Monday, April 03, 2006

Me Time

I still haven't posted the pictures of the cleaned up areas. Y'all will just have to take my word for it - they got straightened, cleaned, and organized. And messed back up, but let's not get into that. God is certainly making good use of my kids to teach me lots of interesting character traits. And by interesting, I mean painful and totally against my nature. Being paitient, long-suffering, self-sacrificing... Well, let's just say that it's a testament to the life altering power of Christ that I even know what those words mean.
And I've been thinking a lot about the topic of being self-sacrificing. Staying at home with my babies has made it pretty clear that I have to get over myself. It doesn't matter how tired I am, when my baby girl has a nightmare I get up. It doesn't matter how many times Levi tests my paitience, I stay calm (or do my very best). No matter how sore I may be, if my baby needs to eat...well, y'all get the picture. But all I hear, all I read these days is about how I have to put myself first - take care of myself first so that I can take care of others. I always come back to the example of the oxygen mask in an airplane. No matter what your instincts say, you have to put the mask on yourself first so that you don't pass out and can put it on your child, right? So does that translate into real life? Should I always take care of myself first and make sure that all my own needs are met before I meet the needs of my children? I don't think so. At least not if we're defining needs the way our culture does. We have a long list of *needs* these days. My family's needs, both physical and emotional, do come first. Before mine. I hear a lot of women saying "well, I can't take care of my family if I don't take care of myself first." But frankly you can't take care of your family if you don't get up and take care of your family. They need me now - not when I'm done with my book or off the stairmaster (never really a big problem at my house!) or out of the bubble bath. It's not that there is anything wrong with taking care of one's self. In fact I firmly believe a mother should do whatever she can to keep herself in top working condition and that includes a lot of time for prayer, for study, for fellowship, for bubblebaths(yippee!!) and, yes, for exercise. But that has to be worked in without shortchanging our primary responsibilities. And it can be, I think. There's generally a lot of time for me to pray during the day. Motherhood seems to create opportunities - "please God, give me paitience. please, Lord, help me get this potty seat off my child's head. "please don't let that be a bug she just ate. please, let it be naptime!" But those are sort of snack prayers, grabbed on the run. For a meal sized prayer, I have to carve out time. But somehow it doesn't seem right to lock myself in a prayer closet while my children run wild outside. Caring for them has to come first. It's the same for all my other needs. They are important, some even neccessary, but I have to be creative about finding time for them.
All this is not to say I think my children should be under the impression that I revolve around them. I have no problem saying "Mommy is going to Ladies' meeting, you're staying with Daddy." I know it makes me a better mom when I'm supported and encouraged by other women. And I know they'll have a ball with their dad. But it always takes second place to their needs. If my husband or my kids needed me to stay home, the ladies would have to understand (and they do, that's the great thing about girlfriends).
So why is it so hard? Knowing all of this, why do I still pout when I can't do what I want? Why do I still act like such a martyr for doing what is really just basic mommy stuff? Well, if I had to guess, I'd say it's because I am still very, VERY human - full of selfishness and greed. Yuck. But what wonderful little teachers God has sent me! They too pout when they don't get their way. And, hey, at least I don't lie in the floor and kick my feet and scream "Iwantit!It'smine!Idon'twanttoshare!" Well, not since I've seen how silly it looks anyway:) So God's growing me. He has His work cut out for Him though.


Holly said...

Oh Shannon, that was so good. You are right on target! I still struggle with this, too.

I had to laugh when I received a recent baby gift from two older ladies in the church. It was a bag with items from Bath and Body. The tag said, "Take time for YOU!" Hmmm. Seventh kid. A 19 month old as well..a very, very BUSY 19 month old....Homeschooling, pastor's wife....ME TIME AIN'T GONNA HAPPEN! And that is okay. (At least, I tell myself that! :) It's gotta be okay, cuz I'm the Mom, and my responsibilities come first. Then, if there is time left over, I do what I can to take care of me.

Shannon said...

Holly - There should've been a coupon for free babysitting with the bath stuff:)!