Stuck in the desert

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Motherhood can feel like the longest, driest, most punishing desert in the world. We put our kids, our husbands, our careers, our extended family, our friends ahead of ourselves every day. You're tired, dirty, uncomfortable, hot (but not necessarily the way you USED to be!) and above all, thirsty.

In the early years, the newborn haze, it can feel like you'll be trapped in the desert forever. While there may be fountains of reprieve in the distance, the mountain of diapers and feedings and sleep-deprived-stupor can prevent you from even wetting your lips from the rim of a glass.

The toddler days provide some relief - a bit more independence, less ever-vigilant care, but new challenges arise. Separation anxiety. Tantrums. The need for speed (how can I NOT catch up to you when my legs are 5 times longer than yours??). In the blur of the preschool years, the water is closer at hand, but you simply don't the have time to take a sip.

As the years go by, the challenges change but the desert remains the same. We feel relief is on the horizon, but somehow the blooming oasis seems always just out of reach. We tell ourselves that it will get easier - when they stop nursing, when they're potty trained, when they start school, when they learn how to drive, when the finish high school, when they go to college, when they find a job, when they get married and start a family of their own... As the years go by, there is always another challenge. Another reason for the mother to lose sleep or burn the candle at both ends.

The other day, I took a moment to ask a mentor - an amazingly accomplished and professionally successful woman who has just entered the empty nest phase how she did it. How did she make it through the early years, the mean and not-so-lean years, without completely losing her shit. As she smiled, I could see her reflecting on years of diapers and work demands, colic and conference calls, toilet training and business travel. Then, she told me something both simple and profound.

You have to create a little oasis for yourself - EVERY DAY.

At first, I wanted to laugh. An oasis? Really? Like I'm going to have time to do that.

Then, I recalled one of the the most basic human truths. The body can survive for months without food, weeks without sleep. But after just 1 day without water, you're toast.

I think much the same can be said about motherhood.

Sleep, proper nutrition, personal hygiene - at some point or another during the course of your child's life, you will go without one or all of them. Often for longer than you care to admit. But none of us will survive if we treat the first 18 years of our children's lives like a never-ending marathon. You MUST find time to relax and recharge every day. I'm not talking about a 3 hour lunch or morning-long pampering ritual. I mean stealing moments of time that are just for you - even hiding in the bathroom for 10 minutes to read a magazine in peace (I happened to do that myself today, while both children were screaming and running around the house like lunatics and my husband was pulling groceries from the truck).

So, here is my challenge to all of you. This week, your assignment is to find 10 minutes daily to chill. Whatever that means to you - just do it. We cannot traverse the desert of motherhood with the majority of our senses and common sense intact without spending some time in the replenishing pools of an oasis every day.

Come on in. The water's fine...
Crabapple said...

this badassmama follower took your advice to heart, but instead of 10 minutes, I took an entire day. I spent 8 hours shopping for new clothes sans kids and hubby and it felt great. I came home relaxed and didn't even get mad when I arrived to a complete mess in every room and no one (including hubby had taken a bath!) Thanks Badassmama

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