Confession: I had a little bit of a meltdown the other day.
There was no particular trigger. Instead, tiny little details took up residence on my shoulders, wearing me down until I broke. Work, figuring out dinner, sleep training, my phone constantly buzzing with brand new text messages coming in from well-meaning friends…suddenly it was all so overwhelming and exhausting.
I came home wailing to Vlad that I needed a break from life. I did the thing I promised myself I wouldn’t do – grin and bear it all until I could no more.
As a extroverted introvert, I love to be around people but ultimately, when I need rest, I have to be alone. I guess I didn’t realize until this very moment that being home alone with Zoya didn’t constitute as true alone time. It’s not like we were having deep soul conversations for hours on a daily basis, but caring for a human depending on me for her every need was pretty depleting. I would try to stop and take a break during her nap times (they are pretty epic and can last as long as 2 hours). Yet, somehow, sitting on the couch surrounded by teething toys and thinking of the pile of dirty dishes in the sink was not very restful. Do you catch the sarcasm there?
I needed to intentionally take time away. From Zoya, from Vlad, from my IPhone.
Self care is so important – this I knew and proclaimed from a pedestal to others, yet I had a very hard time putting it into practice. Looking at things objectively, I had an irrational guilt about leaving my fully capable husband at home with our daughter while I went and did “me”. I cringed at the thought of being thought of as selfish, unproductive or inattentive.
Finally confessing all of this to Vlad in a tearful jag in our semi-lit kitchen at 9pm one night helped reaffirm that not only were my anxieties just that, but that self-care is imperative. It’s like putting on your oxygen mask on first before helping those around you. And it looks a little different for everyone. Together, we made a plan that I would take intentional time away on a regular basis in order to breathe and re-center myself, whatever that meant.
Through this experience, I was also reminded that the ultimate self-care comes from outside oneself. I don’t want to get all cheesy women’s Bible study here, but regular time in the Word coupled with heartfelt prayer renders within me what no amount of candlelit baths or pedicures can. It feels like letting out a sigh of relief. Or putting your head on a familiar shoulder and closing your eyes.
I admit that prior to having this little introspective moment, I had been struggling to find time for a quality quiet time. If Jesus is the living water, and fellowship with Him through prayer and reading the Bible is the way believers can drink of this water, then I was literally running on empty.
“Remember your word to your servant, in which you have made me hope. This is my comfort in my affliction, that your promise gives me life.”
That verse is Psalm 119:49-50. This particular psalm paints a beautiful picture of the beauty of dependence and delight in God’s Word. A cure to a lackluster Bible reading experience, if you may. The psalmist confesses to having strayed away at one point and implores God to open his eyes so that he may find true delight in the Word. He then points our numerous reasons the Word is to be delighted in. Reading it has been so relateable and relevant, I may as well have written it myself.
A few weeks have passed since I hit the reset button. I’d love to say that since then I have achieved perfect marks in having a quiet time and generally pausing for some self care. Reality is, it’s still a challenge for me. However, I consider just being mindful of my need a win. Little steps lead to big accomplishments, after all.
As for Vlad, he is ever supportive and encouraging. Today, after a great Sunday morning at church and spending time with sweet friends, he told me to get out of the house. I got in a great workout at the gym and then drove to our local Panera Bread, where I am now sitting and drinking a lemonade (or spilling on myself, depending on which point you catch me at). Also involved was an almond croissant, flaky and delicious. I can honestly say that I feel recharged and excited to come back to the hamster wheel that home can sometimes be.
It’s not an elaborate spa day…but who ever said it had to be?