Dear husband and the girls are off to Jakarta for a week while I, with my ever growing belly, am staying behind. As I kissed them and waved goodbye from behind the departure glass door, I thought to myself, “I am officially on leave! (Hooray!)”
I love my family, I love having my “me time” too.
We all need a little time off once in a while. It is healthy, it is necessary. As a young mom with young children to care for, things can get overwhelming, and very fast. So fast that I don’t get to pause and “figure out where I am now.” There is always the next thing to do: toys to pick up, meals to cook, dishes to wash, school-work to guide, playground trip to make, books to read to, and on the list goes. It’s no wonder that many mothers reported they started having difficulty falling asleep after becoming mothers. We just don’t have the time to think our own thinking throughout the busy day, and then and only then, when everyone else is asleep, our ticking brains keep us awake. So yes, having a break where we can rest and rejuvenate, think and reorient, is important.
Having said that, I would readily admit that often I misplace my need for “me time” in the similar way we may misplace our need for food and recreation. We know the axiom “Man eats to live, not lives to eat,” yet how often we behave as if we live the latter. And in this sense, I think, I need to guard myself. Because it is scarily easy to look at the kids and think,
“It is their fault I am so tired and undone!” or
“I used to be so free and fruitful, but now they take and take and take from me I have nothing left for anything else!” or
“These people rob me off my real identity — my hobby, my career, my ‘thingy.’ I can’t wait for the day I am finally myself again!”
It is scarily easy to let resentment sip in. It is scarily easy to look forward to “me time” as the time I can find and be myself again, uncontaminated by and away from these “little nuisances.”
Yet, is the real me to be found somewhere out there? Have I lost it in the trenches of motherhood?
To the mothers struggling with and searching for the same thing, I want to share some words of wisdom from Rachel Jankovic. She wrote in her book (at which time of publication she had five kids under five):
“…The world has a very muddled perception of “self.” They think and tell us to think that we are all little separate entities who might need to go off somewhere to get to know “ourselves,” or that a mother needs to get back to her corporate job to be herself again. Marriages break up because people don’t know who they are anymore. They need to find themselves.
But the Christian view of self is very different, and you need to make sure that it is the one you have. We are like characters in a story. Our essential self is not back in the intro, waiting to be rediscovered. Who you are is where you are. When you are married, your essential self is married. As the story grows, so does your character. Your children change you into a different person. If you suddenly panic because it all happened so fast and now you don’t recognize yourself, what you need is not time alone. What you need is your people. Look out-look at the people who made you what you are—your husband and your children…if you want to know yourself, concentrate on them.
Those women who try to find themselves by stripping away the “others” will find that they are a very broken thing. This will lead them to resent the people who they think made them that way. She may say, “I used to be so energetic, but all these people take, take, take from me and now I have no time to just be me!” And the world gathers around and comforts her and says she needs some time to follow her dreams.
But the Christian woman needs to see, “I used to be so boring! Now my character has some depth, some people to love, some hardships to bear. Now I have some materials to work with.” A Christian’s woman view is always forward and never back….As married Christian women, our identity is in our husbands. We are their helpmeets. Our calling is people-oriented. It follows that you cannot know what your calling is until you know who your calling is. Until you are married, you are not tied to a specific person. Marriage reorients you entirely. Children do even more. Then it is your calling to help your husband by raising these little people. People, people everywhere and no time for yourself. But remember that this is your calling. It belongs to you. They belong to you.
If you want some quality “me time,” make a date with your husband. Do something special with your children. These people are you. Your identity is supposed to be intertwined—that is the way God wrote the story, and it is the way He intends us to read it.”
– Loving the Little Years, pp. 60-62.
“Me time” is important, but not in the sense that I need it to rediscover my true self. The real me is right here, she is a mother to two lovely little girls and a baby boy due in May, a wife to a great husband, she is a daughter, she is a friend, she is a part of her church community, she is someone to somebody, she is a sinner saved by God. She is blessed and called to bless others with her life. And she is given “me time”s as a means to rest, rejuvenate and reflect in order to serve others more effectively.
Knowing this, I can look forward to “me time” eagerly, enjoy it thankfully, and go back to serving joyfully.