LIVING WELL / MOTHERHOOD

Letting go of the plough

letting go of the plough

I admit, that until recently, I was the kind of person who really disliked this trend of "me time". I sort of rolled my eyes and thought, "Give me a break. You are a mother. This is what you do. There is no break. No vacation. No me time."

Like many other (and much less important) things in my life, my approach to motherhood was this: Put your hand to the plough, keep your head down, get the job done.

Yes, you need breaks. Yes, you have your "moments". Yes, you'll rest sometimes. But for the most part "me" has been permanently replaced by the general "we". 

It feels like a very honorable stance. To be such a sold-out servant of your family, your husband, your children, your home. 

But with each new addition to this growing family of mine, I begin to understand this notion of needing time. The need to rest. There has to be a moment where we peel our cramped fingers from those wooden plough handles, stand up straight and stretch our backs, take our eyes off the ground and look up and feel the warmth of the sun on our face. 

This past Fall I had the privilege of taking part in one of Lisa Byrne's classes called Designed for Wellness. Lisa and I had actually spoken on the phone together before I ever thought of signing up for her class. When I was in the throes of my so-far undiagnosed post-partum depression after Birdy's birth, I sought out Lisa's wisdom and counsel as a possible solution to this strange funk I found myself unable to climb out of.

But several months later when our paths crossed again, and I signed up for her class I had different intentions. I took her class this Fall with the plan to lose some weight, learn about healthier ways to cook for my family and start making some healthy changes for everyone.

But what I walked away with from her class was completely differenet than what I set out to learn. While Lisa's class offered insight and information about all the things I hoped, what I didn't realize was how the class would really encourage and push me to look deeper into my own attitudes and perspectives. While there would be outward changes as a result of her class, most of the work was happening internally on my heart and mind. My eyes would be opened to some areas of my life that needed some real attention. 

One of those areas, brings me back to my thoughts above. While being the mother of four children (or three! or two! or one!) forces one to need a break every now and then (understatement), I learned as part of working through Lisa's course, that the time I was giving myself and marking off in my mind as "me time", as my momentary break from the duties of motherhood, was actually pretty worthless. 

I'd find myself sitting in front of the computer answering emails and sipping on a cup of tea, thinking "Yes. This is my break. This is time I have carved out and earned. This is going to refresh me." But later, when I put my mothering cap back on, I felt no different. There was no refreshment. I felt no more rested or more prepared to face the rest of the day. 

I think I walked away from Lisa's class learning a lot more about taking care of myself. And while I still battle the thought that it is so silly for me to even worry about how I'm caring for myself, I'm learning that it is the time I spend for myself that is what allows me to be a better mother, wife, person. 

I know this notion is really probably nothing new for many of you. But it was a very eye-opening moment for me. I've since begun to discover what things refill my spirit and refresh me. (FYI: It's not sipping tea and working my way through my inbox.) Some of the things are taking care of my outward self–a haircut regularly, or a long, luxurious hot shower after everyone is asleep and taking time afterwards to paint my nails or put on the good lotion. Asking my husband for a night out of the house and not feeling guilty for needing to get away for a few hours. I'm not high-maintenance. It doesn't take much. But it does take something. And definitely more than what I was doing before. 

These ideas are all kind of wrapped up in one of those New Year's Resolutions floating around in my head. To remember to tend to myself now and then. And to continue to discover what things truly refresh. And I hope you'll be encouraged to take a few moments to discover and invest in the things that refresh you as well.

**I promise I'm not working for Lisa… 🙂 But through this course I feel like we've become good friends and she's someone I can count on for sage advice and wisdom. She has a new Designed For Wellness class beginning on January 16th. And once you join a session of her classes, you become a lifetime member of the site and are welcome to join in any other session thereafter. I whole-heartedly encourage you to consider it…**

letting go of the plough

I admit, that until recently, I was the kind of person who really disliked this trend of "me time". I sort of rolled my eyes and thought, "Give me a break. You are a mother. This is what you do. There is no break. No vacation. No me time."

Like many other (and much less important) things in my life, my approach to motherhood was this: Put your hand to the plough, keep your head down, get the job done.

Yes, you need breaks. Yes, you have your "moments". Yes, you'll rest sometimes. But for the most part "me" has been permanently replaced by the general "we". 

It feels like a very honorable stance. To be such a sold-out servant of your family, your husband, your children, your home. 

But with each new addition to this growing family of mine, I begin to understand this notion of needing time. The need to rest. There has to be a moment where we peel our cramped fingers from those wooden plough handles, stand up straight and stretch our backs, take our eyes off the ground and look up and feel the warmth of the sun on our face. 

This past Fall I had the privilege of taking part in one of Lisa Byrne's classes called Designed for Wellness. Lisa and I had actually spoken on the phone together before I ever thought of signing up for her class. When I was in the throes of my so-far undiagnosed post-partum depression after Birdy's birth, I sought out Lisa's wisdom and counsel as a possible solution to this strange funk I found myself unable to climb out of.

