Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Me Time

The busy energy this time of year really puts a magnifying glass on issues and stresses, doesn't it? One of the issues I've been discussing with other mamas is that of designated 'me time.' The act of putting a title on it, carving it out, ensuring it happens, pining for more. Busy Christmas activities, the extras that go along with the season, can leave little time for quiet mama time. It seems to be a concern specific to mothers, as everyone else just gets to enjoy it, taking it for granted. My little sister is 19 and in school, but the side-by-side comparison of my life with hers illustrates how very little time she is required to dedicate to others. She isn't selfish or isolated, it's just the phase.

And this is our phase: the mothers of young children and the need for Me Time. The daddies? They don't seem to have a problem. It certainly isn't a common discussion between Rich and I, this need for him to have more time to himself. Are men just better at clearly identifying this need and making it the norm? I suspect it has less to do with him and more to do with me. After all, some time fairy isn't going to descend upon me from the timeless vacuum of space to give me more time in a day.

Setting a table for dinner with my girl friends: a fun creative solo activity. :)

I realized, when Rich was away on a man trip, then up North for court and lately feeling under the weather, that when days go by without me getting to do something just for me, I get easily overwhelmed. My patience runs thin. I don't like to think of myself as anything but the best mama ever, so realizing these shortcomings took awhile. I read cautionary tales of mamas who let themselves go on like this too long, and hurt those they love most. I cringe to think that I, and any other well-intentioned mama, is close to the edge without making the effort to regroup and centre.

I awake to one of the girls first noises every morning, not an alarm clock. I get them up, make them breakfast, dress them, get Abby to school, run errands (usually with a kiddo in tow), make lunch, prepare dinner, clean up, write Christmas cards, tidy messes and unpack the last of the boxes. I don't mind doing most of these things, and indeed they bring me joy and satisfaction. I love being home with my girls, having this house to ourselves, and being a mama and wife. Among all those things I do serving my family, if there isn't any time left for me to take care of myself, then things get tense.

Dinner with friends! No kids!

It might not be fair that I have to make this time happen, but it is what it is. I am making an effort to do daily yoga and/or meditations, read, take baths, walk the dog (with or without a stroller), make dinner in peace or go out on an errand by myself every day. I'm learning it's not indulgent to do these things-- it's essential. The mamas I talked to about this went to the gym, took yoga classes, some even locked themselves in the bathroom with coffee and a book!

So tonight, I am going to take my first solo bath since moving in here, light a sea salt-scented candle (say that three times fast!), read some Gilbert and hopefully wrap a few gifts. I'm lucky that Rich recognizes my need for solo time (he calls it the Jekyll and Hyde effect, how comical), so he'll feed Summer a bottle on night she's taking forever to settle down. I am greedily anticipating my bath!

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