Last week was a hard week for me. It really was. No exaggerations here!
Husband out of town for week two of two weeks, and just me, all alone, with four sick kids.
It was a mess.
Not to mention me, myself, and I–I was a mess.
There were several mad cleaning binges that left me, well, mad, only to turn around and find that another binge was needed on top of, underneath, and in between that one.
Perhaps you might wonder why I went on a mad cleaning binge after I just wrote so eloquently on the need for refraining from cleaning?!
I must admit, with each swipe of the mop, scrub of the rag, and spray of disinfectant, I thought of that myself. And after a 24/7 stint of sick kids, it seemed like the only defense against a further 24/7 shift of coughing, sneezing, wheezing, vomiting, pooping, and over-the-top whining. It must have done the trick, because, here I am a week later, and only one of four children has a lingering cold.
It could be worse, as well I know.
But in the midst of general nursing and cleaning duties, not to mention a few sleepless nights, (and altogether too many mind-numbing days), I did some major internal rearranging of priorities.
And, if anything, that made all that sickness worth it.
See, this is something that happens to me. I get caught thinking. I get caught thinking far too much. Too much thinking, in fact, that I sometimes forget to act.
I sometimes think that I am more of a black and white person than someone who operates in the gray. I don’t just go with the flow. I require a good long think about all the pros and cons before I can even begin to think about a plan. It becomes incredibly easy to put off the should’s because of the why’s or why not’s.
And just like that, it’s happening again.
Where was I going with this?!
Right–myself, a tired husk of a mother, crawling into bed at the end of the week, trying to hold it together after being dragged through the wringer.
I reflected on what was important to me. What did I want myself to be, besides a mother, caregiver, and over-worked chauffeur?
What do I want my time to do for me?
If there is one thing that speaks to me, it is time. It is what I value the most. Forget clothes, vacations, pretty fingernails, great hair and makeup. Those things don’t speak to me. I don’t understand their language.
But time! It’s so magical. It allows me to build something out of myself–if I use it wisely.
The other night, as I climbed into bed and fought to keep my eyes open after I said my prayers, and long enough to scroll through social media, I came across an article about self-care. The article began by listing a few things that generally come to mind when we hear the phrase “self-care”. You know:
- bubble baths
- trips to the hairsalon
- vacations to tropical islands
- eating great food
I will admit that I just about put my phone down in disgust, but I kept reading on.
I’m glad I did, because the article took a more realistic turn. It suggested that self-care is more than just indulging in society’s idea of self-care. It stated that self-care is more about taking care of yourself as a mother would.
Well, that perked my eyes up! I knew a thing or two about how a mother would care for her children–especially children that were sick, or exhausted.
Not only could I relate on that level, but I have been feeling emotionally and mentally sick and exhausted lately myself.
So what would my mother say to me?
The article gave some good advice about self-care:
- know when to say no to yourself and others
- don’t worry about anyone else’s emotional well-being when you are looking out for your own
- know when to go to bed at night
- know when and what to eat
- know when and how long to exercise
- make and keep good friends
- indulge in worthwhile endeavors
Okay, now this list speaks my language. It aligns more closely with what I value–time.
And, I could hear my mother reading it to me. “Now GollyJess…..”
As I have said before in the beginning of this blog–I don’t know how to achieve what society says I should achieve. I don’t know how to turn my hobbies into money. I don’t know how to achieve amazing contours with overly priced makeup. I don’t know, nor do I care, about putting together a perfectly coordinated birthday party for a child that only wants friends, pizza, and cake. I don’t know how to keep a perfectly decorated home from being torn-apart by three rambunctious boys, and a little girl that is following close behind. And I definitely don’t know how to look perfect doing it.
Listen, I am not judging those that can do it. I am just admitting that I can’t. There was a time when I thought I might be able to try, but then real life happened, and I had to decide what was worth it.
That’s why this list spoke to me. It talks about protecting and replenishing yourself for the right reasons, and in the right ways. It falls in line with my own world-view–consuming doesn’t fill a person long-term, it just masks the symptoms with temporary solutions.
This list reminded me again that, even if I don’t have the money to take a tropical vacation, or the inclination to get my nails done, I can still pamper myself by protecting my self in more mundane ways, like getting a good night’s sleep, or not worrying about dropping out of the PTO because who will take over my job?
It put me back up on the pedestal because I am worth it, not because I am good to look at.
Let me just say here that I do value how I appear to others. Yes, there are days when I rock homeless chic to a whole new level, but there are also days when I rock runway chic. But over time, I have been able to realign my dependence on my looks as something that gives me worth.
It is, however, taking me longer to value my own opinion over others, or to stop worrying about how my actions will affect others. Or to value my time and talents above what I see other people accomplishing.
And here’s the big one that usually causes me to stumble–am I using my time wisely?
Whether or not I use my time wisely really throws me for a loop.
Having four children and a husband that works out of town for two weeks at a time, it is really hard for me to use my time in the way that I “think” I should be using it. And it doesn’t take much effort to find countless success stories of other mothers/adults that seem to have their act together. How often have I uttered under my breath: “just how do they do it?!” Because no one ever admits that they don’t, in fact, do it all on their own.
So, I just assume that they do.
Then I silently curse my children for “wasting” my time.
And that is not the person that I want to be.
I guess I am taking a long time to say what is on my mind, what I am forcing myself to realize every day:
Time well spent does not always equal money.
Time can NOT be about money.
We are so monetized today. Every where I look, I see advertisements about how to turn your hobby or your house into a moneymaking scheme.
I. DON’T. WANT. THAT.
I. REFUTE. THAT.
I. HAVE. COURAGE. TO. UN-BELIEVE. THAT.
My self–my time–my family–is worth more than dollars or cents. Or clothes. Or trips. Or things which moths and rust doth corrupt.
My time is worth learning how to build. How to build things that function. Things that last. Things that work. Things that can be built upon. And things that can build people.
Because, for me, when it all comes down to it, it doesn’t matter what I look like or where I have been, or how much I am worth, if I can’t impart something to those I love the most.
In order to do that, I have to build me.
And I have to value what I have already created.
And that doesn’t cost a thing.