So, my friend Stephanie just started a blog (Follow her at stephaniecov.wordpress.com!) and she wrote about the challenges of getting back in shape after having her second (adorable) baby. And it’s really about so much more than that, cause what I just wrote sounds lame, but the post is great and you can read it here.
Anyway, now I keep thinking about bodies and appearances and motherhood and how that’s all tied together. But, I’m mostly thinking about time. How there’s not enough. How I’m supposed to take some for myself and how that never seems to happen.
Lately, my version of taking time for myself essentially consists of me being all frazzled and crazy, sneaking away from my highly suspicious family (“Where you goin’ Mama?”), locking myself in the bathroom and frantically consuming something sweet because I just don’t want to share every single bite that goes into my body, dammit. And then I feel bad about the fact that I just snuck a candy bar like a criminal and, in all likelihood, I then consume another candy bar because I’m a guilt eater. I do usually share the second one with the kids, you know, to be fair or whatever.
Clearly this version of taking time for myself is not a healthy one. Clearly.
And this bothers me. It also bothers me that I rarely wear makeup when I’m not going to work or church. Not that I absolutely have to wear it…because, let’s face it, I’m pretty hot. But seriously, it would be nice. I mean, I like to look like a human sometimes and not just an extra on those cracked out meth scenes in Breaking Bad.
And my family needs it, too. My husband deserves to come home to a wife who makes some effort, not that he would ever complain, because he’s such a good person.
Then there’s the girls and soon to be boy-child. They deserve to see their mama take some time to make herself look presentable and to be presented with an image of womanhood that isn’t self-depreciating, but self-celebrating. Now, I don’t go running around the house talking about how nasty I look, but I can’t say as I’ve ever talked to the girls about how great my body is, either.
And I know these things take time. I just go through these cycles of frustration where I’ll resolve to do better and to be better and it’ll be okay for a little bit, but eventually I’m back to my old tricks. Example: I love writing. It is SO good for me. I know this. Time and time again I resolve to blog at least once a week. And a lot of times I do a good job with this goal. Which is why some of you get a ridiculous influx of email for a few days and then nothing for like three months. And that’s sad, because this is something that really makes me happy. So, why am I not making time to do it?
“But, when?” I keep asking myself. When is there time? When is there space? Where is the peace and quiet in the day to even contemplate doing this?? Especially those days when the baby’s poop falls out of her diaper and she steps in it as she’s getting on her toy horse? You know, the days when you clean up the poopy baby and she pees on you as you’re putting her in the bath to clean the poop from her widdle toes? Where’s the time in those days, I’d like to know?
According to social media every other mom on the planet has her shiz together and has plenty of time to cut box tops and creatively swath her child’s room in handmade decor while designer cupcakes cool in her spotless kitchen. I, however, cry foul. That jazz is not real and if it is, it sure isn’t as widespread as social media wants us to think. I have proof in the form of very comforting texts I get from one of my friends. Here’s my most recent favorite: “Days are long and years are short. Blah freakin’ blah. I’ll tell you what’s short. Patience. She’s a short b-.” God bless her, she always knows what to say to make me feel better.
Now, because my three year old daughter is smarter than I am, she just waltzed in and figured it all out for me.
I’ve been doing this thing with Mags about 30 minutes before her nap time that we’re calling “Quiet Time” because we’re original around here and we come up with sweet titles for things that we do. Suffice it to say, this is a time when Mags gets to sit on a special blanket in a special part of the living room and gets to complete tasks that I give her. She’s usually required to read a few books, do a few puzzles, and if I’m feeling particularly pinterest-y, I’ll have some clever fine-motor skill challenge for her. But usually puzzles.
I laarve Quiet Time because, she actually likes it and I actually have time to load the dishwasher in peace.
