If you're a mom, the title of this post isn't a foreign idea to you. It's no secret that mother's of young children have a difficult time not losing themselves in the daily grind of diaper changes, burp rags, toilet training and laundry loads.
But in the throes of motherhood, how do you keep from losing yourself? How do you remind yourself of the things that make you, YOU?
I remember a significant moment shortly after I had my second child. After Britany was born, I struggled in a way I hadn't yet as a mother. I was the new mother of 2 under 2. I was literally on survival mode. Rather than living to the fullest with my toddler and infant, I was simply doing just what I could to keep everyone alive. I hadn't really told anyone about my private struggle with the demands of my new life. Not even my husband knew how difficult of a time I was having. When I look back on that time, I can describe it as like being in the middle of the ocean treading water...barely able to keep my head above. I guess you could say I had a classic case of post partum depression, although at the time I wouldn't have so logically labeled it. I felt like I was drowning in my own life, and while I was just barely getting by as a mother, I certainly didn't have the time or energy to focus on being anything other than that. One particular day, when our new daughter was probably less than 2 months old, we had a big snowfall in Vermont. My husband went outside to shovel the back deck, and I stayed in with the girls. After about 15 minutes, my husband came in and asked if I'd like to finish the shoveling--if only to get out for a bit. I reluctantly agreed and grabbed my coat and gloves and started shoveling. After I finished the deck, it was almost dusk. There was a gray fog that had settled and snow started falling. Cold, blustery snow. The kind that sticks. The snow kept coming until it you could barely see for 100 feet in front of you. I walked off the deck and into the woods behind our house. And I stood there. In the quiet. With the quiet, calm, cold snow falling around me. All I could hear was the wind and all I could see was snow and trees. I stood there for minutes. Just letting time pass and just being silent. Just being me. Memories flashed of countless snow storms of my childhood. Playing outside in the snow, letting it's clean blanket restore the earth in newness. It was restoring me in those moments. I closed my eyes and let the cold flakes fall and the wind blow and silence sweep over me.
I don't remember the exact details, of course, but I'm sure that as I went back into that house, the crying started, the housework reappeared and the responsibilities of a mother of two small children resumed. But the work those moments had done in my heart remained. A moment to breathe. A chance to reflect. An opportunity to be myself for even a second--without demands, without servitude.
Mothers, I know it's not easy to get away. I know it's not easy to take that time for yourself without feeling guilty or frustrated with your own need for a minute alone. But make that time. Step outside away from the noise and the rush. Don't just sit on the couch for a few minutes and call it good. Actually get outside the four walls of your home. Clear your head. Don't fill it with more chaos and stress from facebook feeds or a dramatic TV show. Get outside. Feel the air. Breathe the air. Get alone, get silent and clear the clutter of your own mind and heart. Pray. Think. Just breathe. Whatever difficulty you are facing as a mom today, it will pass. But it may pass easier if you take a few minutes to let the wind blow your stresses away from you. Even just for a minute.