Friends, I'm writing this as I lie in the king size bed in my hotel room. All alone. You couldn't see, but I just took a good 60 seconds after writing those first two sentences to close my eyes and breathe. I checked in my room on Thursday for my stay in Greenville for the homeschool convention. As a mother that has chosen to homeschool my children, I have chosen to give up myself as a person for about 90-95% of the time. I am an amalgam of mom, teacher, home administrator (that's a fancy word for the person that cleans the bathrooms and generally keeps the house from decaying beyond repair), chauffer, momager, wife, friend, church volunteer, tutor...I could keep going but I think I've made my point.
Before I go any further, let me give the obvious "I love my kids and the life we've chosen." But people. This life is exhausting on every level. It's physically demanding although less so since my kids are older. Now that I'm not picking up a kid all the time, I've noticed a real lack of definition in my biceps. As for mental and emotional exhaustion, well, those two are my good buddies that stick with me through thick and thin. It's exhausting to have people. Real, actual human people are depending on me for their existence. How in the world did God think this was a good idea?! Has He even seen me?! I'm a mess of a person. I'm judgy though I fight it. I haven't mopped my floor in months. MONTHS. There's a spot of ice cream on the floor. It's been their for like a week. I just keep ignoring it, hoping the child that spilled the spot will clean it. They won't.
And now. I'm at this homeschool conference, and I'm all alone. It is beautiful and wonderful and much too short of a time. For a brief moment, I get to be reminded of who I am as a person. I'm at least physically detached from all the people that usually depend on me. My brain is not divided for once between competing responsibilities, kids, and a husband. I can focus.
I wish every husband understood how important it is to give their wives a break. My home is my office. Can these husbands imagine if they had to live where they work? Moms live where they work. And family vacation is no vacation for parents. It's more work. It's work in a new location. Dads, husbands. You have got to give your wife a break. It is incumbent upon you, your responsibility, to make sure you are helping her have some time to herself to be an individual. These kids are not going to be around forever. Some might say that I've just given a strong reason for moms to not take some time for herself, but I would say it makes it even more important. We've all seen the mom that has no idea what to do with herself once her children leave the nest. I daresay we've all seen a marriage fall apart when the youngest kid goes to college because the couple didn't take the time to maintain the marriage. You men must give her the space to be who God made her to be beyond a mother and wife. Please don't guilt her for going off by herself for an hour. Don't call her and ask when she's coming back. Better yet, take the kids and let her be at home alone. Moms are never home alone. Like never, ever. Give her a moment to breathe. Give her a moment to remember who she is instead of what she does.
My husband, who is super cool, figured out that I'm a better person when I get to pursue my own interests...or at least go buy a coffee by myself. He doesn't call me when I'm gone. He'll text some, but not with questions. It took us awhile to get here. Okay, it took me telling him that it feels like pressure to "get back to work" when he would call and ask when I'm coming home after I've barely left. Apparently, he thought it was the loving thing to do. He thought he was letting me know how important I am to him and the family. It was a basic communication error. Glad we got that one worked out because the calls were super annoying. =)
Part II (Sunday night)
And now. What are my takeaways from a few days of sitting in big, cold rooms listening to people that at least appear to have it together? Here, I'll bullet point it for you.
- Arts are not electives. God has made us to create and enjoy beauty.
- Musicals are the American opera. (I don't know if High School Musical counts though)
- If rest is the goal, the middle, then the two extremes we can slide to are anxiety or negligence.
- Which extreme do I tend to slide to? What are some red flags that signal I'm sliding towards an extreme?
- Avoid comparison
- Avoid the drudgery- take a break and learn how to enjoy your children again
- Just Because You Can Day- take a break and do something fun and completely unrelated to school to build relationships and your kids know that you actually like being around them.
- Tiny tweaks in our day can make a huge impact. Instead of trying to overhaul my school plan, look for small tweaks that don't add to my work, but do add to our day. For example, making sure you start the day with "Good morning" instead of "Go brush your teeth"
- "Hope is being cheerful, even if you ought not to be." I just liked this quote. =)
- Girl drama is girls learning how they fit in the world and in relationships.
- Men's brains basically quit when they're bored and move into basic survival mode. (I took pictures of the brain scans. Seriously. Men aren't kidding when they say they can sit and literally think of nothing.)
And now, what are my takeaways from being independent for a few days? Here's another bullet list!
- Having a room all to yourself is blissful. I cannot stress this enough. If you can afford to get a room to yourself, GET A ROOM TO YOURSELF.
- I didn't feel like my head completely cleared out of "Mom Mode" until Friday night which is unfortunate since I was back in "Mom Mode" on Saturday. Next time, I want 3 nights.
- Target. Y'all. I'm usually very focused in Target. I go in, get what I need, and get out. But without kids or the haze of motherhood in my brain, there were entire sections of the store I could look through that I usually avoid. At one point, I just stood and looked at candles for 5 minutes because I could.
- I ate fettuccine alfredo for dinner two nights in a row. I don't feel bad about it at all. It was delicious and wonderful. I made happy sighs throughout the meal. I need to schedule more fettuccine alfredo in my life so I don't binge on it when I get the opportunity.
- Even being a veteran homeschooler with a solid curriculum plan for next year, I still wanted to buy half the stuff in the vendor hall. Those books are beautiful and tempting. I was lusting over a curriculum guide. LUSTING. I'm not exaggerating. I wanted that book so bad. Like, time slowed down. It was just me and that book in the room. I wanted to take it home and make my kids do all the work in it. Get behind me, Satanintheformofacurriculumguide!
And that's about it. This post might seem a little disjointed since I wrote bits and pieces over the course of a couple of days. Sorry about that. I had a lot of info to process. If you want to talk with me about the speakers I listened to or look at the books I actually did buy, I'd love to grab coffee with you!