We were designed for community. We need each other. As moms, having a community of support to celebrate with and commiserate with is so important. We were not meant to do this job alone. No mom is an island.
But sometimes, maybe in the little years, when your world consists of meeting the needs of one or more tiny humans day in and day out, that island starts to sound pretty appealing.
My husband and I were married for four years with no babies in sight. No known reason. And then one day our world changed and we were given our precious daughter. A short 3-month “paper pregnancy” and I was finally a momma. A million prayers answered, wrapped and delivered in her 7-pound-12-ounce little self.
So I joined the moms group at my church. That early time was so exciting, full of so much change and growth. Every stage was brand new. And my community of moms was like gold. Where would I be without them?!
Fast forward through training and instruction and growing and discipline, a few health issues, an entire year (and counting…) of no sleep, and all that comes with raising kids, and what momma wouldn’t appreciate a little alone time?
It got me thinking…
We hear so much about self-care these days. I have to admit that I cringe when I hear it. Our role as moms is to care for others. Not to say that our entire identity is lost in others, but the nature of momming is to put others’ needs ahead of ourselves. We make sacrifices and serve our kids and our husbands and most of the time, it’s all good. So when the idea of self-care sort of took on this indulgent tone, I was immediately turned off by the idea. But like many other things, it is what you make of it. Could there be a version of self-care I hadn’t considered?
My husband recently had a work conference at a local hotel. My daughter and I tagged along for a change of scenery, thinking maybe some relaxing time at the lazy river would be fun. I was wrong.
[Now, a little background information on my daughter: she can’t swim. More specifically, she hasn’t figured out how not to breathe in massive amounts of water. Swim lessons are in our near future.]
As you may have imagined, there is nothing lazy or relaxing about a moving current with a can’t-swim-can’t-sit-still-year-old. It’s pretty much what nightmares are made of.
I left that hotel discouraged and longing for a different season. I had a need that wasn’t met but I couldn’t quite put my finger on it. The mild sun and beautiful property around us seemed to mock me, shining a spotlight on my disappointment. Dramatic, I know. When will I be able to relax in the lazy river? When will I be able to order room service and not have to worry if the food is safe for my Celiac kiddo? I felt like I was missing out on a normal experience because of the season I’m in. Missing out? How can that be? I have everything I ever wanted. I had begged God for this child. I wouldn’t trade her for all the leisure in the world. But still, I could feel these limitations squeezing me.
Then I realized what I’m really craving is SOLITUDE. It may sound selfish, but solitude can be a form of self-care. And not the cringe-worthy kind. Solitude is more than a luxury disguised as self-care. Just as we were designed to rely on community to support us through the new stages, when the new wears off and the daily grind and the needs pressing against us have worn us raw, we need solitude to get recharged. It wasn’t about a relaxing day by the pool. I needed quiet. I needed time alone. Even Jesus needed alone time. He would often get away by himself to think and pray. Without the crowds pressing in on Him. Who am I to think I can manage through life without it?
I know different personalities recharge in different ways, but solitude is especially important for an introvert like me. The trouble is I don’t often recognize it because I’m a bit of a hybrid: I don’t like to be left out, but often feel like I don’t fit in. I thrive in one-on-one relationships as well as alone time. I have to walk a delicate balance between FOMO and JOMO. In this season, JOMO is calling and that island is sounding pretty good right now.
What is your favorite way to recharge? How often do you need a little solitude?