I was supposed to go on a trip next week to see a dear friend of mine. I have never gone anywhere for more than a couple of hours on my own without my children or husband since I got married thirteen years ago. But, that trip isn't going to happen. Six months or a year ago, I would have been crushed with disappointment, because of the state of my heart.
It was something I yearned for... to be free for a moment. But, two weeks ago, something clicked during the sermon at church. The resentment I'd had for a long time and the yearning to not be a wife and mom for a moment and be able to focus on a friend disappeared. I had yearned just to be able to do what I wanted to do without distraction. There's a lot of focus in our culture by moms on the idea of "taking care of me". There hasn't been much room for this in my life. I have tried to not listen to that message, but sometimes it has gotten into my heart over the years and it sewed seeds of resentment every time it got past my defenses.
Two weeks ago, my heart was freed from those seeds. I knew it at the time. The pastor was talking about doing our work and something else. I can't honestly remember exactly what he said. But, I knew I need to do my job. Our culture tells us that "taking care of me" is what's going to refuel us. I actually think this is a bit off. What really can refuel me is words like the ones my son said to me last night. I think the story will speak for itself.
As I sat down on Eli's bed to put him to sleep, I asked him if he understood that I'm not going on my trip next week.
He started to cry.
I knew his 6 year old little head. I asked if he was upset because this meant he wasn't going to go over to his grandma's house.
He cried, "yes."
I said, "Well, you would miss me."
I took this as him thinking he wouldn't miss me.
My heart grew a frown inside and I felt bad. I was already coping with my own disappointment and somehow this really hurt. I said something to him about how this is just the way it was going to be.
I was upset and I left the room.
I pondered for a minute and then went back after my heart had cooled down a little.
I can't exactly remember what I said next, but I think I explained to him that I was staying because they (my kids and husband) need me to stay and take care of them.
My son launches in and said, "Oh! Like in the story!"
"the story?" I asked.
"The story about Hubert and the lady. He told the king that he needed to stay because she needed him and because... HE needed her."
Then my son was very wise and he said to me. "We need you and you need us."
Yes. They need me. AND I need them.
What will actually refuel me? Being with them. Sitting and resting with them. Reading with them and engaging my heart. Loving them. It sounds a little backwards. But, I know it's not.
PS the story he was talking about was Lamplighter Theater's story of The Lost Prince.
PPS I'm not saying that as moms we shouldn't take care of ourselves at all, but what that means in our society often gets very twisted around...