A couple years ago I decided to stop saying the word “busy.” I don’t always succeed but the word is slowly fading from my vernacular. I realized “busy” was the word I always used as an excuse for my relational failures. “Sorry I didn’t return your call, I’ve been really busy.” “It’s been a long time since I’ve seen you, I’ve just been busy.” “I can’t stay out with you guys, I’m tired because I had such a busy week.” “Sorry your birthday present will be late, I wanted to get it out sooner but I was so busy the last couple weeks.” I was always busy and it seemed to be a good excuse for a while. I thought my relationships were important to me, but I did not live that way. I decided I wanted to be a better friend/daughter/sister and “busy” was going to have to go. The shift has been slow but I am happy with the results. People I care about receive their birthday gifts on time, and I actually give better gifts since I spend a more time thinking about what to give them. I see the people who are important to me more often and overall spend more time investing in the relationships that are important to me. Dropping the word has helped me drop some bad habits along with it and I am continuing to improve. I love not being busy.
Two miles down Horse Creek Road, turn left on a dirt road. It curves and you will see a blue-grey house on your left. Go down the long gravel drive and pull up before a large front porch with a white painted rail. In the corner, is a swing, and I am sitting on it. It is summer and I am looking out across the prairie grass. It is green turning tan and wispy like the thinning hairs atop an aging man’s head. The soil is poor and the grass never grows thick or high here, but it is tenacious and runs free over the rolling landscape. I am watching my one year old son climb up and down the one-step porch. Up is easy but turning around to go down backward has him occupied. A clump of yellow snapdragons grows by the step and we pause to listen to the bumblebees. He holds still, and we watch and listen. We spend a peaceful morning just listening to the wind through the grass, bees and my son’s delighted explorations.
That was one year and a vacation ago and I will confess that daily life does not unfold like that beautiful summer day. I recently took a pause in my schedule and realized it is time for me to change. I want to embrace a porch swing mentality. The porch swing way of beginning my days, of drinking in the pleasure of my children and the beauty all around me. The porch swing way of allowing peace to fill my heart and set my pace for the day. The porch swing way of being purposeful, which includes intentionally resting and enjoying what is around me. I am choosing a new way of living and I am inviting other moms and parents to join me. A life of parenting and living with intentional simplicity. In a driven, fast-paced society where it is commonplace and even applauded to be busy, involved and over-committed, I am stepping back. I am going backward, away from busyness, away from commitments, away from fear that we will miss out if we dare slow down. I am going to breath deeply and from here, proceed with calculated steps. I am going to build a life of peace and purpose one step at a time. It’s porch-swing parenting, a new way to live in a modern society.