By Cynthia Rey
As pillars of our homes, we co-labor with our husbands to maintain our lives in balance, and keep the to-do lists continually checked off. We’ve become accustomed to interruptions, yet still manage to be everything to everyone, as needed. Rain or shine, healthy or ill; we accomplish things.
Endless chores fill our minds the moment our feet hit the floor in the mornings (sometimes sooner), but how do we handle those days in which our bodies scream for rest, or our minds for peace? The flu, a cold, depression, and anxiety don’t consider our responsibilities when hitting us with their symptoms. They make our days seem longer, and we don’t take sick days at home.
Is it a matter of pride, guilt, or both?
I, myself, was hit with the flu a few weeks ago. I had never felt as ill as I did then. My whole body ached, and it wouldn’t cooperate when I attempted to carry on with my daily chores. I gave up. My couch was as far as I would walk, to and from the bathroom, for the next week.
I didn’t fight it this time; I let it be.
For the first time ever, I allowed myself to be ill, and the house to fend for itself. Needless to say, the house didn’t do so well, but my family did. My husband stepped up to the plate when he was home, and the kids did what they could do for themselves (which is more than I usually allow them, or trust them to do). Yes, the trash piled high, as did the dirty dishes. There was no free space on the counters, and the carpet in the living room didn’t have the neat just-vacuumed lines I enjoy seeing.
But we survived. The kids didn’t care about the disorder. I was probably the only one mortified that it wasn’t getting cleaned up.
I let it be because I had no choice. My body wasn’t listening to my mind, so I listened to my body.
It made me think of how often—if not always—we mothers put our own well-being last on our lists for the sake of cleanliness, order, and completed chores. It allowed me to see that although these things are indeed important, and help our days be more productive and healthy, they are not what matters most.
We are in competition with no one.
No one has to pity us when we choose to cook and clean while we are sick, and we feel as if no one appreciates it. It is our job to care for our families. It is also our job to care for ourselves, and know our limits, our priorities, and allow ourselves rest.
Beyond the physical ailments that might come a few times a year, there are emotional challenges. Whether triggered by memories, unresolved conflict, or current circumstances, they are there—unrelenting, and unforgiving. It is true that life doesn’t wait, and we still have responsibilities. However, it is also true that our homes will not collapse if we allow ourselves time to heal without burdening ourselves with pressure to keep everything up to standard; a standard no one holds us up to except ourselves, usually.
Time. We don’t seem to have it, sometimes. It is a thief, some say, but it often takes what we allow it to.
Time was beautifully set in motion by our Heavenly Father to allow for seasons, work, and rest. How are we using it?
Here are some reminders:
Thankfulness: We should never take our homes (or the work they require) for granted.
Individuality: Families are made up of individuals. Each needs responsibilities, love, and respect.
Memories: What legacy are we leaving? In order to give the best of us, we must be at our best.
Eternally minded: Most of the concerns and “priorities” that occupy our minds and time are not as important as we make them out to be, nor will they matter in eternity.
Allow yourself to heal when your mind is not at ease, or your body fights an illness. You can still be involved in your home. Something as simple as gathering the family for a read-aloud can be both enjoyable for all, as well as therapeutic for you.
Consider the chores assigned to your children. There is probably more they can do for themselves that will take pressure off your day. They can help with laundry, sweeping, gardening, cooking (depending on their ages), and many other things. These things can take some time to teach, but it will be worth the effort! The kids will be learning important life skills, and you will be carving out more time to dedicate to something else.
If all you will allow yourself are two minutes in the bathroom, then that’s a start.
If you can be disciplined to get up twenty minutes earlier to write in your journal, read, or pray, do so.
Whatever you do when you need time, just don’t do nothing. Do something.
Time is found when we make it. The Lord has provided it to be used wisely. This is why He gave us the Sabbath. A day with no regular chores; a day when we can focus on Him, and get refreshed.
“Remember the Sabbath, and keep it holy,” He said.
Perhaps if we made it a point to take our day of rest once a week, we might be less overwhelmed during the busy routines.
Are you facing a trial or an illness? Give it to God in prayer, and give yourself time.
It is precious, and it is available to you. Give yourself permission.
Cynthia Rey is a wife, and stay-at-home, homeschooling mom to her 10-year-old son. She ministers to children, young adults, and women through FaithOutspoken.org, striving always to be a woman after God’s own heart.