Thursday, January 19, 2012

Mommy's Project 52:25 Making

Time is something that all of us have.  We all have 24 hours in a day, and it's up to each of us to use our time in any way we see fit. We grow and learn, we go to school, eventually get jobs, and eventually we become adults (at least according to our age) and some become parents.

Once we become mothers, specifically, we make time for our children, our husbands/partners, and the needs of our growing families.  It's not uncommon for mothers to forget to make time for themselves.  This is exactly the trap I fell into myself after becoming a mother.  I forgot how to make time for ME, the most important person in my life.

My first, Ethel, was born in November of 2004.  It was a tough transition, but I eventually got into the groove of motherhood, making time for her needs of being fed, clean, and entertained.  I made time to make bottles, shop for fresh produce, made time to make baby food, made time to take her for walks, made time a few times a week to give her a bath, you get the picture.  I devoted my time to her, without fail.  Of course, that's what mothers do, right?  We devote our time to our children.  It's not like it's an option not to, right?

What we mothers often fail to recognize is that we've replaced the time we used to spend on ourselves, with time spent on fulfilling the needs of the little creatures we created.  We reduce the amount of time we spend on things like reading a book, taking a nap, exercise, or even seeing friends.  We put ourselves last, behind laundry, , cooking, dishes, diapers, bottles, baths, cleaning floors, wiping up whatever comes out of our little creatures, and just about anything else that needs tending to in our household.

My second, Fred, was born in March of 2007.  Again, I adjusted to meeting the needs of this vulnerable little creature, and dove right in to all things Fred.  And Ethel.  And Hot Dad.  And the house.  And the dishes.  And the laundry.  And... you get the picture.

It wasn't until the winter of 2009-2010 that I reached my breaking point.  I'd managed to dig myself into a hole that I couldn't seem to see out of.  I'd successfully immersed myself in everyone but myself.  Sure, I got out and did some things like scrapbooking, kept playing softball in the summer, and other occasional activities, but, I felt like I'd lost myself.  I had no idea what I did with my time, nor could I figure out where to fit anyone else but those I was already tending.  In other words, I couldn't seem to realize how or where in my days to make the time for myself.

I sought help.  I waved the red flag.  I'll never forget that day.  I made the call, and I admitted that I was unhappy.  I was lost.  I needed things to change, and needed help to do so.  She asked me if I exercise, asked if I did this or that, what kind of books I like to read.  It was as if she was speaking a foreign language.  I could relate to none of this.  Time to exercise, read a book?  That's crazy talk.

I was given an assignment.  Leave the house.  Alone.  Do something for ME.  No grocery shopping, no taking the kids somewhere, no serving others.  Just me.  I was terrified.

I accepted the assignment and made time for ME.  I left the house every Sunday morning for months and months.  I took a book or my laptop, went and had some coffee, sometimes I'd even spoil myself and get a breakfast treat.  I learned about being selfish, and learned that it's OK to be so.  I learned that I am important and can be happy.  I learned to treat myself.

Eventually, the weather got better and weekend mornings were spent outside as a family, with neighbors, or going to the park.  I emerged that spring with a new outlook, and much happier.  Eventually, my mornings with coffee and a book fell off my radar, and I made time at different times during the week for ME.

That summer, I returned to my Sunday morning ME time by going running.  Rather than sitting with a cup of coffee and people watching, I went out on my own and ran.  I made time for it.  I put it on my calendar. I made it a priority.  I made ME a priority.  It kept me from going out of my mind, and it helped me understand that I matter, and I am a priority.  I put myself first.

When that winter set in, I still made time go running, adding more time during the week for ME.  I made more and more time for running me.  I felt better and better.  I began making time for others, but not by putting myself in line behind their needs, but by using my time to benefit me and those around me.

Making time for ME has not only helped me, but has helped my family.  It's so true what they say, 'if momma ain't happy, ain't nobody happy!'.  My daughter has recognized my efforts by greeting me, sweaty and out of breath after a run, with pictures she makes while I'm out.  My kids know I run, they know it makes me happy, and they've watched me race a few times, and even did a race of their own!
Mommy and the kids after our races!

All this to say that as mothers, we made dinner, we make the bed, we make time for everyone around us.  The single most important thing we can make is not tangible, nor is it even something we create; it's time for ourselves.  When we make time for us, everyone wins.

Coming home from a 5 mile run is that much sweeter when you come home to pictures like this.