Sometimes, outlandish pursuits can masquerade as self care. In the name of individual growth, rest, or healing, popular culture would have us believe it’s all permissible if you’re looking after yourself.
As a Jesus-follower, my head knowledge tells me that submitting in service is emblematic of the Man I follow, and so I’ve often found some tension in the self care message.
Until, a lifelong friend put it in really simple terms for me.
Over our monthly girl dinner, I was justifying a recent text message I sent to her at an unseemly hour, explaining why cutting out my sleep…yawn…was the only flexible thing at this time in my life.
“Do you want your kids to remember that their mom was always tired?” She asked me. “Besides, how great for them to see you set boundaries and take care of your own health.”
When my daughter cheerfully asked me if I had a headache a few days later, I knew those little eyes had indeed been watching.
How do I look through those little eyes? What do I want those little eyes to see?
I want those little eyes to see hard work.
I want those little eyes to see silliness.
I also want those little eyes to see restfulness.
We’re not in the school years yet with our children, which means my husband and I have many lofty plans not yet measured against reality. With the safety in many years’ distance, we often discuss how we’d like to limit activities, to give some freedom to be spontaneous, or even freedom to rest. From where I sit watching friends with older kids, it looks like a frenzy.
What I can control are what my two little sets of eyes see. More than an ever-sparkling house, an always put-together-mama, or a wall of frame-worthy crafts (though I do appreciate all those things!), I want those little eyes to see how their mama prioritized rest. I want them to know in their core that an unplanned, unproductive day can sometimes become the restoration their little souls will need.
I want my kids to remember that mom was a lot of things. Sometimes, I was tired, so I rested. Sometimes, I had big goals, so I worked hard. I want them to remember a balance of pizza nights and diligent meal planning, and a mixture of silliness, joy, and ambition.
Above all, I want them to see through little eyes that it is okay to care for themselves, so they can find the restoration and motivation they need to do the valuable work set before them.