As a mom with young kids, there is nothing more elusive than “me time.” Time gets spread thin to kids, causes, and my husband. Most days are closed without any time spent by myself. Even the bathroom is not sacred any more. You totally know what I mean, right? It leaves me crying out in frustration, “I just need some time for myself!”
Forget a pedicure, I would take a sick day at this point with no one to take care for but myself. So my husband and I work out schedules, bribe some childcare and I get away, maybe for a few hours or even overnight with friends. And it is amazing. Peace. And. Quiet. I desperately need the pampering to leave me rejuvenated and get me through a few more weeks of frustrations with my family.
Have you ever returned home from my solo hiatus feeling refreshed only to succumb to a temper tantrum of irritation just moments after stepping through the door? The kids had a bath, but there is water on the floor. Dinner was cooked, but the kitchen looks like a demolition derby. Piles of laundry need to be folded. The zillion projects started before mommy left magically waited for her to return.
What happened to rejuvenation? The peaceful, grateful, blessed woman returned home and it feels like I took two steps backward instead of ahead. Once again I’m pleading for more “me time.”
A friend suggested that she knew the one and only solution. And it is not more “me time” or a nanny or a cook or a personal trainer. What? It isn’t? That is what every mommy magazine is telling me -- to make more time for myself. Even a Bible study at church encourages me do just that. It has to be the answer. But it isn’t. My friend suggested “serve God by serving your family.” Being self-less will bring the joy and rejuvenation we desire.
I have to admit I really hated this notion. Really. I’m a non-confrontational person, but in this instance I wanted to say, “YOU ARE WRONG!” I thought about it for days and days. I prayed about it. “God, could she be right? Have I been selfish in my need for more time to myself? Is that why I return home and the weariness is right there where I left it?”
I was avoiding my bad attitude by saying I deserved time away by myself. The self-seeking alone time quickly faded to frustration when real life came screaming in again. I felt God answer me in his Word.
Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves.
For where you have envy and selfish ambition, there you find disorder and every evil practice.
It (love) does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.
I Cor 13:5
For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers...
2 Timothy 3:2
The secret seems to lay hidden in being self-less with my family. When I serve them with my whole heart out of love, not just for duty, I find joy because I am serving God. Only irritation and bitterness comes when I begrudge the work set before me. It leaves me wanting to get away from it all.
Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord,
not for human masters, since you know that you will receive
an inheritance from the Lord as a reward.
It is the Lord Christ you are serving.
The same friend who said, “Serve God by serving your family,” gave some good news too. She said that the “me time” that will inevitably come by living a serving life is sweet and rejuvenating. It is an unexpected blessing. Good things are so much better when they are freely given instead of demanded.
Well, I started practicing this advice and amazingly it is true. I thought my children, just by their very nature, had knocked all the selffishness right out of me, but they didn’t (even though they try). It is daily struggle to set me aside and live for someone else.
The very idea that a mother needs to be less selfish has made a few irritated readers I'm sure. “But you don’t understand how much I give and I am NEVER appreciated.” I know. I’ve felt it too. (Okay, I felt it 2 minutes ago). It feels like I can’t give any more. I’ve felt emotionally and physically drained empty. But the answer isn’t in pampered alone time serving me and me alone. Although it temporarily stifles the need for rejuvenation, true refreshment comes from our source of strength; taking in more time with reading the Bible. More prayer. More practicing what we preach.
We are too busy to waste time on things that don't last. All the pampering in the world won't buy contentment... or a servant's heart. The self-seeking alone time quickly fades to frustration when real life comes screaming in again. Let this be our prayer for everything we need today:
I love you, LORD, my strength.
The LORD is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer;
my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge,
my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.
Written by Alysun, as inspired by Grace (a blog friend) in her article, "What About Mom?"