I read something today written by a friend. She really poured her heart out about, well, life in general, and it was pretty heartbreaking because I understood exactly where she was coming from. If you're not an introvert, you probably don't understand this, but we introverts "recharge by being alone." That's what she said, but it's totally true. It's not a matter of not loving our kids and our husbands, because we totally do, it's just that while we need "quality time" with our families as a whole, or just our husbands, or just our friends, sometimes we just need alone time. The problem with being a mom is: it's hard to get alone time. We don't even get to go to the bathroom by ourselves (please tell me eventually this will change).
For the most part we don't really set a time aside for being alone, partially because most of us don't even realize we need it, and partially because we feel guilty that we don't want to spend every waking second staring at our kids. Our lack of a real break causes us to feel overwhelmed and eventually shut down, so we try to steal a "few minutes" here and there by being on Facebook or Pinterest or whatever and end up wasting a bunch of time, but that makes us feel guiltier. Eventually we just break down to the detriment of our husbands and children, just like my friend described (though I don't know if she wastes a bunch of time doing nothing in a bad attempt to get alone time like I do).
I was discussing this phenomena of "alone time" with another friend today, and she said, "The worst is when you're a Christian mom and you are told you have to have a 'morning quiet time' to be a good Christian....when did we decide we had to do it this way? It's not like it's a Biblical mandate to be alone in your closet first thing in the morning." Sure, sure, morning seems like a good idea, there's a lot of people and blogs out there telling me why I'll be more productive and happy and the household will run smoother if I wake up at 4:30am so that I can get a half hour of quiet time before my kids wake up. Uh, no. I am not a morning person. Waking up at 4:30am means a half hour of staring blankly at my coffee cup, trying to make sense of the words in my Bible which seem to fade in and out, and literally panicking when I hear the creak from the bedroom upstairs indicating that my son has crawled out of bed 15 minutes early, thereby decreasing my "quiet time" from a half to a quarter hour. No thank you, been there, done that, terrible idea. I'm glad that it works for some people, but just because it works for some people doesn't mean it works for me....speaking of things I need to have grace for myself about.
I think that's one of the biggest ways Satan keeps us from doing stuff is by convincing us we aren't doing it the right way, so we might as well not do it at all. That's why I wasn't reading my Bible, somehow I bought into the lie that if I wasn't focusing (which, as you know, is hard to do either half asleep or with two kids running around) it wasn't worth doing at all. And everyone knows you can't pray unless you have at least 30 kid-free quiet minutes to groan in travail. Haha. Right. But, in the back of my head, I really think that, so I just skip it so much of the time.
We think, "well, I can't wake up at 4:30am to get a few minutes without the kids, so I might as well skip it. I can't get in my prayer closet without a toddler trying to drive cars over my feet, so I might as well skip it. I can't read my Bible because I can't really focus on it and write deep notes and highlight passages, because the last time I tried little Susie drew scribbles on John 2, so I might as well skip it." We don't get the things we need because we can't figure out a way to do it the "right way."
I think we just need to throw out the "right way" and do it whatever way we can. If that means reading our Bible in the living room while our kids watch Mickey Mouse Clubhouse (sans highlighter), so be it. If that means locking myself in my bedroom with a book while the husband watches the kids, even if it's Saturday evening and we should be spending it as a family, so be it. Who says what the "right way" should be anyway?
P.S. I don't know about you guys, but most of my reluctance to leave my kids with my husband isn't because he's upset about it, it's because I feel guilty that I need time away from them. Guilt just isn't a good reason to do or not do anything, especially if I'm the only one that cares. I know this isn't applicable to all of you, extroverts or single parents or people whose husbands are extroverts so they aren't as understanding about "alone time" as mine is. I'm just sharing what's applicable to me. And the reality is, my husband cares less about me needing alone time than about me randomly freaking out because I'm totally overwhelmed because I haven't had a second without someone demanding my attention in weeks. In fact, he even understands it, but since he gets solitary time at work he doesn't have fall-apart moments like I do.
P.P.S. Preschool starting has helped me so much recently, that three hours, four days a week feels God sent. Suddenly, it was like I could breathe again...and I didn't even realize I had been holding my breath.