It’s 2:00 on a Monday afternoon, and my house is blissfully silent.
My oldest two are at school, my toddler is napping, and my five-year-old son? He’s at an in-home daycare. Why? Because I hire babysitting just so I can lay around.
Some may call it lazy. Others may think it’s self-indulgent. But for me, it’s just smart.
Take today, for example. I watched an episode of the The View on my DVR and was able to listen to every passionate conversation Whoopi, Sunny, Meghan, Sara, and Joy had with zero interruptions from a child needing their bottom wiped or snack cup filled.
I made myself lunch, a gooey grilled cheese and Brussels sprouts, and I ate the entire plate of food while it was still fresh and hot. Like many moms, my food is often luke-warm at best. Then I made fresh coffee and enjoyed some chocolate before sitting down to design this week’s blog newsletter.
Some days I write an article. Other days I call a girlfriend, soak my feet, or read a book. Sometimes I binge-watch The Handmaid’s Tale or another not-even-close-to-child-appropriate show.
What I don’t do? Wash dishes, sort laundry, pay bills, exercise, pack lunches, prep dinner, or sweep the floor. You won’t find me folding towels or grocery shopping or clipping coupons.
I have one priority: do what I want, when I want, how I want, and enjoy it unapologetically.
I certainly understand and appreciate that this is a luxury. Laying around isn’t something I feel I’m entitled to. Rather, it is something I not only want, but need.
Twice in a twelve-year time span, I have faced a major medical issue. The first was when I grew increasingly ill, losing weight rapidly with no explanation, struggling with depression and exhaustion. At the point I grew breathless, my husband took me to the ER where we discovered my blood sugar was 700 (which is seven times higher than the norm) and I was in a state called DKA (diabetic ketoacidosis) where the body is toxic and begins to shut down. I was on death’s door, saved in the proverbial nick of time.
The second was just last summer. I found a lump in my breast and had it examined. The doctor ordered a mammogram and ultrasound, both of which were determined to be normal. However, I couldn’t shake the feeling that something was wrong. I went to a breast surgeon who ordered a biopsy. That “normal” lump was breast cancer. I chose to have a bi-lateral mastectomy, which was followed by a three-month recovery.
Both medical situations were traumatic for me. For the rest of my life, I will be dependent on an insulin pump. I will also, for at least ten years, be monitored for a recurrence of breast cancer. Pair these with anxiety, and I’m just a ball of medical fun.
The thing with medical trauma is that long after the scars have healed and the doctor has declared you healthy, you are not free. Healing the body physically is one thing, but healing emotionally, mentally, and spiritually is another.
The down time I’ve secured for myself has afforded me the opportunity to pause, relax, recalibrate. It’s given me the time and space to think or to completely zone out.
There have been a few times when I’ve wondered, is this ridiculous of me? Others are in the midst of their work day right now, and here I am catching up on my favorite talk show. Or, others are struggling to make ends meet, and I’m spending money on a babysitter for my child who could just be home with me right now. Or, stay-at-home-moms like me don’t deserve a little peace and quiet. We signed up for this parenting gig.
Then I remember. I remember the toll a lack of self-care takes on a woman. I remember all that I’ve been through and what I still need to heal from. I remember that I work my ass off every day to care for four children and to contribute to society by sharing my stories through writing. I remember that I’m a damn good wife and friend.
And what I remember most? Roll your eyes if you want, but it’s true: I can’t give what I don’t have.
So if taking a few hours a week to do nothing is what it takes to keep plugging away, that’s what I’m going to do. Perhaps that’s the definition of the strongest women? The ones who know what they need and take responsibility for carrying that out.
Whatever your struggle and whatever season of life you are in, you probably know what you need to not just survive life, but to thrive. I can promise you that when you have the courage and conviction to take steps to care for yourself, you are making the right choice.