But several months later when our paths crossed again, and I signed up for her class I had different intentions. I took her class this Fall with the plan to lose some weight, learn about healthier ways to cook for my family and start making some healthy changes for everyone.

But what I walked away with from her class was completely differenet than what I set out to learn. While Lisa's class offered insight and information about all the things I hoped, what I didn't realize was how the class would really encourage and push me to look deeper into my own attitudes and perspectives. While there would be outward changes as a result of her class, most of the work was happening internally on my heart and mind. My eyes would be opened to some areas of my life that needed some real attention. 

One of those areas, brings me back to my thoughts above. While being the mother of four children (or three! or two! or one!) forces one to need a break every now and then (understatement), I learned as part of working through Lisa's course, that the time I was giving myself and marking off in my mind as "me time", as my momentary break from the duties of motherhood, was actually pretty worthless. 

I'd find myself sitting in front of the computer answering emails and sipping on a cup of tea, thinking "Yes. This is my break. This is time I have carved out and earned. This is going to refresh me." But later, when I put my mothering cap back on, I felt no different. There was no refreshment. I felt no more rested or more prepared to face the rest of the day. 

I think I walked away from Lisa's class learning a lot more about taking care of myself. And while I still battle the thought that it is so silly for me to even worry about how I'm caring for myself, I'm learning that it is the time I spend for myself that is what allows me to be a better mother, wife, person. 

I know this notion is really probably nothing new for many of you. But it was a very eye-opening moment for me. I've since begun to discover what things refill my spirit and refresh me. (FYI: It's not sipping tea and working my way through my inbox.) Some of the things are taking care of my outward self–a haircut regularly, or a long, luxurious hot shower after everyone is asleep and taking time afterwards to paint my nails or put on the good lotion. Asking my husband for a night out of the house and not feeling guilty for needing to get away for a few hours. I'm not high-maintenance. It doesn't take much. But it does take something. And definitely more than what I was doing before. 

These ideas are all kind of wrapped up in one of those New Year's Resolutions floating around in my head. To remember to tend to myself now and then. And to continue to discover what things truly refresh. And I hope you'll be encouraged to take a few moments to discover and invest in the things that refresh you as well.

**I promise I'm not working for Lisa… 🙂 But through this course I feel like we've become good friends and she's someone I can count on for sage advice and wisdom. She has a new Designed For Wellness class beginning on January 16th. And once you join a session of her classes, you become a lifetime member of the site and are welcome to join in any other session thereafter. I whole-heartedly encourage you to consider it…**

23 comments on “Letting go of the plough”

  1. I think it is really important for our kids to learn that they are not an extension of us, that we can be individual people and that sometimes they have to do without us. Otherwise we do them a dis service- how else do they learn to grow. My husband always says any time i have ever been away from all my family on my own, how rejuvenated i am when i come back. And yet,I have been a mother for over 17 years, and a mother of 4 for over 11 years and i’ve only ever gotten away from my family on my own for a night or more (not including hospital stays) maybe 3 times in all those years. maybe another 4 times with just my husband and me. But my favourite times are by myself….being able to redefine who I am and come back to my family strengthened, confident and feeling ready to tackle anything. As a mother and a wife (and all the other jobs that entails), I think it is so easy to start to blur around the edges. To lose ourselves a little as we work so hard to support those around us.

  2. I love going away, although when mine were younger I often thought it was harder to come back! I listened to a simplemom podcast with Lisa, and it was great. She really does help you define why you need time and how you can get it. She also makes it clear to do things that REALLY rejuvenate you – i.e. not pinterest – and to carve out a little time each day. She all about health and wellness and I love her attitude – and to be honest, her voice – so soothing!

  3. I’m right there with you Molly, as a mama of soon to be 4 kiddies, I was never one to take time just for me, never thought I needed it. As the birth of this one draws near and we make our way through our second year of homeschooling I am finding it increasingly more important to take time for me. At the coffee shop, or the bookstore, or perhaps the yoga studio. Or just taking 10 minutes to sit quietly on my bed on a saturday afternoon. I feel so much better,

  4. I’ve struggled with this too, but taking time for yourself so you are the best YOU you can be is actually better for our families than just trudging along, day after day. Hope you find some good bits of rest and renewal!

  5. I think the more children, animals, comittments we have as a mother the further we push ourselves down the list. We set the example and everyone else follows suit. It’s hard to put yourself top of the list sometimes butit is such an important lesson to our children. Our girls needto grow with self worth and boys need to know to respect the needs of the ladies in their life. Even though we know that it’s still hard to actually be self centred if only for a few hours. Lovely post Molly.

