When I lost my job and had a baby pretty much at the same time, I lost my grip on my identity. Getting a new job didn’t really help, although I eventually settled into my new role as mother. Then, partly because I still didn’t have a clue who I was anymore (and partly because of, well, a dozen other important reasons), I quit that not-really-new-anymore job.

And then I really didn’t know who I was. The words “stay-at-home mom” stuck in my throat like carrots. (Because I really don’t like carrots, but I know they’re good for me, so I try to choke them down. It never works. Unless I dip them in ranch. But I think the metaphor falls apart at this point.)

Since my husband works nights, he sleeps during the day. That means I have to keep our small house with thin walls quiet – a task that’s slightly difficult with a three-year-old in residence. So, after a few months (okay, fine – weeks) of half-hearted attempts at a freelance business, I turned to play dates and field trips to fill our days.

I joined MOPS, I read a LOT of books, I organized my pantry, I signed my daughter up for gymnastics and I blogged more than ever. And yet . . . I still felt kind of empty.

My schedule was full. I had plenty to do. But I remained a little lost.

I didn’t realize what was happening at first. No, to be honest, it’s only been recently that I understood. So over the summer, I kicked my fill-the-calendar efforts into overdrive. For a good twelve weeks in a row, we played and crafted and field tripped like crazy. And then we both got tired and cranky, so we filled up a few days with jammies on the couch and cartoons on the TV.

Now that preschool has started, I’m relieved to be carving a new routine for us. I expected that. I crave routine, and I’ve trained my daughter to be the same way. What has surprised me, though, is how that new routine is so much different than the one I had last year.

Around the same time we finished shopping for school supplies, I was hired for several freelance projects, a friend joined Weight Watchers with me, and our new (to us) church kicked off its fall semester small groups. And I added about 43 other things to my must-do-now-or-yesterday list, as well. This still isn’t the surprising part.

The thing I didn’t expect – but am so very grateful to discover – is that my overly packed schedule this year is so much more fulfilling than anything I’ve crammed into my days during the past few years.

I’m really enjoying some of the freelance work I’m doing. I feel like more myself with projects that let me use that old work-outside-the-home-in-a-job-I-like part of my brain, and anything with a hard deadline is a good thing for me. But even more than that, I am loving my new Bible study. It’s been so long since I was in a women’s small group, and this one in particular is awesome. (More on that later, I’m sure.)

I realize that the distinction between what filled up my time but not my heart and what’s going on this year probably seems vague to you. Some of the difference isn’t even the activity I’m doing but the condition of my heart. But I can feel the difference, and I’m so thankful for it. And it’s made me think about all the ways I fill up my life without filling up myself.

[Sadly, TV lands in this category more than I’d like to admit. But that is some deep thinking for another time!]

Do you fill up your time with things that rejuvenate, inspire, educate, challenge or otherwise speak to you heart? Or are you just adding things to your calendar to pass the time?

What should you watch next?


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