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A Mother's Wisdom: Oh to Be So Busy

I still remember my daily phone calls with my mom.

I would talk through my list of things that I was worried about, working on, trying to do, dreaming of, mad about, etc. I imagine her sitting there in her chair listening with great interest and patience and love.

She never tried to solve things for me - it was an unspoken assurance I received from her that I could and would figure it out - whatever it was.

On one occasion, I remember going through this daily ritual with her. My kids were little at the time (2 and 3 years old) and I felt particularly overwhelmed with all of the things that were in motion around me. She allowed me to talk it out like she did on so many other days and then she said something that I have never forgotten.

"Oh, to be so busy," my mom mused.

She could've said that in any number of ways for any number of effects but she was kind of wistful when she said it. She wasn't judging me - she wasn't offering instruction - and she wasn't sad.

What I knew about her life flashed before my eyes offering me a quiet understanding. She was remembering her time as a young mother of four kids. Now as a widowed mother of grown children who lived in other states, her life was now more quiet. She had nursed my father through his cancer battle - seeming to manage it - and everything else - with ease. All of these things filled her life with selfless and quiet purpose.

On this particular day, her words were all the perspective I needed.

Oh, to be so busy.

All at once I realized that, once upon a time, she had been busy like me.

I remember her as a woman who did it all.

She and my dad created a successful business together. She worked full-time managing the books - he managed the sales. She always wanted to go to school and must have had lots of dreams of her own. (I wish I had taken more time to ask her about them.) Her life was built around the rest of us. What a gift.

When I was little, mom always put dinner on the table and washed our laundry. Once in a while, she planted flowers and worked in the yard. She organized our lives in quiet ways and was always there for us.

Our house was never spotless but it was always “in order.” So were her priorities.

She really should have complained, but she never did.

And she always made time to listen.

As I think about it now, I watched her work to rebuild a busy life after we all left and went about our lives – she worked to recreate a life filled with activity, meaning and purpose. With my children now grown, I want to adopt her model of growing gracefully older.

Oh, to be so busy.

Even now my mom’s words remind me that “busy” is a choice. We get to create our lists and we get to choose how we will feel about those lists.

So now, anytime I start to feel overwhelmed, I remember my mother’s wise words. I try to remember the things I learned from her quiet schooling. Among other things, I learned:

Life is short.

Live with joy.

Live for others.

Listen with love.

Be present in the moment.

Appreciate the busy-ness of your life.

If you don't love it - change it.

My mother passed away more than 20 years ago, but her words still echo in my ears.

Oh, to be so busy.

If there are times when your life feels too busy, take heart. A mother's wise words are timeless and they are for all of us.

For today - love the busy-ness of your life. It is rich. (I'll work on the same.)

Love you, Mom.

© Kathy Sturgis, Ph.D. Kathy is founder of Refreshment Zone and is an organizational and personal development specialist with a doctorate in communication. Contact for more information on motivational programs.

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