Refueling When Parenting is Hard

If you’re anything like me, when you first held your tiny baby, you didn’t think your precious child could ever let you down. In fact, the possibility of disappointment probably wasn’t even a thought in your head. It wasn’t in mine.

The last year has been grueling. I’ve found myself disappointed, heartbroken, and hurting over the actions, words, and behaviors of one of my kids in particular.

It can be incredibly difficult to face each day when I know I’m going to be battling the same thing, with the same person. It’s exhausting at times.

I’ve seen plenty of analogies for our energy – batteries, engines, meters. Empty, full, overfull. Dead in the water, running right, on overdrive. It can be hard identifying where we are at and helping our kids do the same. Taking care of ourselves can seem almost mysterious at times – like is a hot bubble bath going to do it today, or do I need to work on my day planner and budget to refill my battery?

While sometimes self-care is pampering, for me it is often doing a hard task or completing something so that it’s off my plate, so I have one less spinning plate to deal with.

And what about when we do a little self-care, but still feel the sting of what’s not going right? What about when we are taking care of our battery but the smallest thing drains us because it was the same thing as yesterday, the day before, the week before, and on and on.

It’s when I bounce against the bungee 3 or 4 times and am hanging between canyon walls, that I am reminded that all of these things are me trying to do this in my own strength. I’m trying to be smart enough, charged enough, ready enough, focused enough. I’m trying to do this myself because I forget that Jesus is waiting to be my strength.

So often, in the pursuit of self-care, I am pursuing my own strength, wisdom, energy, enthusiasm, and courage to face the hardest of things. So often I am distracted by this notion that I must pull myself up by my bootstraps, that I lose sight of the empty tomb. A price too great for me to pay for myself, my Savior paid it all.

We can chase all the self-care, do all the self-care, read all the self-help content, and attend all the self-help meetings, and the emptiness, lack of energy, loss of strength remains. But when we pursue Jesus, and ask Him for enough for today, we no longer have to muster enough to face another moment. For He is there, being enough for that moment, and the next, and the next. One moment at a time, until we look back and see how much He conquered on our behalf, in us, and through us.

I’m not saying don’t take the bubble bath, or fill in the budget, or line out the day planner. What I am saying is, don’t mistake the minimal energy those things will give you for the strength and energy our gracious Savior has for you.

Until next time,
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A Prayer to Share:

Dear God,

While a bubble bath may be a temporary comfort, we turn to you for lasting comfort. Give us the strength for each moment as they come. Help us to parent for the long road. Help us have wisdom in each circumstance to point our children first toward You, then toward the way that pleases You. Help us persevere. Build strong character in us as we learn to do this hard job.

In Jesus’ Name,
Amen.

The Fine Art of Self Care

Self care came in a commercial package for me not so long ago – massages, chiropractic appointments, a hair cut, new essential oils, and more. And for a while, it felt like I was becoming a master of self-care. I enjoyed each of these things and was looking less and less at how they affected the checkbook. Good golly, I worked enough long, hard hours to justify the expense, didn’t I?

Self care looks different right now, today. We closed our business just a couple of weeks ago, and the hours have only been more grueling. I’d give my right arm to be able to afford a massage or the chiropractor right now. Suddenly every red cent in the checkbook matters, and I can’t spend money on these things I thought were the only way to self-care.

Turns out, though, that self-care is so much more than just these things. (And please know, I’m not taking away from chiropractic care or massage – both, I believe, are essential to health and wellness.)

Right now, self-care looks like these things:

Going to bed on time.

Getting up before the kids, so I can gather my thoughts for the day.

Putting my phone down.

In fact, I’m just going to park here for a minute, and say it again, sometimes taking care of myself means putting my phone down. No more scrolling, no more articles, no more messages. Because I’ve learned that my phone is the #1 reason that I begin feeling frenetic, like I can’t keep up. In the season we are in, I am juggling guilt, change, regret. Every article I read points me to all the things I could have, would have, should have. Then I can’t focus on the good things in my life, the goodness of God in my life, or how He is moving.

Sometimes self-care is a mental break from all that my phone bombards me with.

Sometimes self-care is a shower – nothing fancy, no aromatherapy, no relaxation shower gel, just a shower. Hot water, wash my hair, and conquer the day.

Sometimes self-care is reading a book, or more importantly, sometimes self-care is reading my bible.

Self care comes in the form of prayer – laying all of my worries at the feet of my Father and letting Him carry me.

Sometimes self-care isn’t alone, so much as it nestling into the crook of my husband’s arm and crying because this is hard. Or staying up late trying to make clay pots together. (I’ll share more about this adventure in a day or two.)

Sometimes self-care is doing hard tasks, draining ones, so that they are on the done side of the list, instead of the do side. Sometimes shortening the do list makes it easier to fall asleep at night.

Sometimes self-care is closing my bedroom door for some quiet to talk to my mom, because I need to hear her voice. Sometimes it’s not closing my door to talk to my sister, because she has just as much noise and chaos on her end and it’s how we do life together.

Sometimes self-care is writing – whether journaling, blogging, working on a novel. Writing is part of who I am.

I’d like to be able to make a trip to the chiropractor (and my tingling nerves would like it too) but in this season where I can’t, I don’t have to neglect myself. I don’t have to give in to this notion that self-care costs money that I don’t have.

How can you take care of yourself without spending any money, today? Share with me in the comments below.

 

Until next time,

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