I was having one of those mornings.

You know, the kind when you can’t seem to get going and out the door.

I was trying to get myself ready, take care of my sick daughter and get her to the doctor, and check off a few things from my to-do list. The only problem is my to-do list is usually just a never-ending list of things floating around in my brain occupying 75 percent of my thinking.

As I rushed around trying to get out the door, I couldn’t help noticing pile after pile. Things that needed to be taken care of.

The muffin crumbs from the morning’s rushed breakfast under the table.

The shoes left on the floor that weren’t put in the closet.

The dishes still left in the sink from the night before.

The messy bathroom counter.

The toys scattered across the living room.

The picture frames on the table that needed to be hung up.

The laundry overflowing from the basket.

The kitchen counter that housed a hundred little things begging for my attention. School notices, Scholastic book orders due, bills that needed to be written out, Christmas lists, etc.

As my mind took notice of every little thing, all of this clutter became chaos in my mind.

And then the words just started coming out of my mouth.

“Look at all this.”

“Why doesn’t anyone put their shoes away?”

“Why is there always some new mess being made?”

“I don’t understand . . . I can’t . . . ”

As I cornered my daughter’s room to get her socks, I sighed, “I give up.”

And as soon as I said it, I thought YES. I do need to give up.

I need to give up.

Not on my home. Not on my children or my husband.

I need to give up on my expectations.

I need to give up on expecting that list in my head to ever get shorter. Because the truth is, at this stage of my life, there is always going to be a new mess. There is always going to be a list of things that beg for my attention. Because kids and school and life and dreams don’t quit.

I need to give up expecting everything to be flawless.

I need to embrace the clutter and all the chaos it brings rather than let it choke the life out of me trying to keep up with it all.

That running list in my head has left me feeling defeated and weighed down at times. Because of that, I usually end up not tackling any of it.

Do you find yourself with a running list in your head of things that you need to do or want to do, but you never actually find the time to do them? Let’s be honest. As moms, just keeping up with the day-to-day stuff is a challenge. Between having to take care of kids and feed everybody, there’s usually little time left for much else.

But what if we just gave up on trying to do it all and just did one thing? One thing that we really wanted to conquer. One thing that really brought us joy. One thing instead of all the things. Maybe then we would actually start seizing the day instead of letting it hold us captive.

For weeks I had wanted to clean the upstairs. Go through the kids’ rooms and declutter, choose toys to give away to our church toy drive. But because that to-do list seemed so overwhelming and never-ending, I always focused on the daily things like dishes and laundry. The things that make me feel like I’m still afloat in a sea of endless chores. Those “other things” kept getting pushed back but they never lost their place in my mind.

But the moment, I decided to “give up” I felt a huge relief. I wasn’t going to worry about tidying up the house today . . . again. I wasn’t going to sweep the crumbs up just yet. I wasn’t going to try to do it all today. I was going to tackle just one thing on my to-do list. One thing. The upstairs.

And so, even though if may have looked like chaos in the house, my mind was at ease because I was able to just focus on that one thing. One thing that I had wanted to do but never found the time to actually do.

Tomorrow, that one thing is Hallmark Christmas movies. Why? Because so often, I run around the house trying to keep up with everything and I find myself fantasizing about just sitting down and enjoying a movie. But I never do, because I’m always trying to keep up with my list.

The next day, maybe it will be the craft drawers. You know, the ones that look like Michael’s exploded inside. Or snuggles on the couch all day in our pajamas. Because giving up frees you up. It frees you of trying to do it all and carry it all. It allows you to give yourself grace. And, oddly enough, it brings the things you really want to do right into focus.

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Sherry White

Sherry White writes about the messiness of life, parenting, and faith at her blog The Messy Christian. She tries to add her own brand of humor and insight into everyday issues we all face, reminding us that even though we find ourselves in countless messes, God’s grace lights the way. She would be thrilled if you follower her on Facebook and Instagram.

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