Before last month was over, my husband asked me what my New Years resolutions for 2016 were.
(Side note: I have tried the whole New Years resolutions thing in the past, but seeing as how I am both terrible at making plans, let alone sticking to them, I no longer give New Years resolutions a second thought. Sort of like okra. I tried it once -not for me. Never again.)
But this year, and in the past few months, I have had a number of things on my mind that I truly do want to improve upon in my life.
So, I decided to take the opportunity to ride on the coattails of a new year, with its hope and promise of glittery new beginnings.
After some thought, I finally told my husband that my first priority was to take better care of myself in 2016.
My husband is a pragmatist, so he immediately began asking me what specific things I wanted to change, and what ideas I had in mind to achieve my goal.
I, ever the idealist, just shrugged my shoulders, because I sometimes rely a bit too much on my feelings. So naturally, I assumed I would just figure out what I wanted to improve along the way. Also, I was probably thinking about food when he asked me, which is definitely a major distraction.
When I really think about what it means to take better care of myself, part of that means that I must fully come to terms with where I am in my life, and then not let it overwhelm me.
I’m *cough* thirty, a mom to three and a wife. I’m not new to this game, even though I sometimes feel like I am. I have hobbies and talents that I wish I had time for, I’m tired of being the last person to sit down and eat, (it’s always about the food with me) and I really wish that I felt like I had time to run a hairbrush through my hair at least once a day.
So, my vision for a new year began to mold itself from there.
I have recently come to realize, really realize how important it is to create a breathing space between me and whatever is going on in my life at the moment. Sometimes, despite what some might say, when it comes to parenting, barriers can actually be a good thing.
Most importantly, I realized how much I (me, myself and I) actually can control when it comes to creating those barriers.
Time and time again, I find that I’m living my life almost like I am waiting for someone to press pause. This is about as effective as waiting for your children to decide eat their vegetables and put themselves to bed all on their own volition. Read: it ain’t happenin’.
I mean, really? Do you do that, too? Do you just….wait? Like someone is just going to volunteer to give you a break or lend you a hand or vacuum under your couches??
This is something a lot of us moms could use a reality check on, and something we don’t prioritize enough. Because no one is harder on us than we are on ourselves.
Let me tell you what I have observed time and time again during my time as a mother.
Moms who are exhausted.
And I’m not talking about the usual fog that comes with parenting young children, either.
I’m talking about moms who are up to their ears in diapers and board books and glitter and Frozen. I’m talking about moms feeling emotionally spent while they keep the world turning, one pb&j sandwich at a time.
Once she is at this point, a mom usually knows that she needs a break. How could she not??
She knows that she needs something to take the sting off of long, grating days spent at home with her children. Whether it’s an hour in the bathtub, a walk around the block or even just an inch of space between herself and the children that she both loves dearly and also kind of wants to throttle.
So many times, though, I have watched an emotionally spent mother minimize her feelings and her complete exhaustion. I watch her compartmentalize what she is going through, and then brush it off.
I listen to her prioritizing her life and everyone in it over any time for herself.
She decides to wait…
Until all of the projects on her plate are done. Until the home repairs are finally finished. Until her husband isn’t so swamped at work. Until the kids are back in school. Until the stars align. Until the next leap year.
She decides that she will wait everything out before she takes any time for herself to recharge.
I understand this way of thinking because I have been there before.
I have waited until the next paycheck or the start of a new month. I have waited until I felt like I wouldn’t be burdening anyone with my children if I asked them for help.
Sometimes, I even wait until my husband verbally acknowledges that I might benefit from some time away from the kids. I wait until what feels like my last remaining shred of sanity is almost gone.
Then I feel justified for needing time to myself.
Moms are some of the first people to emphasize that parenting is one of the hardest jobs in the world, and also some of the last people who make it a point to take a break to ease the hardships.
Just in case you didn’t already it know, ladies:
You do so. much. for your family.
And attached to those efforts is a lot of emotion (like, all of the emotions.)
In fact, I dare say that we don’t even realize how much our emotional stability is tied to what we do all day until we get a sense of how unappreciated it is, or how impossible it is to get it all done.
Because there is always more…
The dishes and clothes you wash today will be dirtied, and back in the sink or laundry hamper by tomorrow.
No one ever seems to notice when you clean behind the toilet or take a swiffer pad to the dusty staircase.
Your children will spend their last minutes awake each day clawing at whatever bits of sanity you have left, when all you want is for them to go to bed.
Nobody really appreciates that there are clean socks and underwear in their drawers…until there aren’t any.
If we are waiting for parenting to get easier before doing so, then I suspect we will be waiting forever.
When it comes to parenting, we must do more than simply endure.
Parenting is something that we must be wide awake for. And we cannot be unless at least some small part of us is rested.
I have used the analogy before that motherhood is like the Earth, covered almost entirely in water. But there is still a break between and amidst the oceans; there is still land.
Moms, there are still parts of you that aren’t covered in the colossal enigma that is parenting. You are more than the sum of your motherhood, even though it hardly feels that way.
You are worth taking a time out for. You are worth cultivating and pursuing a hobby that meshes with your creativity. You are worth that trip to the gym three times a week, or getting to enjoy your meal while it’s still warm. You are worth putting on eye shadow and mascara just because, or actually getting to brush your hair every morning.
Being a mom never stops, but you are your best self when you are firing on all cylinders, not just muddling through. Not only are you worth it, but you are in control of it more than you think.
So, my goal in 2016 is to find rest, refreshment and to recharge whenever I can. Whatever that looks like. I’m just hoping it involves donuts….
Perhaps this is your goal, too. Sound off below, and tell me about what you can do, or like to do, to recharge your batteries.