… not my seasoned advice this time. I hoped the photo from Pexel might be a subtle hint about that, seeing as I have not quite amassed enough wrinkles to be called wise on this subject.
Having now reached the age in life where I am often reminded of how little I know, I made it a point this summer to listen carefully to some older women who have raised families and are watching their grandchildren grow up. While it sometimes seems to me that raising a family 40 years ago would be much simpler than in our current day, some things remain the same through the centuries, and these are the things I want to pass on to you from what they told me.
Let’s hear from two women who each raised 13 children. Not surprisingly, quite a bit of their advice overlapped.
- Do what it takes to keep yourself productive. Drink coffee if you need it. Eat chocolate. Take walks.
- Take care of your soul. You really have to do that. Pray while you work. Write verses on post-its and stick them where you often see them.
- Keep a song in your home. Get everybody to sing together when things start feeling out of control or when the attitudes get stinky.
- Read lots and lots of stories. ( ❤ ❤ )
- Play with your children. Do things on their level, even if you aren’t really interested in what they want to do. Have fun together.
- Don’t waste time feeling sorry for yourself. You really don’t have time for that.
- Let things go. You will not be able to do everything that you think should be done. You will have to prioritize whether you value your children or your house more.
See why I listened to them? Their advice is so homely and real. They have made it through more spilled milk and sibling squabbles and teen issues than most people can imagine and they are beautiful women, strong in faith. They have things to say that I need to hear.
We recently had a panel of older women who answered questions and shared from their life experiences for the ladies at church. The questions ranged from home/family, to keeping an eternal perspective, to making friendships that are meaningful. The one that interested me the most was this, in my own words: What do you think is the reason for younger women getting “burned out” or “stressed” and needing “me-time”? How did you deal with overwhelming seasons in life?
So… what do you think they said?
Apparently me-time is a fairly modern invention. Going to the spa or to the coffee shop with friends, getting away from the kids, taking a vacation with just your husband… all these things were not commonplace for our mothers and grandmothers. It wasn’t that they didn’t have pressures and problems. Nobody can pretend that having lots of children in the home with hungry bodies and thirsty spirits is going to be a walk in the park. I am sure I was just as needy as a child as any of my children are. But when confronted with this question, the ladies on the panel said, “We didn’t have me-time. We did the next thing, and then the next. We learned to love having our children around us.” (Again, my own words, from my impressions of the conversation.)
I got the feeling that they leaned into the harness and learned to love the work. If you love what you are doing, you do not need to be rescued from it.
There is another thing they shared that I think honesty will compel us to cringingly nod our heads in agreement. They said they didn’t have the distractions of internet and the pressures of social media. In other words, they didn’t have all their friends and all the ideas trotting through their lives every day, distracting them from their main purpose. I am still mulling over this one, because I love people and the connections that are made possible by the web. Not going to lie, it would be hard for me to give up. This is a big one that everybody has to mull through on their own, but it isn’t one we should just shrug off.
Speaking for myself here: I live in this century. It’s a hyper-connected world, with so much potential to touch others’ lives and my obligations extend past my home. Learning how to live restfully is so important if I am going to have any influence for good in the world. Exhaustion is a thing, and needing me-time, as much as I cringe at that term, is a thing.
I hope to have a conversation here about things that breathe life into our weariness, so if you could please start thinking about that?