To make a long and stressful story short, I am now a firm believer in “me” time. Yes, yes, I admit that for years I was a skeptic. I didn’t feel the need to take a “break” from my kids or felt the need to develop other skills besides mothering.
Short interjection here: I also don’t feel bad about this. I didn’t feel a need to develop other talents and skills besides mothering and homemaking because THOSE skills were what I needed to work on most at that time and they WERE fulfilling to me… all those years with only littles, I was developing my whole self during those years by developing the talents that would best help me at that time, which would be most fulfilling to me at that time, and they also happened to involve my kids.
But now that I am oh so much older *cough cough* and oh so much wiser *cough cough* (or more likely that I am just in a different phase of my personal development as a human being and mother and homeschool teacher) I have found I do have a very real need to develop myself in ways that do not directly involve my own children’s development.
I’m going to go out on a (very short) limb here and assume that every mom isn’t exactly just like me. Some mothers feel the need from the very beginning to have “other” time or “me” time where they do something apart from their children. This helps them feel whole and in turn strengthens them in their mothering and nurturing. I know some moms who are like that. They are awesome. Other moms, also not like me, maybe don’t feel that need for a very long time. My oldest was about 8 when it hit me (like a ton of bricks), but I can easily believe that other mothers can last until their kids all leave the nest before the need for more or for something else develops in them. I know some moms who are like that. They are also awesome.
And then there are others, like me, who are somewhere in between.
All of this is very good and very personal and very natural. But the problem comes when mom category A thinks that needing “me” time makes them a bad mom. Why can’t I feel fulfilled just being with my kids all the time like mom category B? And then maybe mom category B feels behind or left out of social circles and other developmental endeavors she sees her peers enjoying and feels she has had to give up everything to be a good mother to her children, but others apparently don’t, and it seems unfair. These could lead to bitter feelings and resentment aimed at multiple parties.
And then there is mom category C, which is my group, the-somewhere-in-the-middles, who make a transition somewhere in the middle of their children’s development, after which they think know everything on the subject and write blog posts as if they are some sort of authority on something they have only just begun to ponder and experience first hand despite the fact this phenomenon has probably been going on since the beginning of time.
(P.S. I don’t actually know what I am talking about, but I know my own experiences, and I do like to share them in case they are helpful for others like myself… and those not like myself, too.)
My experiences have taught me that I am now ready to fully embrace “me” time, which I actually just call “Teacher Development.” As a homeschool mom, or as any mom really, everything about you teaches your children something, for good or for bad. You are a teacher whether you like it or not. To be the best homeschool mom I can be I have decided to be a whole person, a well rounded person in the things I believe are important, to develop new talents and skills, and try new and self-fulfilling experiences that develop who I am and who I want to be.
(That sounds so lofty. Actually, I just go on hikes and read a lot of books! Ha!)
Yes, well, that is what I am trying to do.
Here are a couple of my personalized teacher development training series for this year, a.k.a some of my goals for “me” time in order to develop myself as a whole person and find self-fulfillment.
I even made a poster! Look, how semi-crafty of me! Yes, that IS glitter glue and those ARE pom poms!
- Read my scriptures and pray every day. This is just an ongoing habit that keeps me grounded to reality. Christ is my rock and my anchor. Despite the horrid whirlwinds of our time, I can stay peaceful, calm, and full of love for those who are even sometimes causing and perpetuating those whirlwinds. I know Christ and Heavenly Father care about me as a mother, but they also care about me deeply as a person and a child of God. So even though I do receive revelation on how to be a better mother, my relationship with my Heavenly Father is a very personal, one-on-one, definitely “me” time category thing. (Bonus: then I have a testimony and know the scriptures so I can better teach my children where to find peace also.)
