"Don't you ever do something for yourself?"
People ask me this quite frequently. Usually, they have a day spa in mind or a weekend away without the kids. Truthfully, I'm not the day spa type. I don't know exactly what the day spa type is; I just know it's not me. Any place that requires me to shed my clothes for a dressing gown and lay on an adjustable table is a little too much like a hospital for me to ever relax there.
However, I do think that one way to ease out of that burned out state is to acknowledge that it's nice to be nice to ourselves. When you are nurturing yourself, you have to use the same approach that you use when nurturing your children. If I think a child is particularly burdened, I look for ways to help lighten the load. And if I think a special gift–a gift chosen just for that child–might help in some way, I usually endeavor to provide it. So…I provided three gifts for myself recently to help brighten my days and sing a new song.
First up, a good laugh. I re-read Danielle Bean's Mom to Mom, Day to Day. This book is funny. You're guaranteed a laugh. But more than that, it's a place where I can go and find someone who "gets it." It's nice to see in print a family a lot like mine and a mother who is honest about the fact that the struggles inside our homes are different than those of our neighbors with 1.8 kids. Not better, not worse, just different. We are weird. But at least we're in good company. I find comfort in that.
Next, and similarly, I love Marie Bellet. First, a disclaimer: I'm not a music critic. I like the music; it works for me, but I have no idea if it's good music. I'm all about the lyrics. When she sings about a new springtime and invokes John Paul the Great, I'm belting it out at the top of my lungs and the whole day seems sunnier. And when she sings about "nine more months, one more time," I'm grinning from ear to ear and hoping "me, too." Marie Bellet expresses joy in this crazy lifestyle and she is honest about our failings while encouraging us to strive to be something more.
Finally, a present of extraordinary value. I am the delighted and inspired owner of a truly beautiful rosary. I love the rosary. In his gracious goodness, the Holy Spirit has infused in me a love for this devotion over the past year that has born immeasurable fruit. Mostly, I've prayed the rosary while listening to a CD. Recently, I decided that I wanted a rosary to hold. I wanted the sensory experience of touching the beads (Catholics are like that, I think–we pray with all our senses). And oh, what a sensory experience is mine. I might just have the most beautiful rosary ever! It was named "Vessel of Life, Vessel of Joy" by Kimberlee, who created it for me. There is a large centerpiece of Our Lady of Guadalupe, which reminds me of her words to Juan Diego: Am I not here, I who am your mother? Are you not under my shadow and watch? Am I not the source of your joy? Are you not in the fold of my mantle, in the crossing of my arms? The Ave beads are a deep rose color, my favorite color, and the Church's color of joy. I fall asleep every night holding this rosary, prayerfully considering my joys in life. Everything about my rosary reminds me to take joy in my vocation, my greatest delight.
This gift–this something I did for myself–is something I do for myself every day and something I do for myself for eternity. With the rosary, come the promises of Mary to Saint Dominic. I have to think they have more value for me and for my family than a day at a spa.