There is a movement afoot to reclaim the joy that comes in serving others – especially as mothers.One of the most notable books on the subject that I have read is Passionate Housewives Desperate for God by Jennie Chancey and Stacy McDonald.
They warn us women and mothers against the idea of self centered “me-ology” and remind us of the joy found in service to our families. They tell us that when we constantly see our families or children as the obstacles in our path to happiness, freedom or me-time, we only make ourselves unhappier. If a mom “escapes” from her family and goes out for a pedicure she is only running away from the issue instead of working on herself and developing her patience and love.
From the book…”After all when she returns home from her ‘break’- nothing has changed. The dishes are still in the sink, dinner still needs to be made, little Johnny is still having a hard day. Hence she only grows more frustrated and desperate for more “me time.” This is a never ending cycle which pits a mother against her own family.
Please understand there is nothing intrinsically wrong with [spas, massages, pedicures], as long as we understand that we don’t need them to be content or healthy and that we aren’t somehow deprived if we don’t get them. There are many ways we can relax and enjoy ourselves when God gives us opportunity, but to feverishly pursue solace in worldly leisure and personal pleasure is to run to an empty comforter (p. 15).
This cultural obsession with me-time is clearly demonstrated in this story of a woman who actually decided after a working trip away from her family that she no longer wanted to be a mother at all and she abandoned her two young boys ages 5 and 3.The Today Show interviewed her and actually raised the question if we as a society are redefining motherhood?!
The scary thing to me is how innocently me-ology slips into our minds. At first it was about moms choosing to work, then it was about moms needing to work, now it’s about making sure mothers are taking time for them selves, indulging themselves, not ‘chaining’ themselves to their families. So mom works 9-5, goes to the gym, has dad put the children to bed so she can have a bath, then drops them off at grandma’s the next day so she can have pedicure and ‘just have her space.’
And what does her family have? An absent mother pursuing a the beast of me-ology which is never satisfied!”
As Stacey and Jennie point out in the quote above – it’s not about going out by yourself every now and again, it’s about feeling like you need to escape your family and your life.
It seems that every time I meet someone new, we get to talking and they become very concerned about my being a stay-at-home, homeschooling mother. They lecture me or at least drop huge hints that I need to be taking more time for myself. That I need to make sure I have a break.
I’ve been there, I’ve done that. It only made things worse. Sometimes life doesn’t give you a break. You can stand around waiting for one, growing more unhappy by the second or you can choose to be happy with what you have.
Now don’t get me wrong, I love to go to the Thrift Shop by myself every once in a while but I know I don’t need it and on those days when everything is going wrong – the dishes are piling up and the kids are crying – I don’t run away. I sing through the dishes and I wipe up the tears – even my own!
And that night when I slip into bed I smile and praise God for all He did for me that day and for all the blessings He gave us – food to eat, a warm dry bed, healthy children, good music, etc.
This morning I came up against this theme again. A lady praised me for all the hard work stay-at-home moms do but essentially summed her comments up with the attitude that I was “overdoing” it by staying at home and homeschooling and that I needn’t be a martyr, everyone needs time for themselves.
Ugh…it irks me. So I decided to come up with a motto. When I was planning my first homebirth I was barraged by “what ifs” concerning the health of my baby. I borrowed Hygeia Halfmoon’s motto of, “Your fear is not part of my reality.”
Now I need a “happy to be at home, happy to find joy in being with my children motto.”
Let’s borrow a bit from Stacey and Jennie here:
I’m happier when I find joy and relaxation in everyday life instead of pursuing solace in worldly pleasures.
Feel free to use the motto and please tell us about it if you do!