- Go on 20 hikes this year. I seriously love being outside in the mountains or beside a lake or stream, or just in the woods, or by the sea shore (PNW style, I’m a western Washingtonian down to my hiking boots.) There is peace and serenity and wonder and majesty out in nature away from the crowds and the manmade noise. I like the physical exertion of hiking. I feel like that is cleansing. I like that I have time to just think to myself while working towards a goal that is difficult and then looking around after reaching the top (or whatever the end destination is) and feeling like I’ve accomplished something all by myself. I have absolutely no trendy or expensive hiking gear or gadgets. I haven’t been on a gazillion must-see hikes or anything. I just really like to do it. (Bonus: this is something I want to teach my kids about, so last year we started our AHAW program. As awesome as this was, it is also incredibly awesome to go hiking WITHOUT kids. So my husband and I go on a hike, just us two, once a month. That has been an incredible bonus just in itself.)
- Make 3 new friends. I’m not incredibly social by nature, but I’ve gotten fairly good at forcing myself to be. There are so many people out there who are lonely or hurting or tired who could really benefit from having a friend nearby. With that in mind, I try to find people who may have a need, and then I try to fill it. What actually ends up happening, almost 100% of the time, is that I benefit so much from knowing and associating with that person instead. I have learned so much and been uplifted and cared for by so many people. I go into a new friendship trying to be the giver, but I end up always being the receiver. So when you think about it, maybe that is a selfish goal. But one of these days I really will get to be the giver, as I always intend. I guess maybe that is my actual goal. To meet new people, form friendships, and be a giver.
- Sew 3 new projects. (This kind of makes me laugh.) I just really don’t know how to sew but I own 2 sewing machines, a bunch of old fabric, thread, and sewing doohickeys that I can’t even name or tell you what they do. That whole spatial intelligence thing is kind of foreign to me. I cannot picture a pattern all put together and I’m not good at following directions. BUT I do have a lot of resources in my neighborhood who want to help me succeed so I’ve got a place to go for help and support when I get frustrated. AND it is a skill that I think will benefit my life. So far I’ve made some bean bags!! Woohoo! (I am laughing so hard at myself right now!) Maybe we’ll chalk this one up to “weaknesses becoming strengths” or something like that. Sewing is my weakness. I don’t want to self stuff on Etsy or anything. I just want to make pajama pants at Christmas time and stuff.
Other than that, I have a goal to read a ton of J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S.Lewis this year. I’m taking a break from juvenile fiction in the hopes that I can develop past things juvenile. Charlotte Mason might call those YA books “twaddle.” I’m not sure if they really are “twaddle” because honestly I don’t exactly know the definition, but I want to read for enlightenment and less for mindless entertainment. So far this year I have read (I feel like I read a lot!) the two books mentioned in a previous blog post – Teaching from Rest and For the Children’s Sake, both of those obviously not Tolkien or Lewis, Nefarious Plot, The Children of Hurin, The Hobbit, and Tales from the Perilous Realm – which actually include 5 short stories – “Roverandum,” “Farmer Giles of Ham,” “The Adventures of Tom Bombadil,” “Smith of Wootton Major,” and “Leaf by Niggle.” My next two (also not Tolkein or Lewis) are Defying Hitler and In the Garden of Beasts, both of which come highly recommended and I figure will not only help in my own education, but give me some more readily available knowledge to draw from (instead of the education acquired in college thrown back into the deep recesses of my mind) as we start our history learning moving past WWI and gearing up for WWII. Another book not yet checked out, but next on the list is The Power of Now.
Just for fun I’m going to see if I can add a sidebar thingy with all my current and past reads. (Please recommend some goodies!)
I’m also finding that our morning symposium is filling an emptiness I didn’t realize I had. Although I am not alone, I get to just sit there and listen to soul moving classical music every day for about 20 minutes. This week we’re on the fourth movement of Beethoven’s 9th symphony. Try listening to that and not being uplifted!
And of course, I have my Relief Society group. We get together once a month. I have also just joined a homeschooling group where we have park days, field trips, and moms’ night outs. So far I’ve been to one, and that was refreshing and filled my bucket.
“Fill my bucket.” I never thought I would say that. But my bucket has been emptied and it is feeling really good to admit it. It’s not shameful to be empty sometimes, because it is a natural occurrence and I think just comes with the territory of being a teacher and mother (and sometimes especially a homeschool teaching mother).
But I will also readily admit if feels awful good to be on the road to filled up and whole again.