me time

January 29, 2010 at 12:19 am 9 comments

Nathan took the girls on a date today. They went downtown to the carousel and to Butterfly Herbs. This isn’t unusual, our little ladies love to accompany Papa on excursions, and when they depart I ordinarily do mundane things, like clean the house, walk the dog, and work. But today was different because we planned this outing a week in advance with the idea that I could have a couple hours to do other things if I so desired.

I walked Henry in the sun, practiced yoga, and took a shower.

Ok, I walk Henry every day, and I take showers too, (at least every now and then), so we certainly didn’t need to plan ahead for those things to happen, but an hour of yoga sure is difficult to squeeze into a typical day. And to be fair, the shower wasn’t my usual type either. I actually pumiced my feet, and it was the middle of the day (not after midnight), and I didn’t have to hurry through the drying off process in order to scurry to the bedroom to help Echo get back to sleep. In fact, the girls came home and helped me trim my toenails and push my cuticles around. It was fun. All of it was fun.

But here is the thing. People like to call this kind of mama focused time “self-care”, and they generally advocate that ALL mothers SHOULD take time out for self-care, that it is SUPER important to take time away from the children to replenish oneself so that you are a satisfied human being and even a better mother.  And if you don’t do this, you are somehow either wrong or fooling yourself. I think this is bullshit.

It sounds almost martyr-like, but there is nothing more self-caring in my life than tending to our girls. It is almost entirely self-serving. Sometimes I tell myself that it is in the best interest of the children, that attachment parenting raises independent, intelligent, successful adults, and though this is true, it is not why I do it. I do it for myself. It feels good. And though it is uncommon, or even blasphemous to say so, I don’t actually want too much of a break. Perhaps as a novelty, or an odd treat, but certainly not as a necessity, not as the only way to restore myself to health or sanity.

Don’t get me wrong, I certainly did enjoy myself today. But I want to be careful what stories I tell. Am I really suffering because I don’t get to attend a yoga class five times a week? Am I really suffering because I don’t get enough “me time”?  No.  It’s true I don’t go to a yoga class five times a week and I’m not sure you could call any of my time “me time”, but I am not suffering, I am thriving.

In ten short years I will be begging my children to pile on top of me, play with me, and occupy all of my space and time. It won’t be long before they are gone and I have nothing but time to fill, and start taking long showers just to pass the time. There will come a time when I am, like my own grandmother, alone in my living room waiting for it to be late enough to go to bed.

But tonight I am not alone. I am freshly groomed, washed, and wishing the clock would move a bit more slowly instead. Tomorrow I will carry on a more typical day filled entirely with fairy pretend and nursing, and though a reprieve from these feisty children is not in store, I am certain that I will feel just as loved, and just as cared for … only in a different way.


Entry filed under: favorites, life lessons, parenting principles. Tags: , .

sneaky thoughts good golly

9 Comments Add your own

  • 1. fillydesigns  |  January 29, 2010 at 11:53 am

    Wow. I really like that one. I think I might cry. That was an aggressive rebuttal to the being productive need and a pushy reminder that there is no hierarchy when it comes to the day. Each option- yoga, fairies, walking, computer time, are just options to chose from. And all of them can be enlivening and all of them can be depleting. But in the end- yes, actually at the end of your life- which one will still carry value?

    • 2. nataliechristensen  |  January 29, 2010 at 12:53 pm

      That’s funny, I have been sort of writing a different response (in my mind) to the need to be productive (or yours in particular), but decided to write this post in the meantime. It seems that people pull whatever they need to hear out of a post no matter what the intended point was. What a great reminder to me to just write what is in my heart and see where it resonates for others.
      Do you really feel pushed around by this post?

  • 3. kris  |  January 29, 2010 at 7:32 pm

    i LOVE this. I LOVE that you called bullshit. and you are able to say it in a way that doesn’t make others wrong for doing it differently. i have always felt this strange hair-go-up-on-the-back-of-my-neck feeling when people tell me that i HAVE to take time for myself, or time for my relationship. it just doesn’t ring true to me. and if i stay vigilant about the victim mentality not being given space, then i see oh so clearly that this is EXACTLY how i want to be living life. to say that oh i never get time to move my body is total bullshit. i could make time, even without leaving my children, but i don’t. so obviously other things mean more to me right now. the power of realizing that we are making these choices and that being with our children all the time can be the deepest most profound self care EVER.

