Last Thursday afternoon was one of my babysitter afternoons, during which my three darling children go to a babysitter’s house for a few hours and I do … whatever I want.
It took me a while to figure out what I even wanted to do. I had that odd sluggish feeling hovering about.
You know how when you have postpartum depression it feels like an enormous gray cat is sitting on your brain? And you feel overwhelmed with life, and can’t even think of what the next thing to do would be, but you know you don’t have the energy to do it? And the least little thing makes you burst into tears?
That’s how I feel by the end of the homeschool week. It’s a passing cloud, not a lingering blackness, but I usually do seem to be in a bit of a fog by the end of the week.
I am so worn out from the constant demands for my time and attention (and food, always food), from breaking up fights, and for having to make sure everyone gets their
school done that I really look forward to some alone time. (I am an introvert,
so I get recharged by time alone; you might enjoy time with a friend more.)
I tried to go home and be productive this past Thursday afternoon, sorting through the kids’ outgrown clothes, boxing up summer clothes, vacuuming up the ten pounds of debris on my living room carpet. But when the vacuum cleaner started making strange sounds and not working properly, and this caused me to almost burst into tears, I knew it was time for an intervention.
I made myself go to the YMCA.
And, oh, it was glorious. I didn’t have to settle any fights in the car on the way over. I didn’t have even one single child to shepherd into the children’s area. I got to run on the treadmill. The treadmills have TVs with cable, so I got to watch House Hunters International about a sweet American couple trying to find a house on a fjord in Denmark.
It made me exceedingly happy.
Sometimes it seems like a luxury, doesn’t it? To take time for ourselves?
But the alternative, with me at least, is to keep going, chugging along getting grumpier and grumpier at “all the work I have to do,” even though I know it wouldn’t be spiritual to admit it, and then I get crankier and crankier at all the people around me.
“You want a piece of cheese? Didn’t I just feed you, like, four hours ago?” Sigh.
My kids spill milk. I grit my teeth and try not to be mad.
They fight. I gripe at them to be nice.
I’m not saying there’s ever an excuse for me acting that way. I should pray, and I do. I should read my Bible in the mornings, and I do (some days).
But sometimes, it really helps to go for a run.
Those endorphins helped lift my cloud. I could see sunshine again.
I was able to think and analyze some of the changes I needed to make in our lives. I suddenly had all kinds of plans for the next few weeks, most of which taking time to slow down, stay home (and off the computer), and make things in the Crock Pot.
(I was also inspired by the couple on my treadmill TV who were moving from California to experience the slower pace of life in Denmark with their two young girls. I want that for my kids. I was yearning to nestle us all down by a Danish Fjord (with no TVs and maybe limited electricity), but since my husband and children are rather attached to Oklahoma, we’ll have to be content here.)
I’m not saying any of us “deserve” time to ourselves, or that it’s a requirement to be happy. Amy Carmichael chose to be joyful during persistent health problems. Corrie Ten Boom chose to be thankful in a Nazi prison camp. Many women have much harder situations in life than I do.
I do think it makes sense, though, when it is feasible in my own situation, to do those things that make me a stronger, better wife and mother.
When I picked up my kids that evening, after a nice run and a healthy dinner, I felt refueled. I was happy to see them. I was glad to get to go home and be their Mommy again. I was glad to see my husband when he came home, and I had energy to talk with him.
Life can be stressful and exhausting. But when we choose to make time to do something that makes us happy, to renew and refresh, I think we are stronger and more
joyful women for our families.
What makes you happy? How do you make time to do it? Do you feel guilty for doing it?