I once heard a talk show host give a very compelling argument for why moms need time away. He said mothers give and give to the point of empty. They must refuel themselves so they can continue to give.
It sounded quite reasonable to me. Then why did my search for this hallowed “me time” always leave me feeling as though I needed more? While taking time for myself, I definitely felt refreshed, but the moment I got home and realized the sink was still full of dirty dishes and I would still have to give baths to all the children before the night would be over, I wanted to head right back out the door.
This left me feeling sorry for myself. Why couldn’t I have one night where I wouldn’t have to do the same things I do every night? Why couldn’t I come home to a spotless and trouble-free place where dishes were washed and children were in bed? Why did I have to go back to my duties so soon? To punish those who were making my life difficult, I would loudly sling dishes and be curt and hurried with everyone until I could get children into bed and escape to the sewing room or the computer for the remainder of the evening.
The next morning, feeling dissatisfied with the amount of me time from the evening prior, I would take my coffee, sit at the computer, and completely ignore my daily duties. I would get irritated with the children because their antics were cutting into my time. I was stressed and edgy and desperate for more. My children would call out for me and I would answer, “She’s not here right now.”
Then, I began staying up much too late in order to squeeze in more alone time. I dreaded going to bed because it meant waking up to children’s needs and a disaster of a house.
I became increasingly upset by my husband’s time off from work, along with the business lunches and the business trips. To compensate for the perceived unfairness of the situation, I chose to do nothing on weekends: no laundry, no dishes, no parenting. Soon, my weekends were spilling over both ends and into the weekdays. All of this only served to overwhelm me even more and feed into my desire to escape.
In a moment of clarity, as only the Lord can offer, I saw my behavior for what it truly was: selfishness. Along with this epiphany came the conviction to quit seeking Me Time.
Me Time is a myth. It is an unattainable, always interruptible, never satisfying piece of junk psychology. Me Time, by its very name, suggests that who we are during the daily grind is not who we truly are. It begs us to search for fulfillment outside of the titles of “wife” and “mother.” It accuses precious little ones and God-given spouses for suppressing us. It reduces motherhood to a disease in which little dirty faces and endless monotonous tasks slowly suck the life out of us. It says we can never be refreshed by spending time in the presence of those we care for day in and day out. It points out a perceived hole in our world that needs to be filled, a tank that must be refueled, a monster that will swallow us if we neglect to feed it Me Time.
The more we indulge the thought that we are somehow owed this time away, the more we will seek after it. The more we seek after it, the more every little opportunity afforded us to take a break will seemingly end too quickly. The everyday life of being a mother will become drudgery. We will dread every aspect of this role. We will snap at our children any time they try to draw us out of our precious time alone. Not getting this time will ruin our day, and if we do manage some time away, we will despise the re-entry.
However, with any lie, there is a certain amount of truth hidden within. There is an emptiness within us that needs to be filled, but only God can fill what you are aching for.
“The Lord is my portion, saith my soul; therefore will I hope in him. The Lord is good unto them that wait for him, to the soul that seeketh him.” Lamentations 3:24–25
Our time away should be spent seeking Him. Anything else we try to fill that emptiness with will fall miserably short. Likewise, the company we seek during our time away should be spent with people who are about the business of edifying and strengthening us in our role as wife and mother, not tearing at the very foundation of our home. We will never gain anything but resentment from the counsel of those who encourage us to seek self.
We must cease to see the role of wife and mother as a job we put aside at the end of the day. We must do our daily tasks cheerfully, as unto the Lord. We must learn to enjoy being home with our families. We must find contentment in serving others. We should spend more time drinking in the beauty of our children, searching their eyes, holding their hands, being Mom. When we do feel neglected or overworked, we must immediately seek the Lord to refresh us and keep us from sin.
There will be days when we are afforded opportunities to do things alone or with other women, but if we are content in our God-given role, we will no longer cling so tightly to these moments as the only way to save our sanity. Our need for Me Time will fade as we begin to see motherhood as a blessing not to be escaped, but embraced.
Published on January 26, 2009
Amy Roberts and her husband, Ty, are the homeschooling parents of five children, with another blessing due this Christmas. In February, their fifth child died at the age of seven months, truly bringing home the realization that time with our children is much too short to spend seeking self. You can visit Amy’s homeschooling blog at www.homeschoolblogger.com/raisingarrows.
Copyright 2008 The Old Schoolhouse Magazine, LLC
This article originally appeared in the Fall 2008 issue of The Old Schoolhouse Magazine, LLC
Reprinted with permission from the publisher