It’s a little baffling to me that I’m writing this right now from my front porch at 4:30 in the afternoon and hear nothing but the chickens clucking and my own clickity-clicking on the keyboard. Me-time. There was a point in my life as a young mother (my oldest is almost 10, so I think that graduates me out of the ‘young mother’ category, right?) that I was pretty sure this would never come. That was the point in my life when every minute of the day one of the three boys, my husband, or my dog would need something from me. I wasn’t bitter or anything, but tired and stretched pretty thin.
I had no place to desire Me-time, I figured. I chose this lifestyle, after-all. I chose to stay home, I chose to homeschool, and chose to have 3 children. I had no place to long for quiet ‘me’ time, let alone complain about not having it. I of course did both of those things, but felt very guilty about it. And this coming from a mama who’s kiddos did nap well, who has a very supportive, involved husband and extended family who asked for their time with just the boys. And I still felt the longing for more and the guilt over it grew.
I was pretty sure something was wrong with me for wanting time away from my children, until I realized that it was not them I wanted time away from. It was that I just wanted time away from me as a mom.
And now with ‘Me-time’ happening almost daily now … mind you, I’m a homeschooling mama, so I feel this development is shocking … I don’t long for it anymore since it just happens. Sometimes, they wander outside and play while I do stuff inside. Or I’ll come out to blog or work, like I am now, and they’ll be content playing together inside. Matt will come home from work and take them for a hike or bike ride or go out and shoot bows. I also get up earlier than them and start they day at my pace rather than theirs (which tends to be a lot faster and louder than mine). And sometimes, I’ll just tell them that I need some quiet time to myself after school and they happily run off in the opposite direction. Or on a bigger scale, their Mimi will ask to have them over for a slumber party, their Grammie will have them for a week in the summer or their Papa will take them to a knife show for the weekend. All of this I could label as ‘Me-time’ but now, I see it as ‘Their-Time’.
Their time to be loved on by others without me being actively present. To feel how blessed they are to have these other people in their lives. To spend time just with their brothers. Or just their dad or grandparents. I used to feel guilty for feeling like I needed this time, when really, these boys needed it just as much as I do. Because honestly? I am not the best person for them all the time, every second of every day. I’m just not. There are times when they will be blessed more by our family and close friends than they would be by me, at that time. There are times when I am, for whatever reason, not filling up their cups with immense blessings. And my moody emotional self may be bringing them down a bit. Well, thank God for putting others in their lives who are ready and willing to boost them back up. And in the process, me too.
My best friend and I began trading kiddos once a week. Every-other Wednesday I have her kids and on the opposite days she has mine. For just a few hours but MAN, did I ever think this opportunity for ‘Me-time’ was fantastic. But I’m sure you can imagine that for my boys, getting to count on spending play time with their best friends once a week is even MORE fantastic than the alone time is for me. I didn’t anticipate it, but I see it now, and that has changed how I look at my time away from them. I no longer see it as primarily for me. It really is for them. And as moms, isn’t the feeling of doing something for ourselves the cause of a lot of guilt? Seeing how ‘their-time’ is truly a gift for them (and usually for the people they are spending this time with, too) that guilt is replaced with joy.
I used to think that every chance we could get, Matt, the boys and I should be together as a family. Every chance. I saw that as the best way to bless our boys. But as I sit here finishing this post (a day after I started it), while the boys are off on a hike with just their dad, the reality is some of my best mothering comes from lovingly, joyfully, and graciously stepping back and out of their activity.
A few things though … my boys are almost 10, almost 8, and 5. This mentality was a lot less easy to run with when they were 5, 3, and 1. Also, I feel my attitude and intentions about this ‘time’ are so important. I don’t feel entitled to this ‘Me-time’. Even if the boys are outside playing and I’m concentrating on critiques, they can interrupt me anytime they need to. As they’ve grown they recognize my need for concentration, so most of the time, they are thoughtful about what needs my immediate attention. But if they came to me for something and I growled at them, we no longer have a blessed situation. And if I feel entitled to it, it just feels sad and all about me. I can’t feel good about that. I will absolutely tell them on occasion that I need some quiet time … (this quiet time doesn’t even need to be 30 minutes … 10 minutes’ll do the trick for me) … and then when we all come back together I know they see that I’m recharged and refreshed.
When they are grown, I don’t believe they will necessarily remember exactly how much time we spent together and apart. I just think they will remember the joys of those times, regardless of whom they spent it with. I do hope they’ll find joy in remembering that they had people besides their mom who loved them and wanted to contribute to filling up their cup of blessings. And that their mama was in a happy, refreshed, energized yet relaxed mood a lot of the time … sometimes as a result of the time we spent apart.
Thanks for visiting and reading my thoughts, friends. I always appreciate that you take the time to be here for a moment of your day! ♥
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