Part 1 in case you missed it
I’ve read through the book of Galations more times than I can count and glossed over the verse “Love your neighbor as yourself” without a second thought, but only because it’s such a black and white commandment. Love those around you, be a cheerful giver, and – whenever possible – find ways to help others with their needs. It all fits under that verse, and it’s something that I really do try to live by.
That being said, I read that verse the other day during my morning devotions, and I froze as if I had never read those words before. Wait, what? Love my neighbor as myself?!?
I’m just sayin’, if I loved my neighbors and friends the way I too often love and care for myself, they wouldn’t like me very much…
“Oh I’m sorry to hear about your surgery! Here’s a few spoonfuls of leftover macaroni and cheese for you to eat for dinner. And since I love you, I’ve also included a half-eaten hotdog and a strawberry. Enjoy!”
I’d never treat anyone like that! Well, anyone except for myself.
Is anyone else out there practically living off of whatever their kids didn’t eat for lunch? And surviving on such little sleep and personal time that you probably shouldn’t be functioning? Or how about putting so much effort into your family’s appearance on Sunday morning that you freeze in the church parking lot and look down, just to make sure that you’re wearing pants?
I always push forward with my half-empty tank of gas, because – well – I’m a mom. So I’ve got this. I’m good! I’m SO ridiculously blessed by this beautiful family that how dare I ask for anything else? How dare I complain? Ever?!?
I’ve bought into the lie that I need to be all things…for all people…at all times.
Because somewhere along the way, we’ve tried to place moms on a pedestal dangerously close to a position that only God can hold. God is the One who is all things for all people. God is the only One who can provide, protect, comfort, nourish, and love without ever needing anything in return.
Love your neighbor as yourself… Can we even do that if we’ve let our tanks run empty? Can you pour from an empty cup?
I was not only created to desperately need Him to get through each day; but to also need nourishment and rest. And He also created me with individual talents and passions that fill my heart with so much happiness when I get to take part in them. That didn’t change just because I’m now a mommy. In fact, I need it all the more!
As a mom, it’s not selfish to take care of yourself. It’s critical (especially when you’re in the busy phase of raising little ones who need you for absolutely everything)! And it’s also not selfish to do things that make you happy. You know the saying, “When mama ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy?” Well guess what? A happy mom is contagious too!
If only we saw caring for ourselves as a part of caring for our children!
As a mom, the scales will always be tipped unevenly, as my family will come first every time. But I’m doing better, because I desperately needed to.
At least once every few months, I try to get out without children and invest in my own personal friendships over a cup of coffee. Laughter is SO important when you’re a mom. As is being able to share your heart with someone who will understand, encourage, and pray with you.
I’ve started to plan out my lunches (sometimes prepping them ahead of time), so that I have quick and easy – but also healthy and tasty – options throughout the week. Shoveling spoonfuls of my children’s leftovers into my mouth doesn’t count as a meal anymore!
Some days, I apply a touch of eye-liner… just because I want to feel put together and not because I have anywhere fancy to go.
I love photography and so – for me – taking five minutes to snap a picture and practice using my camera has been a creative outlet that I do just for myself. It makes my heart feel like it’s smiling! 🙂
I even just recently stepped into a gym for the first time in 9 years, and it…felt… great!! It’s amazing how movement and exercise can really clear one’s head.
As for sleep… I’m still not getting nearly enough. 😉 But I stick a cartoon on in the mornings now to occupy my early risers, and I take some time – alone – in my bedroom to read the Bible and pray for some quiet devotions to start my day.
These things make me smile, and they help to fill my tank.
Sooooo how about you? Brainstorm a bit… What fills your tank?
Do you love to paint? Could you sneak over to the home of an encouraging older woman and have her teach you a skill or baking technique? Maybe you can find a babysitter one afternoon and host a few moms at your own house and do some creative teaching of your own (and not only fill your tank, but fill the tank of others too).
Wake up in the morning and start your day by thanking God for the blessings He has given you. Start a thankful project and write down little blessings that make you smile or that leave your heart feeling content. Then make five minutes here or a treat there count!
Whip up a hot breakfast for yourself and fix it up all pretty. (I’ve been making myself tasty bowls of oatmeal in the morning and going all crazy with the yummy additions like raisins and spices). Create a cozy reading nook, complete with cup or tea and snuggly blanket, so that five minutes of downtime when the kids are asleep feels more conscious and appreciated. Make your morning coffee in a cute mug and slow down just along enough to appreciate it. Light a candle and take a hot bath.
Better yet, set aside two hours ever week as “mom time” and let the kiddos enjoy special time with your hubby. (I’m still a work in progress with this one, but a mom should have goals. Ha, ha.).
Get out of your mom routine for just a bit, so that you can refresh, feel human, and then hop back into mom life feeling a bit more like yourself! 🙂 Try to squeeze some rest in if you can (because you need it). And fix yourself actual meals and drink actual water, because – even if sometimes you might forget it – you’re an actual human who functions on those things.
Oh and lastly… Remember this.
You were handpicked by the Creator of the universe to be the mama of your specific children. He knew you were the right one for them!
And you are a daughter of the King. It’s time you started to treat yourself like you believe that. Girl, you are loved. You are seen. And you matter! Even on those days, weeks, and months that leave you feeling as though you’ve given all you can and there just isn’t one free moment to breathe, know that there is One who sees each sacrifice you make. He sees your silent tears, lonely heart, and tired mind. And He treasures you, not only for your role as a mom… but also as the beautiful treasure that you are as a person. He sees you as a masterpiece worthy of love, not because of what you are doing but because of who you are. His!
So don’t let yourself get empty. Make sure that you’re a mom who has gas! 🙂