So if you haven't read this book as a mom- Loving the Little Years, Motherhood in the Trenches", it has been a source of encouragement, a book that has challenged and motivated me. John gave me a few hours away from our home... away from the kids yesterday morning. So I packed up my bible, a book, and my computer and headed to Starbucks for a hot coffee, a sweet snack and some 'me time'. I truly am blessed that I am married to a man who is willing to take on all three of our crazy children alone (I say that because we mommies have to remember that our husbands are not used to the chaos as much as we are so it can tackle them a bit harder in just a few hours!).
Needless to say, I went to open up Loving the Little Years and it happen to be a chapter on 'Me Time'. As I read it, I felt like it spoke ALOT to my heart.... particularly as I think about all 'me time' that is sacrificed as a mommy of little ones that demand so much all day every day.
I wanted to share this chapter with all you other mommies out there that have little ones. Particularly if you are like me... you miss more alone time, miss having the time to work out more, have struggled with figuring out who 'you' is after having children, etc. I would recommend the entire book (it's very short), but here's the one chapter I read today. I hope it is an encouragement for you and I hope if helps to reshape your thinking about what it means to sacrifice as a mom.
"This is something that I am sure every mother has heard about. You just need a little time to yourself. A long bath, some time to do your nails, getting your hair done, or going shopping for the day. We all need a little time off every once in a while. My husband likes to send me out to go look at yarn or have coffee with some friends. And all these things are great, in so much as they leave you refreshed for the work you do.
Taking a little time for yourself is absolutely needed. I remember the first time that having the twins threatened my morning shower. They just needed me, and needed me, and needed me until it was getting pretty late, and I hadn't gotten out of my pajamas. Then suddenly I had an idea. I would just put them in their crib and take a shower. They could cry for a few minutes- they were fed, and clean, and they would be alright. I was not fed, or clean, and I would not be all right. So I popped them in their crib and said, 'I'll be back in a few minutes - have fun!" and off I went. As I recall I took a speed shower and then read my Bible for a few minutes.
All this to say, I am officially on the record in favor of "me time". It is necessary and fabulous. It isn't good for the kids to have a frazzled and unshowered mother, so by all means get that kind of thing done. Find a way. Turn on a cartoon if you must - it isn't the end of the world.
But there is a sense in which we must really guard ourselves. Motherhood is a demanding job. It is so demanding and intrusive, in fact, that it takes over your body. It uses your body, oftentimes rather roughly. This can start to bother us. You may have some weight to lose, and you might start to resent that. You might have permanently damaged something during a pregnancy. You may have big scars, stretch marks, and loose skin that bothers you. You might not have time to exercise the way you used to. All of these things can be seen as an offense against us - against our bodies.
There are really two separate points I would like to make here. First of all, our bodies are tools, not treasures. You should not spend your days trying to preserve your body in its eighteen-year-old form. Let it be used. By the time you die, you want to have a very dinged and dinted body. Motherhood uses your body in the way that God designed it to be used. Those are the right kind of damaged.
There are of course ways to hurt your body that are outisde of God's design for it and disobedient. But motherhood is what your stomach was made for - and any wear and tear that it shows is simply the sign of a well-used tool. We are not to treat our bodies like museum pieces. They were not given to us to preserve, they were given to us to use. So use it cheerfully, and maintain it cheerfully. When you are working hard to lose the baby weight (as you may need to), think of it as tool maintenance. You want to fix your body up in order to be able to use it somemore. It might be used for more children, or it might be used to take care of the children you have. We should not be trying to fix it up to put it back on the shelf out of harm's way or to try and make ourselves look like nothing ever happened. Your body is a tool. Use it.
ALso, your body is a tool - maintain it. Having sacrificed your body for your children is no exucse for schlepping around in sweatpants for the rest of their childhood. When you were eighteen, you might have been skinny without trying. In your thirties, after having had a pile of kids, the chances are good that you will need to try. And in case you care, this word is not coming from one of those miracle mothers who comes out of the hospital more svelte than she went in! My children, bless them, have left their mark!
Scars and stretch marks and muffin tops are all part of your kingdom work. One of the greatest testimonies Chrsitian women can have in our world today is the testimony of joyfully giving your body to another. While so many women choose to not have children or abort the children that they were given, the testimony of women who know the cost and joyfully pay it is profound. So make sure that you aren't buying into the world's propaganda. WHile there are a great many rewards, the sacrifice is very real. The reason so many women don't want to do it is because it is very hard and has very real costs. But the answer to these obstacles is not to run away in fear as the world does, but to meet it with joy, and in faith.
My very kind and wise husband once left a note for me on Easter mronign, two weeks after Daphne was born. He wrote, "To my wife, before she even goes near the closet on Easter morning," or something romantic like that. In it, he encouraged me to realize that there was no more fitting way to celebrate Easter (or any part of the Christian life) than in a body that has been undone on behalf of another.
So realize that your body is a testimony to the world of God's design. Carry the extra weight joyfully until you can lose it joyfully. Carry the scars joyfully as you carry the fruit of them. Do not resent the damages that your children left on your body. Just like a guitar mellows and sounds better with age and scratches, so your body can more fully praise God having been used for His purpose. So don't resent it, enjoy it.
Second, the world has a very muddles perception of 'self'. They think and tell us to think that we are all little separate entities who might need to go off somewhere to get to know 'ourselves,' or that a mother needs to get back to her corporate job to be herself again. Marriages break up because people don't know who they are anymore. They need to find themselves.
But the Chrsitian view of self is very different, and you need ot make sure that it is the one you have. We are like characters in a story. Our essential self is not back in the intro, waiting to be rediscovered. Who you are in where you are. When you are married, your essential self is married. As the story grows, so does your character. Your children change you into a different person. If you suddenly panic because it all happened so fast and now you don't recognize yourself, what you need is not time alone. What you need is your people. Look out- look at the people who made you what you are - your husband and your children. Study them. They are you. If you want to know yourself, concentrate on them.
Those women who try to find themselves by stripping away the 'others' will find that they are a very broken little thing. This will lead them to resent the people who they think made them that way. She may say, "I used to be so energetic, but all these people take, take, take from me and now I have no time to just be me!" And the world gathers around and comforts her and says she needs sometime to follow her dreams.
But the Chrsitian woman needs to see, "I used to be so boring! Now my character has some depth, some people to love, some hardships to bear. Now I have some material to work with!" A Christian woman's view is always forward and never back. Your identity is to be found and resting in other people.
Let me try this from another angle. As married Christian women, our identity is in our husbands. We are their helpmeets. Our calling is people-oriented. It follows then that you cannot know what your calling is until you know who your calling is. Until you are married, you are not tied to a specific person. Marriage reorients you entirely. Children do even more. Then it is your calling to help your husband by raising these little people. People, people everywhere and no time for yourself. But remember that this is your calling. It belongs to you. They belong to you.
If you want some quality 'me time', make a date with your husband. Do something speical with your children. These people are you. Your identity is supposed to be intertwined - that is the way God wrote the story, and it is the way He intends us to read it."