  • 4. Magical Childhood  |  January 29, 2010 at 10:33 pm

    I felt the same when my kids were little, and to a large extent I still do. I love to be with them and don’t want any sort of escape. But nearly 12 years in, four kids in, I do like my “me” time. 🙂 Of course, since we homeschool and are all together almost every minute, it’s certainly balanced with mostly us time!

    I’m also happy to report that even my big kids still want to pile on me, play with me and fill my space, which I think is a wonderful result of attachment parenting.

    A lovely post!

  • 5. Joanna Smetanka  |  January 30, 2010 at 11:42 am

    i have a gym membership that i mostly got because we don’t have a shower, and i desperately need a shower, and we don’t have enough water during the winter months to take regular baths. so anyway, i got this membership with the bonus of moving my body, albeit indoors which isn’t my preferance. but acually, i hardly ever use it because I’d rather be sleeping next to my babes than awakening at 5 am to go get exercise. not sure why i’m writing, except that right now i am needing space from the creatures in the living room who are needing to go OUTSIDE!!! thanks for the post, I mostly agree 🙂 by the way, I haven’t had a shower in over a week!! today I AM going to the gym, if for nothing else than to shower…

    • 6. nataliechristensen  |  January 30, 2010 at 12:30 pm

      When we can afford it I think I’d like a gym membership too. I’d love to take a class or two, soak in the spa. Aaaah. I’m certainly not against taking the time to do things that feel good, I am mostly rebelling against the idea that you SHOULD, or MUST, or else you are doing it wrong. I wold love the choice, but not the pressure.

  • 7. Joanna Smetanka  |  January 30, 2010 at 4:34 pm

    totally. i have felt the “concerned look” plenty by people who think I don’t choose to be with my kids most of the time. like they feel sorry for me maybe? i actually can’t stand that, as if I’m a victim to feel sorry for, when actually this is what I want. thanks for the post. and if you join a gym, I highly recommend the Women’s Club, it’s soooo very nice. If you want any info about it, let me know and I will fill you in 🙂

  • 8. Angela Malson  |  January 31, 2010 at 8:18 pm

    i love the idea of being with your children as self-care. that is how i have always felt, and it drives me crazy when others think they know what is best for me. you need to take time for yourself, ugh. i think i know what i need, and honestly i would much rather be home and with my family then out without them. i have tried it, don’t like it, so know that this time when they are little is so fleeting, i will have plenty of time when they are older to go out if i choose, or not. but, i agree that the choice is ours. and, i am so comforted by taking my shower after they are all asleep and it is quiet, even if that only happens every few days. thanks for this post, feels so good to know i am not alone in feeling this way.

  • 9. Amy McGregor  |  May 8, 2010 at 11:51 pm

    So, I know I’m a little behind- I’m catching up on the posts slowly 😉 This post really rings true with me. I have always felt like a freak for rarely, if ever, feeling that I need space from my kids. I have fellow mamas telling me how lucky I am when my ex takes my girls for 2 weeks at a time- the entire time my heart is separated from my body- I really empathize with you and Nathan in this way, especially with Bella. I find no joy in being away from my girls. When I visit the grocery store without them or end up at Butterfly on a break between classes I feel completely naked without their conversation and energy. We just started Jaedyn back in public school after homeschooling for a year. I miss her all day long, from the time that she walks out of the door, during lunch, during classes that she used to join me in- Maddie asks me all day long where “sissy” is. We are such a strong family unit and I feel like the more we are apart, the less we know each other. I feel like I’m being a tad dramatic about this- it’s late. I just wanted to say thank you for being a voice that I can relate to when all I ever seem to hear is “I need to get away”. I thing I’m sad about school too. It’s such a hard decision right now for some reason. Thanks again for your beautiful writing.


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