Wednesday, March 21, 2007

fill'er up

Funny stories, practical tips, tearful moments—they’re all a part of my annual pilgrimage to the Hearts at Home conference in Bloomington. Sitting in a crowd of four thousand moms, laughing over the commonality of our day-to-day experiences with laundry and kids and cooking fills me up and affirms the importance of my role as Mom.

On Saturday, Jill Savage talked about the importance of filling up our Mom tanks. After all, we give and give to everyone, and while it sounds noble to just ignore our own needs, it’s not wise to do this on a regular basis. And the truth is, nobody is going to knock on the door and say, “Hey! Let me give you a hand!” (Well, except sometimes my dear Mother-in-law does—bless her.) But in general, nobody will notice that we’re running on empty. We need to pay attention to our own physical, emotional, and spiritual needs, and find ways to fill up periodically. Sometimes it’s as simple as a conversation with our spouse, “Can you put the kids to bed tonight? I need to take a bubble bath and curl up with a book.” Sometimes, it’s a phone call to a friend to organize a babysitting swap. Sometimes, we need to leave dirty dishes in the sink, let the laundry pile up, and just sit at the feet of Jesus.

I’m getting better at negotiating what I need. I can look at my calendar, see when my husband will be away, and efficiently outline my plan for survival. Sometimes, I’ll invite another “single” Mom and her kids over for dinner. (Even if it’s just frozen pizza, having another adult to talk to eases the stress and monotony of the day.) Sometimes, I’ll ask Grandma to take baby b. for an afternoon while the noisy boys are at school. Sometimes, I’ll leave the housework and take a nap. I used to feel guilty every time I did anything for myself. After all, I’m a Mother. I’m supposed to do it all, and then some. Talk about running on empty—I had two babies, was chronically sleep deprived, and my husband traveled constantly for business. Nothing says “pay attention to me” like a crisis, and I had a few of them before I realized I couldn’t indefinitely ignore my own needs and still care for my family.

I’ve been thinking about this concept of “filling up” in terms of the Sabbath, too. This past Sunday my husband and I attempted to carve out more time for rest. We talked about what fills our tanks—both individually and as a family. I’m sure we won’t do it perfectly, but we’re making a deliberate attempt to set Sunday apart from the rest of the week and find creative ways to refuel and connect.

How about you? What fills you up?


spaghettipie said...

Great thoughts. It kind of reminds me of LL's post on polyculture. I think we often hear that our job as a mom is to sacrifice ourselves totally for our kids and that our job as a wife is to sacrifice ourselves totally for our husbands...and while our job does entail sacrifice, we can neglect caring for ourselves and our souls either - or else what is left to give our family? My mom's group, coffee with friends and -believe it or not - blogging are fillers for me.

On a different, but related note, I'm reading a book called Tender Mercies for a Mother's Soul by Angela Thomas with my mom's group. She paints a beautiful illustration of the need to let Jesus fill us up to overflowing...and that overflowing that spills out is what should be pouring into the lives of our loved ones. If we just pour out ourselves, then we eventually end up empty.

23 degrees said...

LM, I agree, there are more important things than housework. I would rather have a mom that lets me make robots out of diaper boxes than a mom that has a tidy house.

Moms need to recreate or re-create so they can do more than survive. What gives you great joy?

Everyone is happy when mom is happy.

Am also challenged by the Sabbath dialogue.

Llama Momma said...

SP -- "Tender Mercies for a Mother's Soul" is one of my all time favorite Mom books.

23 -- What fills ME up? Quite a few things: Time alone. Writing. A heart-to-heart talk with a friend. Connecting with people. Coffee shops. Books. Blogs. And, this one is interesting to even me, fun moments with my children. Leaving housework and heading to the zoo on a sunny day! (And thank you for your robot box comment -- I needed that one today. Couch cushion forts and craft supplies EVERYWHERE seem to be the theme of this week...)

And on the sabbath stuff: I didn't think my husband would be remotely interested in trying this, but it's been a great thing for us to talk about and plan for. Seriously. We're not approaching it in a legalistic way at all, but in a common sense "we all need rest" kind of way. And as a bonus, we're learning about each other and our children. I'm already looking forward to next Sunday.Talk to Mrs. 23 and your kids -- what feels restful to them? What fills them up?

Maria Dodson said...

Hi, LM!! Great post. I've been challenged in this area, as well. Being relatively new (and hopefully a short-timer) in Seattle, I haven't found alot of folks that I feel good about giving me practical support - i know of people who are willing but i'm not always willing to let them. :( I usually get some "mommy time" on the weekend that recharges my battery. I love to go out to eat by myself and just read a book. I also love to get outside and walk - especially with my hubby and son.

Craver Vii said...

Dr. Gary Chapman’s The Five Love Languages book talks about filling someone’s emotional love tank with the kind of affection that they would receive the best. This is a very useful and practical book. It’s a must-read.

Llama Momma said...

Maria -- MOPS is your friend, if there's one in your area. It's a great place to connect with other moms. I've been in that place (new and with babies). My advice? Find one or two other moms and reach out to them. Invite them over. Offer to take their kids and give them a break. They will most likely return the favor. And then, call and ask -- can you take my kids? This is what really breaks the ice with other moms -- one of us asking for help. Nobody wants to be the first one, but somebody has to. And then, when your friend has the flu, you're at the top of their list of people to call.

Craver - I've heard of that book. I may have even read it way back when. I can't for the life of me remember my own "love language," but I'm pretty sure it has something to do with chocolate donuts.

We've had a doozie of a day. It really deserves a blog post of it's own. Let's just say I've eaten my points for the rest of the week in little glazed donut holes!! Ugh....