We were having our family scripture study this morning, and today’s chapter was Mathew 25 (in the New Testament), which happens to be one of my favorites. As a writer, speaker, and teacher, I am a believer in the power of stories, parables, and analogies to bring a point to life, and this chapter has not one but three! BAM!
The first parable is often referred to as “the parable of the ten virgins,” but for my purposes, I’m going to call it “the parable of the last minute mom,” or in other words, the story of how procrastination is lethal and how it nearly killed me.
To give you a bit of a background, I’m going to summarize the parable for you: ten virgins went to meet a bridegroom. Five were wise and five were foolish. The foolish ones ran out of oil and the wise ones wouldn’t share theirs. “Get your own,” they said. When he arrived, he let the five wise virgins in and didn’t want anything to do with the five foolish ones.
Poor foolish virgins, right? Those mean wise virgins wouldn’t share. And that implacable bridegroom wouldn’t extend mercy to them! Or you may say, “nah-uh! they need to stop being so foolish and get their act together!”
There are many ways we could choose to interpret this parable, and, of course, I’m interested to hear your point of view, but I was driving back from dropping Taylor Bare at work a little while ago and just thinking, “Man! This is so true of motherhood, too!
Like that time when my daughters were really little and I was a single mom with a full time job and I procrastinated eating, sleeping, and even showering. I got really anemic, developed cancerous cysts, and my sense of self-worth was minuscule, at best, because of the lack of attention I gave to my needs. “I’ll do it later,” I lied.
And when I did eat, or I did sleep, or I did take care of myself, or did work on my dream, I did it at the last minute, when it had become almost a matter of life and death, and it had to be rushed, that there was really no real enjoyment in it… it was more like a dreaded chore. I became a last minute mom. I was last on my list.
And being a last minute mom works. I mean, there are many things that get done and we get to cross them off our long to-do lists (before I gave up to-do lists altogether). And we feel like we are conquering the world with all the busyness and all the doing.
But the wise virgins reminded me of something today, and that is: there are some things only you can take care of… and
sometimes most of the time, those are the very things we neglect. We get sidetracked with making everything look perfect and painting the image that we have it all together that we forget that our lamps need oil.
Sidebar – I want to acknowledge that the parable says the virgins were actually slumbering and sleeping. That doesn’t really fit you and I because, well, we’re moms. I believe our “slumbering” has more to do in measuring our worth by what we accomplish, rather than understanding that it is who we are that matters.
I almost missed my exit because I was so thrilled to be reminded of this and quickly decided to have this conversation with you, today, as soon as I walked in the door, rather than later.
What makes one wise and what makes one foolish? In the dictionary, we learn that wise means “having or showing experience, knowledge, and good judgment.” It also means “aware,” and the German etymology comes from weid- “to see,” hence “to know.”
I realize it wasn’t what I knew that was killing me, it was what I wasn’t aware of. And that’s why I want to tell you today that it is perfectly fine to cook a last minute meal, to do a last minute load of laundry, to do the dishes last minute, to come up with a last minute outfit for yourself or for your kids, and even to pick up a last minute birthday present or to bake a last minute birthday cake.
Today, I am writing to you last minute, and I foresee writing some last minute replies to the many e-mail messages that piled up this weekend while I was preparing for and teaching my Blogging 101 workshop in Southlake (DFW).
But all these things will surely get done because there is external motivation, accountability, deadlines, and systems in place that will assure they get done. A great tool to get something done is potential embarrassment. Just think about how quickly you can clean and organize the house last minute when someone is coming over in short notice. Or how you can complete a project in record time – last minute – when you know it is due the next day. Or how you can become the most resourceful and craftiest mom alive last minute to come up with the costume or prop your kid needs for a class project. Or how all of a sudden you have time to get your nails done last minute because you are going to a conference. Or how you suddenly manage to shave your legs last minute because you must wear a skirt to church or an event. Maybe it’s just me…
All of those activities that we are sure to do are great and for a noble purpose, but they are oil-burning rather than oil-filling. I found out the hard way when I was sick back then because no one could give me my health back… I had to get my own. It was not mean, and it was certainly not merciless. The truth is I can delegate chores and projects, but I cannot delegate self-awareness, self-acceptance, or self-attention.
And that’s where you come in. While I’m certainly happy I learned this self-love lesson and it has absolutely enriched my motherhood and my life, I don’t wish the process on anyone. I want to make sure I did my part in sharing this with you, because whether you’ve known this since forever, or it just dawned on you, we all need a reminder to get our needs met from time to time.
They say that procrastination is the thief of time, and yeah, that’s true in the literal sense. What we often forget is that time is life. Procrastination is the thief of life, really.
“Don’t live a last minute life,” said my my tween daughter when she was sharing what she learned at Scripture study today. She has a way of saying the most powerful one-liners in the universe. Or so I think.
Procrastination can steal your life and all of your life-giving experiences… you know, the ones that you most care about.
I am a last minute mom, a mess, a procrastinator… and you may be too. But we can be aware of what we choose to procrastinate, what we leave for the last minute.
Procrastination is not the enemy. We can use it as a powerful tool to become the best mom we can be. Imagine if instead of procrastinating an important conversation with someone you love, you procrastinated impressing your neighbors with your impeccable home-making skills. Imagine what a difference it would make if instead of procrastinating following your dream, you procrastinated feeling sorry for yourself because you don’r have a Pinterest worthy life. This shift has given me such peace and that is what I want for you! No more mommy guilt!
How do you make sure you get your needs met, even if last minute? I’d love to hear your thoughts on procrastination and how you deal with it.