Lazy and selfish.
Those words have been blaring through my mind all day. I haven’t been able to get away from them. They are tethered to me like the chains old Marley had to carry around for eternity.
They feel about as heavy too.
I don’t know about all of you, but those words are my worst fears. As a mom, I can’t think of too many things that are worse than lazy and selfish.
In an effort to rid myself of them, I decided to look at what I did today. Here’s my tally.
I hosted a play date for a few kids, and while they were all entertained, I was playing with Tessie.
I tidied up my downstairs.
I worked out for 45 minutes.
I made three healthy meals for my kids.
I walked 3 miles with Magoo and helped coach her softball practice tonight.
I *almost* finished reading Story of a Soul by St Therese.
No, I didn’t write the great American novel, but I also wasn’t sitting on my behind all day watching television and eating popcorn.
It was a productive day.
It should have been a day I was proud of.
And yet I wasn’t. And truth be told, I’m still not.
Today felt selfish and self-indulgent. I felt like I was neglecting my children in the pursuit of my own goals.
And most of all, most telling of all I think, I felt drained. I felt like I had absolutely nothing to give. The well felt dry. Words of reproof spoken all day in our minds can do that to a person.
I’ve been thinking a lot today about what it means to take care of ourselves in this season when we have so many who need us to take care of them. Is it a good thing to take time for ourselves? And how much time is enough?
I joined this book club this spring. It’s based on the curriculum and mission of Well Read Mom. The mission of this group is to encourage women to read quality books and join together to discuss them. The goal is to use this literature as a way to enhance your life of the mind as these books and these ideas follow you throughout your day. The literature and the fellowship we engage in around it is meant to help us live more fully and in a more engaged manner.
The problem, however, is that there is a lot of reading. And it’s not short reading, and a lot of it isn’t light reading. It challenges you, and it expects something of you.
And I love this. I mean I really, really love this.
And yet I have a lot of guilt around it. After all, I’m spending all of this time focusing on me and my mind when I could be spending that time reading to my girls or cleaning the house or grocery shopping. It’s indulgent, isn’t it?
These were some of the thoughts that were going through my head today as I was reading St Therese. And then I came upon these words.
“DRAW ME, WE SHALL RUN after you in the odor of your ointments. Oh Jesus, it is not even necessary to say: ‘When drawing me, draw the souls whom I love!’ This simple statement: ‘Draw me’ suffices; I understand, Lord, that when a soul allows herself to be captivated by the odor of your ointments, she cannot run alone, all the souls whole she loves follow in her train.” (Italics are Therese’s and is where she is quoting Canticles of Canticles 1:3.)
Here she is obviously talking about spirituality, but that’s a beautiful sentiment, isn’t it? And it’s so applicable to so many areas of motherhood.
Where we go, we bring our people with us. Where we are drawn, they will be drawn. What we are attracted to will be brought in front of their gaze.
And it reminds me yet again that parenting isn’t a job. It’s not something we clock in and out of. It’s not a task list. And it’s not something that we can easily succeed at or fail at.
It’s a vocation. It’s a calling to lead those behind you and carry them forward with you where you go. It’s a lifestyle.
And it expects so very much of us.
Sure, it expects us to wake in the middle of the night for sometimes years on end, and it requires meal preparation and homework help. It requires laundry and vacuuming. It requires hugs and kisses and words spoken on confidence.
But maybe more so than that, it expects us to be our best selves so we can draw our people forward into the places we want them to go.
When I sit down and read, I’m not just selfishly filling my mind. I’m enriching it, and I’m taking those thoughts and those ideas, and I’m allowing them to fill up my life and make it more whole. And it’s from that perspective that I approach my children. As a more whole person and more complete person. As a closer approximation of the person I would like them to follow.
And the same goes for any area we try to improve ourselves in. It goes for exercise and friendship and marriage building and spirituality. Any way we enrich our own lives, just enriches the lives of our people. Where we are drawn, so too they will be drawn.
So go out into the world and fill your buckets, Mama. Make yourselves full and fulfilled. And take all of that and shower it upon your people. Take every ounce that was given to you and that you have built up in yourself and empty it all out into the lives and the hearts of your family. The more you build up in yourself, the more you can then bestow upon others around you.
As a mom, you are a gift. You are one of the most amazing gifts God has given to your people. Don’t let that gift get dusty from disuse. Don’t let it get lost in some dark corner somewhere.
Be you. Be beautiful.
And then draw your people forward.