It seemed a fitting conclusion to the Mom’s Corner series “What About Me?” would be to let you read a story from a mom who personally experienced both sides of the question we have been considering. If you haven’t read the other articles, please do so. This story was sent to me in response to one of the earlier “What About Me?” articles in this series. To understand the whole heart and intention of what this mom is sharing, it is important that you read those previous Corners as well.
Story from a Homeschool Mom:
I wanted to tell you a little story along the lines of that to which you have been referring in the Mom’s Corners–the worldly advice we get.
Several years ago, I had an e-mail conversation with one of my sisters-in-law. I was telling her something about what our family was up to–not complaining, just telling her my projects, the children’s stuff, and whatever home improvement project hubby was up to. I didn’t think anything unusual about what I “had on my plate.” Shortly thereafter, my sister-in-law e-mailed back with sympathy for my busy life and immediately dispensed her amateur psychological advice that I should really take time out for myself. As she said, “You need some me-time.”
I will admit that after her “words of wisdom” sank in for a day or so, I caught myself thinking about what she’d said and wondering: was she right? After all, she wasn’t the first one to tell me that I was one hard-working mama. Maybe I did “deserve” to have some time off from my rigorous lifestyle! I fondly remembered the days when I had “lots” of time to work on MY projects, when running an errand was a simple thing (no car seats and dawdling around for little legs to keep up), when mealtime didn’t involve coercion (“because xyz is good for you!”); when buying a candy bar at the checkout did not incite a riot, and I never gave a thought to its non-nutritious value! Oh, and the quiet evenings!
I got pulled into her philosophy. Why, I let myself get into a rather grumpy mental huff for a few days, and started wondering where I could go to do as my sister-in-law suggested and “get away” for some me-time. But wait! Get away? Why does the “world” think we simply MUST “get away” (go somewhere) in order to feel happy or feel rejuvenated? Why can’t we see that we can “get away” from the world in our own homes? Or that “getting away” can be completely UNnecessary when we see our families, their neediness of us (moms and wives), and our homes as a BLESSING!!! I’d never had a major “need” to get away from it all until my sister-in-law suggested I deserved some me-time.
I remember thinking, as you outlined in your very excellent newsletter, that there is NOTHING in Scripture that encourages us to desire to be selfish. On the other hand, there are EXCELLENT passages reminding us that whatever we do, we are to do it ALL to the glory of God. To tie this up, I’ll tell you: when you realize the BLESSING your family is–straight from God–you don’t get the feeling that you need some time to get away from them. A Homeschool Mom
In this “What About Me?” series, my heart has been to encourage moms who are pouring out their lives into their families. These moms have a calling with eternal purpose and benefits–loving and serving their husbands and children. Our families are the greatest blessings the Lord could possibly give to us. We, in turn, are blessed as we give our lives back to them. In the midst of the sometimes busyness and “dailyness” of life, though, moms can face discouragement, especially if they begin looking at themselves and wondering when they get to let go of responsibility and have some fun.
There are two main points I would like to make clear once again as we conclude this series. First, the problem is not “fun” itself, but rather a focus on it. When I begin to think that I “have to have” time for my own pursuits or that I “need” to get away for time alone, then I am likely to experience self-pity when I don’t get that fun or individual time. Jesus said I am to die to self, not fuel it. I am not saying that we will never have time for relaxation or ever be able to pursue something of personal interest to us, because we will. However, when that becomes my purpose in life and my daily goal, I am frustrated and unhappy.
The Lord Jesus knows the needs of my life even better than I know them myself. He graciously brings into my life what will meet those needs so that I don’t have to be focused on them or contriving how to get them met myself. For example, two summers ago, our adult daughter wanted to visit friends in Alaska. Because of the long flight, she asked for a family member to travel with her. After a family conference, I was the one chosen to accompany her. During our stay in Alaska, I often had several hours to myself most days–hours of quiet, Bible reading, prayer, and no responsibility. What a contrast from my normal life! I missed my family, but I relished every moment of this rest the Lord had given to me–a rest that came from Him, not one that I had demanded.
I don’t want to make any mom feel guilty for doing something she enjoys or having occasional times away from her children. That isn’t the heart cry of this series. The Lord can and does provide special pleasures in our lives that are exactly what we like to do and also what we would need. He gives them to us, and we can delight in them. I want, though, for my thoughts to be resting on His ability to take care of me rather than having a mindset that I deserve a particular amount of free time and fun or that I can’t function properly without it. With thoughts of self, I quickly become bitter and angry because what I think I need so often doesn’t happen.
The second point I would like to restate has to do with what I consider to be relaxing and enjoyable–what I do for “me time” when it is available. As I view my family to be a special blessing from the Lord, then more and more my desire is to be with them rather than away from them. I prefer to do something with a child or my husband rather than to do something by myself or with a friend. We use outings as times to be with our children. “Me” time becomes family time, by choice.
It is my prayer that as mothers we will be continually looking to our Lord Jesus Christ for the strength to sustain us through the tasks He has set before us each day. Rather than looking at our daily responsibilities as something to get through so we can move on to what we really want to do, may we delight in our mothering, schooling, and homemaking jobs. May we be content mothers with our thoughts on how we can be obedient to our Lord Jesus through loving and serving our families.