I wanted children long before my first child was born. I longed to be a mom, to experience motherhood. I dreamed about holding my baby in my arms.
When I took the baby home, and sunk into the reality of being a mom, I realized it is not all cute nursery decor and the smell of baby wash. There are tough days, days that challenge me beyond any job I have ever done before.
Even today, after 7 years of being a mom, I feel challenged by it. The challenge often leads to exhaustion, which can lead to self-doubt. This is the point when I start trying to find time to get away from motherhood, the thing I always wanted to experience.
I sometimes complain, almost agonize, when all my baby wants to do is be in my arms…all…day…long. I had twins and thought my arms would fall off!
I get frustrated when baby wakes at night, upset when they cry for what seems to be no reason at all, and feel put-out when the nap schedule changes and I can’t even find time to take a shower.
I find myself wondering “When will this baby leave me alone?”
I have fallen into the trap of obsessing about this one big thing: Time for myself.I obsess over me time, at a time when my full self is needed to nurture and love these little people. Because, I easily forget how much I wanted to be a mom. I forget, especially at 12AM, and 3AM, and 5AM when I am in the twins’ room, again.
Didn’t I long for holding that little baby in my arms? Didn’t I dream of sweetly rocking them and kissing their forehead as they drifted off to sleep? Had I forgotten how much joy I expected when my belly was growing large during my pregnancies?
And now I just think about how strangled and over-extended I am.
But, what did I think I was getting myself into when I became a mother?
Do I not realize how important I am to these little people? How loved and needed? Do I not appreciate that I am literally the center of the universe for this little life and easily the most popular person in the house, as everyone wants mom’s attention, time, hugs, and love?I love time to myself as much as any mom, and love taking advantage of it, like I am right now to write this post (after my children’s bedtime). It’s refreshing, lovely and often needed on those full days of being a mom, the days we think we fail as moms, those days that despite being strong moms, we have reached our limit of patience.
Everyone says take time for yourself, don’t get burned out, don’t give up everything for the ones you love, and I had bought into that idea readily. Clearly, what matters most is my time, so I planned our day around securing time for me.
It was hard then when the scheduled me-time alluded us. Experienced moms always tell me to hang in there, soak up every moment, look at the bright side in the mess of motherhood. But, that is pretty darn tough when you have only slept three hours that night. I felt like my life was going to fall apart while breastfeeding the twins during their first year. I have never been as sleep deprived.
The truth is I reach the point of exhaustion many times a week. We do not live near family, so there is no one to call upon to rescue me when I am in tears because I have two babies who want to be held, a preschooler who needs attention, and my oldest needing help with homework, all at the same time.But, here’s a truth I want to share: we are so strong as mothers! God created us to bear these children and He most certainly gives each of us the strength (in our own unique ways) required to care for our children, if we are but willing to sacrifice and meet that challenge.
So, we moms have a choice: Do the work of motherhood, as tough as it may be at times, or fight it every step of the way, demanding time for ourselves. Will we focus on what our family needs from us, or keep letting our personal wants cloud our focus and steal our joy?
I resist the idea that personal fulfillment matters more than sacrifice. I know I can not become better as a mom unless I am focusing on doing the work it requires. So, that big obsession with me time? I just don’t have time for it anymore.
Our children do not only need us during certain scheduled hours of the day, when we have secured for ourselves alone time, and are feeling (more) perfectly equipped to mother after fitting in our me time. No, they often need us in the moments when we at our limits, and most want to fit in time alone.
I want to set a better example to my children. If I teach them that time alone is the priority rather than focusing on the big picture of caring for their family, how will that translate into how they care for their own children someday? I have to show strength in my tough moments, allowing my children to witness love. Love is perseverance. We can always give more than we think.
Now, don’t get me wrong. I am not perfect. I am not taking a high and mighty stance as if I never want some time away, but I do need to keep myself in check, keep my priorities in order.
Children are not little forever, and there will be time again for some mommy me time (big chunks of time) as my children grow.
I want to remember the joy and anticipation of motherhood: seeing those ultrasound photos, hearing the heartbeats, holding a newly-born baby in my arms. That is what I need to focus on now.
Motherhood is my time. It is not taking anything away from me, or my personal growth. It is time for me to thrive at being a mom and wife, time for me to use God’s gifts to the fullest extent in raising children unto Him.
Do you find me time to be an essential part of your days? How do you find balance between the needs of your family and your needs to rest and recharge? I’d love to read your tips!
Jaimi Erickson is a mom to 4 (2+twins), a Christian, military wife, and former teacher. She shares encouragement for moms along with frugal activities for infants, toddlers, preschoolers and school age kids on her blog The Stay-at-Home-Mom Survival Guide. Join with her and other moms sharing over on Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and Pinterest.