True confession: I still struggle — a lot — to make time for myself. It’s funny in the not-so-funny-way that ridiculous things are because I’m the first person to tell a friend to take time for herself. I’ve been known to say “you’re a better wife/mother/employee/etc. when you make yourself a priority.” And, even, “you can’t pour from an empty cup.”
Why, then, is it so very hard for me to take my own advice?
It’s not because I have an unsupportive husband. Rather, it’s quite the opposite. Mr. B consistently encourages me — sometimes even “forces” me — to take time for myself. And it’s not because I have a lack of things I’d like to do: I miss running; I love reading at a coffee shop while drinking a mug of green tea; I enjoy taking long walks and listening to nature; I regularly wish I had more time for writing; and I have some really great friends I don’t spend enough time with.
A big part of it is that I so love being with my family. I’d choose a night chasing Dottie around the playground, followed by hanging out with Mr. B on the couch over a night out any day of the week. They’re my happy place; they make my soul come alive.
Part of it is guilt. I’m away from Dottie — and Mr. B — every day all day long while I work. By the time I get home after picking Dottie up from daycare it’s 6, if not shortly after. Then, we eat dinner. That leaves us with about an hour to play, wind down and get ready to put Dottie down for bed. We’re pretty well limited to the weekends to squeeze in as much family time as we can. Every second we have together is precious.
I wrote earlier this year about finding my “fringe hours” in order to better fill my cup with things that fulfill me. As you can see, I’m still struggling with it. Yes, my family fulfills me — but there are other things that are equally important to making me … well … me.
I’m s…l…o…w…l…y getting there, with Mr. B’s gentle (but sometimes not-so-gentle) urging. The other night I went to a concert I’ve pretty much been waiting 20 years to see: Ani DiFranco.* When Ani walked on stage, I actually got chills. As the night went on, I felt myself come alive. That part of me has been in hibernation a long time, and I was so happy to welcome her back.
That night was a reminder that I am a person outside of my family, outside of my job. It was a reminder that every part of me works together to make myself whole — that includes the part that’s a mom and a wife. It also includes the part of me that sometimes likes to sit at a bookstore with my laptop, a cup of tea and no interruptions. It even includes the part that likes to dance the night away.
Does that mean the guilt magically disappeared? Or that I’d suddenly rather go out than rock my screaming toddler until she falls asleep before spending the evening on the couch with Mr. B?
No. It doesn’t. I am a work in progress — we all are. But, I’ve already felt the changes that one night out made. I can only imagine how I’d feel if I could squeeze out a little time here and there to fill my proverbial cup.
*I should note that I never would have gone to the concert if Mr. B hadn’t bought the ticket for me and followed it up by literally pushing me out the door Sunday night.