It amazes me how seemingly random conversation – albeit interesting and enjoyable – comes back to haunt your later readings and then ponderings. Such is the occassion.
AG and I were chatting about her ordination interview and about questions that were raised to her regarding self-care*. Pastors join the guilty party with other service-oriented vocations like teachers and social workers when it comes to neglecting time to recharge the batteries. I’ve known some that are good at retreating on more of an annual basis, but when it comes to weekly Sabbath or daily downtime, it just doesn’t make the iCal. So I think it’s a wise question to be asking those embarking on such a servant-journey. It should also be added to the birthing classes book. Indulge me here…
On the whim of a craving for self-developing, reflective non-fiction, I picked up my copy of Writing Motherhood, a birthday gift from my sister. I had started it last fall but had not returned (some of the information seemed a bit trivial to keep my focus but, as I guessed, the introspective mood gave it some grace). I skimmed through the pre-read chapters for review and came across the chapter on the Time Out, an advocacy for the reader to make sure to take time… out… in order to stay fresh in both writing and mothering. Wise advice.
The chapter closes with a quote by Alice Domar and Henry Dreher (how more than one person can be credited for saying it is beyond me…): “Self-nurture is about much more than treating ourselves to a nice movie or pleasant massage once in a while. It is about reclaiming our right to pleasure and wholeness, and it requires us to make strong statements to loved ones about our limits, boundaries and needs.”
The word pleasure got my attention as I’m currently co-reading Eat, Pray, Love. Though I find the author to be increadibly selfish (my view is that you’re not allowed to choose not to be married any more just because you “don’t feel like it”), but she raises a good point in her section on visiting Italy that we Americans know little about true pleasure. We are indulgent and selfish, but we know little about unplugging the distractions long enough to know what brings us great joy. We’re well entertained, but lack an understanding of what recharges our batteries.
I’ve always been a strong advocate for Sabbath practices and, in the past, have worked hard to establish those boundaries. However, I have found great difficulty in defining fair expectations of downtime while mothering. I seem to dive from selfless giving (and wiping and cooking and rocking and packing lunches) straight into selfish pity mode. I don’t need is to cry about how tired I am, my frequent reaction… what I need is to find a why to recharge.
Often when H gets worked up (typically over something very insignificant) I ask him if he’d like to go lay down and rest for a while. He’ll go to his bed and lay down with Buckeye and Binky, the 2 things that make him happiest and help him relax. Somehow I need to figure out what it looks like for me to “rest for a while” at the same time 2 little creatures depend on me to make sure limbs and appendages stay attached. I don’t have the freedom to escape for coffee outings or shopping sprees every day, but surely there’s a time each week that I can build in a personal haven that brings energy to my mind and refreshes the love in my heart.
*There was more, and less than this in my conversation with AG, but it provided fodder for these later thoughts.