My eyes open slowly. As I roll from my side onto my back, I let out a long cat-like stretch. I feel a slight afternoon breeze blow in from the window as I wipe the remaining drool off my cheek. I guess I fell asleep while the kids were napping again. Peeking at the monitor, I see they are both still asleep. Thank God. Maybe I still have some time to get a couple things done or just sit. Some glorious sitting sounds nice. I sigh as I pick up my phone and start to scroll through my Instagram feed. Another flawless Instagram photo. She’s got on the perfect shade of lipstick, sun-kissed skin, smooth hair, and a seemingly effortlessly boho-chic outfit on. How does she take such perfect Instagram photos everytime? I swear to God she has a professional photographer following her around snapping pictures of her and her friends. Flawless, youthful and free.
I slide off the bed and adjust the stretchy waistband on my leggings, pick off a sock that clung to my leg, and toss it back into the clean laundry pile. I stop to look in the mirror as I walk by. Inspired by the Instagram photo, I grab a lipstick and apply it lightly to my lips. Smack. There, much better.
I shuffle to the pantry and grab a pack of fruit snacks and then continue on to the kitchen counter pressing the Keurig power button. I lean against the counter as I wait for the water to warm and shove the fruit snacks into my mouth. I do not feel flawless, youthful or free. I feel very much flawed, tired and constrained.
Sometimes when my husband and I are driving anywhere close to the airport, I like to fantasize about going on a trip somewhere. In this fantasy, someone, a family member or friend, tell us that they will watch our kids for us starting right now for an extended number of days. But the kicker is we have to leave and go to the airport right then and there without packing or anything. So, naturally, with this offer of guilt-free childcare for several days with no strings attached, we head to the airport with nothing but the clothes we are wearing and our purse and wallet of course.
We can buy everything we need on the trip. We pick a tropical, warm destination like Hawaii or even So Cal will due. All I will need there is sunscreen, a swimsuit and a few sundresses. Easy. I’ll also be able to get a wax at the spa in the resort we stay at. I’ll even throw in a massage. We’ll be able to get our necessary toiletry items there as well.
At the airport, as we await our flight, I’ll pick up book and a few trashy magazines. Hours on a flight, with no one else to take care of, nothing else to do, I can just nap and read or chat with my husband.
This fantasy is so silly, but I find myself thinking about it from time to time (in detail- as you can clearly see). I know why. I miss the spontaneity that life before kids held. I miss the freedom. I miss me time or special time with my husband. There are obviously many things in the way of making this trip a reality. But this daydream drifts into my mind often.
I am beyond blessed with what’s been provided in my life. But sometimes, even with the best of circumstances and best of what life has to offer, I find myself wanting more or wanting different. Whenever this happens for me, I seriously need to get myself in check. This can be a slippery slope that leads me to believe that what I have is not enough or not fulfilling. The lies and deceit start to scroll through my mind like an Instagram feed.
Social media is not truthful. I have to remind myself of that. However seemingly perfect a photo or life may appear, it absolutely is not. The same way that I find I’m envious of another’s situation, I am sure people may be of mine.
If I find myself in a dangerous zone of fantasizing too much or feeling sorrowful over the fact that I can’t hang out carefree poolside all day, I have to get out of it. It can affect my attitude, my outlook, and therefore possibly impacting my marriage and my children. There are some steps I can take in order to curb this downward spiral of self-pity.
Scripture. If I find myself in this place, I have to look back to what God’s word says. I love my Write the Word journal. The first thing each entry has me do is write what I am grateful for. This automatically causes me to shift over to positivity and reflection on the blessings God has placed in my life. It often only takes a few minutes of scripture reading and personal reflection to put things back in perspective or at least get my thoughts moving back in the right direction.
Self-care. I sometimes find that if I haven’t taken some action or essential steps to care for myself, it impacts me greatly. I tend to get lazy at self-care as a mom. For example, I have been out of my face moisturizer for days and I just keep putting on sunscreen in the morning instead. My face feels greasy and parched at the same time. I need to set aside a few minutes and order my face moisturizer! It’s the small things.
Yesterday, about three quarters through the day I realized my underwear was on inside out and I just left it that way for the rest of the day. I didn’t even take the time to turn them right side out or even just change my underwear! These are not big things. Wearing clothes properly and nourishing my skin.
Today I am wearing something I feel cute and comfortable in. I have showered, shaved my legs, and curled my hair. I made yummy turkey lettuce wraps for myself at lunch instead of eating my kids’ leftovers. It feels good. Self-care is essential.
Friends. Getting together with my friends or a friend (not just checking their Instagram feed or Facebook status) in-person either with kids or without, refreshes me like you wouldn’t believe. Most of my friends are mothers and therefore totally understand this stage of life. We get to laugh, cry, talk, drink wine, and bask in understanding and grace from one another. My friends encourage, sympathize and smile. They help keep me grounded and sain.
I could go on with the things that get me back on track. Time away with my husband, even for an hour or two. A special activity with my kids. Giving myself time to write and reflect. Unplug from social media, even for a day. There are many things that help. I just need to be aware of when I am slipping into this place of discontentment and get started on something positive.
Flawed, tired and constrained? Should not be so. If I am ever feeling flawed-I must seek Jesus. He looks at my flaws or my own perceived flaws and sees beauty. He sees opportunity for grace and growth. If I am ever feeling tired-I shouldn’t feel guilty to take time for myself. If I don’t feel rested, clean or put-together, how will that transfer over to quality time with my kids or husband? If I am ever feeling constrained, I need to think about the blessings these little lives bring to our family and others. My kids aren’t here on earth just for me, but are here for His greater calling and purpose. I have been tasked with teaching them, nurturing them, and loving them.
Flawless, youthful, and free? Maybe not, but flawed, tired, constrained? How about no. I’m still reflecting about what my three words are or what I want to strive for them to be. What are your three words?