Umm… remember two weekends ago when I went to Boston for the Warrior Mom Conference? (Yeah, yeah. I haven’t stopped talking about it how could anybody forget?) Well this past Sunday was basically The Day of Ruth. I was hosting a yoga and breathing class for the mom’s group I belong to. This conflicted with my husband’s annual family reunion. God bless my husband when I started talking about how I would make it all work, he said, “How about you go to yoga and come home to a quiet house? I’ll take the kids to the family reunion. It will be fun.”
This wasn’t a test. He wasn’t expecting (or desiring) me to respond, “No. No. I’ll have somebody else host and we can all go to the reunion.” He simply was telling me that I should take some time to myself. No strings attached.
#3 – Thriving mothers understand the need for self-fullness and that self-fullness is in service of her child(ren)
Self-fullness is a new term to me. It means just like it sounds… keeping yourself full — energy levels where you can thrive. Write down three things you need to feel emotionally well. Those are the non-negotiables of achieving self-fullness.
I’m an introvert. My batteries recharge when I am alone. I need downtime from people. My husband is an extrovert. He gains energy being around other people. It’s a balancing act as we plan our time together. Unfortunately for my husband, my job requires me to be with people and interact with people. His does too, but the difference is that I could spend an entire weekend at home with our little family and be perfectly fine never putting my shoes on to leave the house and he would go nuts. We compromise and recognize that we each need something different. Hence, he takes the kids to his family reunion while I go to yoga and enjoy five peaceful hours of our house completely to myself. It was heaven, I assure you. For him, it might have been torture.
Now when I’m given such precious gifts, my mind races with how to spend them. Of course cleaning out my closet was the first thing that came to mind, which doesn’t make me feel full. It does make me feel accomplished, but ultimately depletes my energy. After I pushed aside the guilt and concern that my in-laws might like me less and the disappointment that I wouldn’t be able to see them myself, I reflected on how I would spend this precious half day — mostly agenda-less.
I kicked it off right with the yoga and breathing class. A friend picked me up so we got to spend the drive to and from chatting about life and other stuff, which fills me up. Healthy friendships are a key to my emotional wellness and self-fullness. As we pulled back into the driveway to part ways after two hours of deep breathing and movement, all thoughts of closet cleaning drifted away. I considered out loud a nap, but figured it was too late in the day for anything more than a kipper (20 minutes). Sleep is a non-negotiable for me. It is the bedrock of my emotional health. I bypassed the nap in favor of tucking myself in early, knowing that everybody would be worn out from the day.
Instead, I read, wrote, took a bubble bath, enjoyed a dinner (one that nobody else likely would have enjoyed) all by myself on the patio, and drank wine. It was magical, recharging, and perfectly mine. So I get it, the need for self-fullness. The second part may be the most important though… that it is in service to our child(ren).
I started this week on a recharged battery. Without the prodding of my husband, it is likely I would have faced Monday exhausted from an over filled weekend. I’m a better mother when my batteries are charged. I show more patience, empathy, and engagement. Those are all things my kids need and I can’t fill myself when I don’t have time to myself.
Perhaps more important to me is that I’m showing my kids that it is okay to take care of themselves, in spite of the demands all around them. Demonstrating that sometimes it is more important to pass up a fun event in an effort to choose what is best for me. My husband does this for them nearly everyday when he runs on the treadmill in our basement. If they wake up early and don’t want to snuggle in bed with me, they often go down to find him in hopes he will take care of their every desire. He takes care of their needs (as I would too), but they understand that they can choose to watch him run or find something that entertains them on their own. For Littles, I want her to know that it isn’t just boys who take care of themselves… girls do too… without guilt that they are sacrificing the needs and wants of others in the process.
This is the third post in a series inspired by one of my favorite sessions of the Warrior Mom Conference (#WarriorMomCon). Kate Kripke presented on Thriving After PMAD (Postpartum Mood and Anxiety Disorders) where she asked all of us, “What does a thriving mother do?” Her list of ten blew me away and they aren’t just for moms with PMADs… they are for everybody!