Finding time for myself, as a mom of 9 kids, is difficult. As I type this I'm sitting in the living room in the dark. My husband has already gone to bed. Two teen daughters are awake, in different rooms. I'm sitting in a room full of sleeping sick kids, and one 4 year old who napped too much this afternoon and won't give up yet. Hopefully she'll fall asleep soon. This is as alone as I've been lately.
Okay, I did run errands at the community college, the library, and Wal-Mart alone today, but it didn't exactly feel like alone time. I was gone for 1.5 hours, but I didn't let myself slow down and enjoy it. I didn't call a friend and get coffee. I just hurried home to the sick kids so my teens could return to their school work.
But I've grown accustomed to this. Even as an introvert, I've learned to enjoy the more quiet moments, even if I'm not completely alone. I still find time to refresh myself, in small snatches, and I survive. Yes, I get tired. Yes, I get grouchy sometimes. But, it is all in my perspective. I can enjoy the semi-peaceful, semi-quiet, and semi-alone moments as they come. Or, I can sit around being angry that I haven't gone out for coffee in months, am past due for a haircut, haven't had a date night lately, and I don't get spa days or writing get-aways.
There is beauty in even the mundane moments. Right now, I have four sleeping "babies" and one almost sleeping "baby" laying scattered around the lamp-lit living room. (Don't tell the 8 and 10 year olds I called them babies.) Lullaby music is playing, the smell of Vick's cherry chest rub for kids fills the air, and my four year old finally talked herself to sleep. She has always been one to talk herself to sleep. She knew I was near, and she felt loved. Someday I'll miss those falling asleep conversations. Someday I'll miss having kids wake me up in the night because they are sick and need me. (Okay, maybe not that one.)
For every energy-draining argument I have with a teenager, every debate with a tween, every temper tantrum from a preschooler, every interrupted night, and every chore or school struggle, there are also moments when someone asks for a hug, wants to know if I love them still, tells me they love me, and even rare moments when everyone is happily occupied so I am able to sit and read a book.
When I am physically spent, I can head to bed early, or collapse on the couch with a preschooler in my arms to nap for a couple hours, as I did today. When I am spiritually spent, I cry, I pray, I journal, I dig into God's Word, and I pour out my heart to my husband.
Then in the morning I get up and do it all over again. Because no matter how loud and crazy my house is, no matter how ordinary the days are, I love my husband and my kids. I love my stressed-out, busy life.
I have a couple favorite quotes and a favorite Bible verse that encourage me.
"Courage doesn't always roar. Sometimes courage is the little voice at the end of the day that says I will try again tomorrow."
~ Mary Anne Radmacher
“Isn't it nice to think that tomorrow is a new day with no mistakes in it yet?”
~ Anne of Green Gables, L.M. Montgomery
"The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness."
I love knowing that no matter how exhausted or grouchy I am, no matter how difficult the day has been with attitudes or arguments, tomorrow is a new day. When I get up each day, we start over. And if I get myself up early enough, I can even start my day with peace and quiet before the kids get up.
Which means I should probably go to bed now, before someone needs me again.