For years I fought this whole notion of needing time to myself...Look, for years, I fought this whole notion of needing time to myself. I really did. It sounded selfish. My babies needed me. And they did. Really, I still don't understand women with small children heading to Hati for mission work. I hope I am not offending anyone right off the bat. Our mission, when we are gifted by God with kids, is our family. But, there needs to be some balance. There needs to be time for showers and prayer and exercise (not necessarily in that order). Being a mom and a wife requires grace in huge amounts. God has it and can share it with us, but we have to receive it, and we cannot receive it if we are not taking the time to do so. It doesn't have to be huge amounts of time, I don't think.
We need to build those connectionsAll I know is, I think if I had actually stepped away now and then a little more, I would have been more focused and had more to give to my kids. As it is, I was and am tired and grouchy and easily annoyed. The past 5 years has brought us closer to having community than we have ever had, but we need to work to nurture that. Our circle, while I *believe* we could rely upon them, is unreliable, and that includes family. If something really extreme occurred, I believe they would come through, but in the general ups and downs, there are people who do not and I am not sure will show up unless it is convenient. That's probably true of us for them, too, but we need to build those connections.
Prayer and exercise are basic, like clipping toenails and brushing your teeth
And, when I say, "stepped away now and then a little more," I don't mean weekend jaunts with my husband (although that sounds nice now that my kids are older). I didn't really leave my kids overnight until my youngest was 4, and I am OK with that. But, I needed to step away for taking care of myself. Not spa days and pedicures (again, that sounds nice), but basic exercise and self-care. Do not delude yourself into thinking that prayer and exercise are not as basic as clipping your toenails and brushing your teeth. Really.
I am talking from experience here. I stopped exercising when I got pregnant with my oldest. I figure I was at the very end of doctors who did not think it was OK to exercise during pregnancy. That started a long downward spiral. I tried to join the Y when my third was about a year old, but ten minutes into the workout, I got called down to the KidZone because someone tried to change my daughter's diaper and she freaked out. My three year old was in tears because no one let him play on the video game. It just did not go well. I did not really start exercising with any regularity again until my youngest was 4, and it was still a battle because she hated the KidZone too.
I had several rounds of Zoloft, particularly postpartum, and it really only served to make me feel numb. I kind of need guilt in my life to make me recognize where I am going wrong, and I kind of lacked it while on Zoloft. At least half of the women I know with small children are on anti-depressants. Honestly, when I started working out, it changed my life because moving my body even for a short bit--10 minutes at first--to the point of needing to think about breathing created mental results that were far better than any anti-depressant. If someone had taken me by the shoulders and told me, "Look, Maggie, you just HAVE to do this. Find a way. You don't have to do P90X. Just short, intense work. That will make a huge difference." I am not poo-pooing antidepressants. They have a time and place, but, seriously, we need to take care of ourselves, and we can't think of exercise as something we do when we have time and energy. It just has to happen. Everybody knows that if you don't exercise a dog, bad things happen. They get ornery and problematic and destructive. Why do we think we can go without?
Really, honestly, when I started praying and exercising regularly, things started to work a little better, in general. I am not saying everything was suddenly perfect, but problems are less overwhelming. I can also see when I have slacked on one or both over the past few years, things suffer. Mostly I suffer and my family suffers. :0P Taking care of myself enables me to respond gracefully to situations that I might otherwise not be able to muster up the confidence to face nor the strength to respond to with grace.