On most days, parenthood feels like the dying of oneself. Life no longer revolves around you or your own independent decisions. Instead, you will likely find yourself last on the priority list at the close of each day. This does, however, offer a most amazing peace: your children are alive and you lived another day to bask in their glow.
I was experiencing the euphoria of this moment just before bed one night last week. It was approximately 10:00 p.m., and I was ecstatic about an early (at least for me) bedtime.
As I turned off our living room’s final light, I glanced at the rug that my children frequent during the busy hours of day. The toys, in classic toddler fashion, were strewn around the room. Make a note of that slide, I reminded myself.
As I completed the excited tango of a careful mother in the dark, it struck me. No, literally, our wooden doorframe struck me. Crack! My nose had failed in its attempt to move the wall.
Two doctor appointments and three x-rays later, the verdict was less than amusing: a likely fracture. I may have even laughed at myself if my face hadn’t been hurting so badly.
Needless to say, I didn’t make it to bed early, but I did find myself with more time to think over the long days and nights of pain that followed. For the first time, I began to ponder parenthood and the care that so many mothers, including myself, do not take to ensure that we are healthy – physically, mentally, spiritually, and emotionally.
While it may be true that we must first secure our own face mask, I can’t help but wonder what that actually looks like on a daily basis. Does this mean daily Bible study before sunrise? A monthly massage? Weekly trips to the gym?
I think, perhaps, the answer is even more simple: do something small every day for yourself.
This week my own homework resulted in an hour-long yoga session; a baking project; and an afternoon of conversation beneath the trees with my mother. To an outsider, my life, I am sure, remained much the same – I woke up tired and returned to bed each night equally exhausted. The moments in the middle, however, made all the difference.
For the first time in many months, I tended to my own healing, and I made time for things outside of my children that simply make life easier to bear.
Although my nose may never return to normal, I am grateful for the impact of reality in that moment. A mother’s life is worth more than she gives, and we were not designed to dance around toys in the dark without error.
I know that I will face even greater walls in the years to come, but I am unlearning parenthood to find myself again. After all, there is no one that this mother knows better.