Monday, April 18, 2016

Motherhood and Guiltless Leisure

This afternoon, after the chores and school were done and everyone was having their own quiet play time, after I settled the preschoolers with a show and after I switched over the laundry, I made a quick cup of coffee and settled on the back porch with a copy of Image magazine that I received as a birthday gift.

I don't read much these days, but as I thumbed through the pages and caught a few breathless sentences, I felt a familiar stirring inside me. Comfort. The warmth of the mug and the the words on the page, the soft breeze and the surrounding silence...for a few moments, anyway. I savored what I read and when the coffee was gone, it was time to head back in. My time outside alone couldn't have been more than ten minutes, but the space, perspective and peace that resulted is carried along with me.

The conundrum of motherhood and leisure is that we either get none, and wind up soul-starved, or what we do get we lace in guilt. Surely, I have other things to do. Who am I to take a moment in the middle of an afternoon to sit and read?

Leisure and motherhood don't have to be mutually exclusive or fraught with guilt. They shouldn't be. I find that the things I choose to spend my precious little personal time are, for the most part, things that make me a better person. Things that expand my horizon, cement my relationships, bring me closer to God.

This wasn't always the case. There was a time in my life when relaxing in front of mindless television was my preferred evening activity, and to be completely honest I still enjoy some of that - though not nearly as often as before. I realized - the fallacy here is that you can take time off. Sure, you can halt any activity of importance or weight, but you can't hit the pause button on time. Time marches on, and the older I get the more I realize how blessed little of it there is.

Perhaps the overwhelmingly positive that I take away from this is that those things that I sometimes feel a bit guilty about, the things that feel like a luxurious indulgence - afternoons sipping coffee with a girlfriend talking while our kids play out back, an evening out with my husband, a nap on a sun speckled Sunday, going out for a beer with my siblings - these things aren't "just" private indulgences with no value. They are intentional acts that improve the rest of my life and the lives around me. They take time, yes, but they are worth time. They are full of real life.

The Moms I know garden for fun while their little ones help out, or sit outside and do a bible study while their kids swing on the swings. They knit at craft nights and in doing so create much needed community for themselves and others. Even when they aren't multi tasking, they are giving themselves the breathing room necessary to be the strong, courageous, life changing warriors that they are. We need that. The people in our lives need us to have that.

It's not that we "deserve" leisure by our merit and hard work. It is that our work, our vision, our calling is positively impacted when we make it a priority.

It's time to start dinner, check homework, get things organized for co op tomorrow. I'm in a better place to tackle it then I was before.

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