|What things usually look like from where I'm sitting.|
The answer is: The less I worry about taking care of myself, the happier I am. It's true for me anyway.
Let me explain.
Some people are flowers and some people are gardeners. I have come to understand (mostly through reading good books) that I am a flower. I tend to overestimate my own needs and make excuses for myself.
Given the opportunity, I would abdicate almost all of my responsibilities as a mother to work on projects or watch tv. But when I indulge my flower side I end up feeling hollow rather than fulfilled.
I guess that's why God thinks I need all these kids. To make sure I'm too busy to coddle myself too much.
I'm sure this doesn't apply to plenty of moms, whose tendency is to think of themselves too little rather than too much. But that is not my struggle.
So, with the conscious goal of giving of myself more to my family than would necessarily come naturally to me, here's what I'm still letting myself get away with . . .
- Exercise: I go for a short run almost every morning and I don't bring a baby jogger with me, because I hate them. (My purgatory has me shackled to a double baby jogger.) The husband usually gets the baby up and ready for Mass to allow me to get a run (and rosary) in before the rest of the kids are up.
- Prayer: Daily Mass (even with its occasional frustrations) and prayer before the rest of the kids are up make a big difference in my reservoir of pleasantness for the day.
- Naps: I only nap when I'm pregnant or nursing. So, always. I put the two littlest ones down in the early afternoon and then I take a nap too. If I'm not tired I use that 30-40 minutes to read, but I'm almost always tired. The older kids can entertain themselves now, but when they couldn't, but had outgrown naps, I would let them watch a show during that time.
- Projects: Sometimes I find it difficult to muster a lot of pride in the fact that I kept all of my children alive another whole day. When that happens, I know it's time for a project. No one ever comes over and says, "Wow, it looks like you managed to feed all your children again today!" But they will say, "Hey, cute throw pillows. Did you make them?" And it feels nice to hear that.
That's how I handle it. Certainly we need to attend to our own needs as we attend to the needs of our families. But that idea perpetuated by women's magazines that I needed to focus more on myself was a big loser for me. The less I do of that, the better for all of us.