  6. I also live in MD, near Annapolis, and love reading your blog. This post brought tears to my eyes and was timed at just the precise moment I needed it. I too have trouble taking time for myself and have been struggling with this for the past few weeks. I work full time, have a 10 month old daughter and my husband travels out of the country 50% of the time. I guess being raised by a single parent of 2 children instilled in me an unshakable work ethic. The guilt of taking a few hours for myself can sometimes be crushing. On a whim and a leap of faith I just mailed in my deposit for Squam at the Sea and even though it is not until October I already feel a weight being lifted. Thank you for sharing and letting me know I am not in this alone.

  7. My children are now grown and perfectly fine as far as I know, so my inattention to myself had no obvious ill effects, BUT things could have been better for all of us, had I known that I was ignoring myself. Head down, getting it done – that was me. I was proud that I could do it all. I would have loved help but there was none so pride was the alternative. I went through an untreated, unrecognized depression where I was very quick to anger, very exacting of myself and others and probably just a misery to be around. I didn’t even know it was happening at the time but looking back, it slowly came into focus. I’m so sad I inflicted my miserable self on my wonderful girls. I can truthfully say that I always did my best but that best could have been better had I looked a bit harder at myself from a bit of distance. I think me-time gives you that distance. Yay for you, realizing all this while you can still change their childhood experience.

  8. hi you.you know, i think you are doing the right thing as hard as it may be. for me, the summer of 2010, when i was at my lowest low, i had ZERO time to myself. and when the girls went back to school and i could take a few minutes here and there to recharge, it made the biggest difference. i’m not saying it was easy – i always have a gazillion things to do, most of which are to benefit someone else (the school, the kids, the husband, the neighbor, etc.). i realize that i have to be top of the pyramid sometimes because if i don’t get a chance to rest and rejuvenate myself, i burn out and everything goes down with me.keep it up, molly. xo.

  9. I just made an appointment for a haircut. For some reason I thought it was some badge of honor that I haven’t done that since March of last year. Really? Just silliness – I should be able to look after myself as well as I look after my little guys.

  10. This post is such an inspiration because it’s something we all need to tell ourselves sometimes. You seem like such a strong woman and very attuned to what you and your family need. Thanks for all you share.

  11. I try to tell myself the time I spend nursing my baby while my older babe is napping is my break…maybe I need to rethink this! Thanks for sharing.

  12. Molly,I love this post. Beautiful words and picture.I wonder if being a do-it- all- mom is a byproduct of our puritan heritage in this country? Other women in different parts of the world have no problem having help come into the home or reaching out to other women to share in the responsibilities of child rearing.As my four sons have gotten older, I’ve learned to take better care of myself and try to give myself time every day to do so. I also homeschool my kids and often feel stretched thin with all the demands placed on my shoulders. However, the more my boys know how to take care of their own needs, the better they’ll be able to handle those needs as adults.Thank you for your thoughts. This type of support is powerful, Molly. It really is.

  13. Beautiful post. This is something I struggle with in waves – forgetting and then remembering over and over. Thank you. Your words have inspired me all over again.

  14. I love this post. I realized some similar things this year and have made some steps. One of the things I actually “gave up” was being online during the waking hours of my kids. It was sucking my time away but not in a good, restful way. It was causing all sorts of trouble. Now I am working out every morning (a wonderful “me” activity!) before my kids get up and taking a long shower alone each night. I feel like a new person.

  15. So thought-provoking. As an at-home mother of one who home-schooled last year, the issue of ‘me’ time was something I struggled with. Like you, I’d find myself doing what effectively were online chores during a ‘break’ and feeling, if anything, more stressed. An early morning run on a weekday, occasional solo trips to see exhibitions or sit in a cafe have been my saviours. But, principally, it’s taking time away from the home and those things that always have to be done that saves my sanity! Hope you continue to carve out guilt-free space for yourself 🙂

  16. Hi Molly … this post has been resonating with me since reading it a couple days ago. You’re so right about how time online is, quite often, not truly refreshing or restorative. I find that when I do have a free minute I rush to the computer or pick up my phone, but it’s a kind of shadow comfort — more like grabbing a Snickers than, say, a big bowl of soup and a mug of tea. I’ve pondered scheduling time for the somewhat mindless computer time — and then working on the discipline to spend the rest of my time (both mama time and me time) unplugged.

  17. So true what you said about answering emails with a cup of tea not being the refreshment we need. (Although I will say reading your blog is always a lovely gift.) I had a rare opportunity to take a train ride alone this week and it was beautiful. Doing nothing but thinking, praying and looking out the window. Need more of that – time to be truly quiet, alone. Beautiful post.

  18. This post was perfectly-timed for me. I was considering a weekend trip to San Fran for a Girls’ Weekend in Feb but was so torn. I was able to purchase the ticket with less guilt; now I have to batten my hatches for an onslaught of leaving-the-children-even-one-who’s-nursing-emotions when the day actually comes. I have many lessons to learn from experienced mothers; thanks for sharing your words.

  19. I think I need to print this off and tape it up to multiple surfaces of my house. I need to learn to let go an give myself a break. Thanks Molly for reminding me.

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