Today, I plopped myself down on Mags’ Quiet Time spot and just began writing because I had to. And my sweet, sweet girl wandered in and said, “You havin’ some quiet time, Mama? Good. You sit there and when you finish on your computer you can take a little rest.” From the mouths of babes, my friends, from the mouths of babes. Because it’s obvious, right? I need Quiet Time just as much as Maggie does. And, shoot, if she’s doing it, I might as well be sitting there right along side her. I could learn a lot from this kid.
Motherhood is hard. Emotions are hard. None of this is easy and I need constant reminders that I’m worth it and that, like Stephanie reminded me, I am fearfully and wonderfully made. I’ve been given talents and gifts that need cultivating. I struggle with guilt, with the feeling that I need to be doing other more important things with my time than make up or blogging or reading. And though I feel selfish for taking time sometimes, I know that the negativity is all a lie. I am not required to live up to the false image of womanhood depicted on social media. I’m worth the five minutes it takes to put on some eye shadow and mascara. I’ve been given gifts that need cultivating and so have you. You are just as deserving as I for a moment’s peace, for some rejuvenation, for Quiet Time.
So, how do you do it, good friends of mine? Where do you take the time? And if you find the time, what is it that you’re doing?
I know this isn’t something that will be solved overnight and that I’ll probably fail about a million times before I figure it all out…if I ever do. But, I do know this: we need each other. We need the sisterhood of girls who are in the trenches everyday. We need the sisterhood of girls who did all of this thirty years ago and are still mothering everyone around them. We need the encouragement, the text messages, the blogs. We need daily reminders that we will all get through this. Because, we will. We really, really will.
6 thoughts on “Taking Time”
Amen, sister! Good girl, Mags for telling your mama that it’s ok to just sit! 🙂 Thanks for the shout out to my blog – glad you liked it!
I am SOOOO with you on this. I struggle so much with the guilt of stopping because there is always so much to do.
Here’s to letting ourselves stop. Write. Drink a cup of coffee. Read. Sleep.
You are SO not alone in everything you have (beautifully) written here. As you said: do not allow the expectations of others to define your sense of worthiness, happiness, loveliness, or usefulness. There is a cult of competitive motherhood out there that can be brutal, and it benefits no one. But at times it’s really hard to disentangle oneself from its influence; it’s in the ads we watch, it’s the subject of blogs and novels and movies, and it pervades many casual conversations with friends and acquaintances.
And let me say right now that from the bits and pieces I know about you both in & outside of work (FB posts, Instagram pics, i.e., the “backyard fence” of the 2010’s), you are a phenomenal mom, a top-notch librarian, and a talented writer.
Children simply need to know that you are there for them, that you unconditionally love them, and that their needs will be met…then they can bloom and grow and develop confidently and happily. Children don’t count the number of minutes of “quality time” we spend with them. To them, quality time is any time you’re around, even if you’re reading and they’re sitting three feet away digging a hole and finding worms. They don’t care if the cookies are store-bought or homemade. They’re just super-excited to be having a cookie. We tend to forget these basic things and see everything through a filter of expectations imposed by outside forces. Trust me: Your family thinks you are the most beautiful woman in the world no matter what you see reflected back at you in the mirror. You are your husband’s true love and best friend, and you are your children’s mommy.
You don’t owe anyone a particular appearance or behavior; don’t beat yourself up for not meeting expectations that aren’t your own as well. If *you* love putting on make-up and it makes you feel happy, then it is totally worthwhile. If writing makes you feel fulfilled and therefore happy, then give it the same priority as you would give reading with your child or sharing a glass of wine and an intimate moment with your husband.
Keeping yourself healthy and happy, on your terms, is the greatest gift you can give your family.
What an incredibly wise and kind woman you are, Aurora. Seriously, thank you so much for your encouragement. It really means a lot to me. 🙂
I am still struggling with how to do the quite time thing right now, but I will tell you that I ask God to please let the babies fall asleep before nine every night! ha ha I suppose that I get enough time when I am at work doing my “other job”, and can run errands or do
something that I like to do at lunchtime every now and then.
Haha, I think the bedtime prayer is one of my favorites. 🙂