My good friend had been bugging me for months about joining, and I finally looked on their website and found a nearby church that hosts a MOPS group. I joined for a minimal fee ($25 or so), and I am SO thankful that I did! Our group meets twice a month on Tuesday mornings. Babies are welcome in the meetings, but it is meant to be a time of Christian mom fellowship, so they have a nursery for the babies and a program just for the kids as well.
I was a little wary of leaving Victoria in a nursery with people I didn't know, so I arrived very early for my first meeting in order to talk with the nursery workers and get to know them. They were amazing women, one of which is the wife of the retired pastor of the church, and so felt comfortable leaving Victoria and going to the meeting. And it was soooo nice.
I got to eat breakfast! A warm breakfast! All by myself with no one needing anything from me or trying to mooch food off of my plate! I got to sit and talk with the women around me who all are in the same stage of life as me and enjoy fellowship with them. I got to glean wisdom from the older mentor at our table (a really wonderful woman in the mid-60s) who helps encourage us moms. It was so wonderful and encouraging. Now I look forward so much to the 1st and 3rd Tuesday mornings of each month. I leave there feeling so replenished!
One week last Fall they showed us a video at the MOPS meeting about a woman who is now in her 50s. She talked about how someone told her when she was a young mom "don't do anything during nap time that isn't restorative". She talked about the feeling mom's of young children get, of feeling like a capri sun juice box that has been sucked dry. Young children require so much of us, it can be easy to give and give and give, all while forgetting to replenish ourselves.
She said for her, creativity became an important replenisher. She joined a quilting class (She had never quilted in her life) simply because it fit into her schedule, and once a week would leave her 3 very young children (I believe they were all under age 4) with her husband for an evening to go to a quilting class. It became a very replenishing and restorative hobby for her, and years later she still does it!
Another woman in the group shared how her mom had 6 kids and the house was very busy, but once per week without fail she went to a painting class with some of her friends.
This made me think about the guilt we as moms feel on 2 fronts:
1) Guilt that we even feel depleted in the first place. I mean, our lives are wonderful, we have beautiful children that are such blessings, wonderful husbands, warm homes, more stuff than we could ever need, a savior who died for us, and we can still feel empty and depleted at times.
2) Guilt that we don't feel completely restored by God alone. This is a feeling I get sometimes in my relationship with the Lord. I know that daily Bible time with Him should restore me, and it does in some ways. I always can tell my days go better when I take the time with Him in the morning. But there is a sense of guilt that I need something more than that, and I think many of us feel like the Lord should be enough.
So where does that leave us? Depleted and feeling like there's no way to fill ourselves back up!
My mom always told me I'd be no good to anybody if I didn't take the time to take care of myself. So I've made an effort to do that, and it has been such a help. And I believe that part of that is taking joy in the God-given talents and interests that the Lord gives us!
God is an amazingly creative God! Have you ever thought about that? About the sheer awesomeness of his creativity? And if we are made in his image, then we are also creative beings! That doesn't mean we will all be selling our artwork someday, but it means we all have a creative side to us, whether it is writing, cooking, sewing, quilting, painting, crafting, etc. So it makes sense that we feel depleted when we ignore an essential part of our being by focusing solely on our children or our husbands or our houses.
And the same is to be said of the Lord and our relationship with Him. Our Lord fills an amazing God-sized hole in our hearts and lives. We all know many people (and perhaps even ourselves) who try to fill that hole with other things, and know that nothing can satisfy. That is how our Lord is enough. He is sufficient to fill that void in our hearts we were created with. He completes that yearning in us. Time with him is essential for our happiness and feelings of fulfillment. But it doesn't mean we can't have creative and personal outlets outside of that relationship, so long as those outlets do not interfere with the responsibilities we have to Him and our families.
He made us to be creative, to be tools in His world. And while at this stage in my life, much of my time is spent being His tool in my child's life and my husband's life, I am not limited to that. God created me with talents that are uniquely mine, and that is a beautiful thing.
Sometimes it is so easy to lose ourselves in our identity of "mom" that we forget who we were before. I have come to believe that it is important to have some sort of outlet in our lives that is all ours, and that is restorative. For me, those outlets are my Jamberry business and exercise.
It has been so amazing how exercise has changed for me since having Victoria. Before having her, I wasn't super into exercise. I did it because it was healthy and I enjoyed having a toned shape, but it was never something I really enjoyed. Then I started going to workout classes when Victoria was nearly 4 months old, and it became my "me" time. So now 2-3 times per week I leave my daughter with my husband (sometimes after she is already asleep for the night), and I go to a workout class. I look forward to it and always feel SO much less stressed as a result! Not only that, the exercise has helped me to be healthier and more energetic.
My Jamberry business has become a fun, girlie, creative, and social outlet that also helps me bring in a little extra money for our family.
So if you are feeling depleted, please know that I totally get it! I feel that way sometimes too! But also know that you are dear, and you are precious, and you are unique, and it is ok for you to have something that is all yours! It is not selfish to replenish yourself (if it was the overriding theme of your life, then that would be a different story) and have your own interests and hobbies that are your own. In fact, I believe you are a better wife, mother, and friend when you take time to pursue your own interests.
Of my of my favorite bloggers wrote about this topic recently, HERE.
What do you do that you would call "Restorative"?