A week ago tomorrow I sent my youngest off to Kindergarten. Eighteen years of young kids at home—these chapters of my life are done. What comes next is, just as much work as always, just a little more time for me.
People have said for years the most stupid of things to me: make sure you get time for yourself; take care of yourself first; if you don’t take care of you, you can’t take care of them; it’s an endless list of phrases that truthfully just never applied in my case.
When you have this many children spaced in the way I have and few supports in your life, you just do what you have to do. You do not take care of yourself. How can you. After many years and full blown burn out, I did begin to write again, after years of not writing. I began to realize I was crumbling. I think, I crumbled completely during that process of reemerging out of the womb of motherhood.
I still feel depleted. In every way a person should have strength, I have felt completely worn down, for years. I’v shad moments of strength but they quickly and easily get eaten up by this lingering exhaustion.
So, this year as the school year began, I sat with myself and pondered, what is it I really need.
First, my physical health is not even close to what it once was. Once upon a time, I barely got sick. I used to consider my immune system to be very strong. City life has definitely played a huge roll in my weak immune system, as well as sleep deprivation and lack of exercise. As a kid I walked all the time. I miss the country air I grew up in. In the city I don’t doubt that the amount of pollutants has a major impact on people’s health. Add in forced air furnaces and dry climate—it’s a recipe for disaster, and very different from what I grew up in.
Objective 1: physical health. Without that being recovered, everything else feels a little pointless. So, I’m walking—everyday that I can.
Objective 2: spiritual health. Without my spiritual health, I am unhealthy in my heart. So an hour each day for prayer, study, meditation, and quietude besides the walk. For me, spirituality is the life blood that keeps me sane and whole, all my life. Having children and caring for their needs, the constant interruptions and lack of time to reflect and meditate on spiritual matters has been devastating to my spiritual health. I’ve missed feeling spiritually balanced everyday. Try as hard as I could, the hustle and bustle of little kids for all these years, that lack of proper study and prayer, I’ve been so spiritually starved, it’s been gnawing at me. Mercilessly. The only exception to this is the time I have designated for the ministry. Which too, has been seriously neglected in these years of raising young children. Spiritual exhaustion causes a plethora of other symptoms, lack of sound judgement, poor character traits and flaws, selfishness, bad attitude…endless negative side effects of a weak spiritual health that you cannot combat properly. I’ve missed having spiritual strength.
Objective 3: my house. Getting all the craziness sorted and organized. This always needs to be done, but I feel like over the course of this year I want to get my home running a little more like a well oiled machine and a little less like a clunky bucket of bolts. Years of constant changing, growing and lack of time to properly organize and settle have taken a toll on all of us. We need a little more calm and serenity and way less chaos. So simplifying. Cleaning the closets and corners. Organizing properly all those parts of life that feel overwhelming and difficult—I know this will take time, tons of it, but eventually, I want my family to walk in the door and just easily slip through the motions of putting things away and not making a chaos zone for me to have to deal with. I want weekends to feel like calm times without cleaning that needs to be caught up on. For years I’ve felt we can’t just enjoy weekends because there is too much to sort out. I’ve hated it, that these years have been eaten up by chaos. A lot of people have a lot of stuff. I’m getting rid of the stuff. As much as I can. One section at a time I’m cleaning house—slowly but you better believe surely.
On the first walk of the new school year, and now today, the reddening leaves…