I often wonder how people do it – Have careers, and a family, and have time for themselves. Some days it is just a struggle to keep up with my busy schedule. I feel at times I do not have any real time for myself. At times, I have verbalized my thoughts, wondering how a parent makes sure they take care of themselves as well, and the inevitable answer is that they do not make “me time” and that the child and family always come first. When I express my concern, or maybe a look of horror comes over my face (I am not sure), more times than I care to say I hear the ridiculous line, “You will understand when you have children.” As if no thought or concern or opinion matters to those of us without children. Hmm… I digress.
I am thinking of this idea of “self” right now. Maybe because I have made some major life changes. Maybe it’s because I am rereading Chopin’s The Awakening. I am at the point where Edna discovers that she has too long neglected herself and is not willing to do this anymore. She states,
“I would give up the unessential; I would give my money, I would give my life for my children; but I wouldn’t give myself. I can’t make it more clear; it’s only something which I am beginning to comprehend, which is revealing itself to me.”
I think too often, many of us—with kids or without—end up giving too much of ourselves. After a tough day or week at school, I feel emotionally drained and physically exhausted. During the times that I spend every spare moment ensuring my kids make it across the stage, I realize I have not had any time to concentrate on myself, as I spend those evenings grading and lesson planning and doing all the things I didn’t have time to do during the day. It is not healthy, and individually we need to determine what is essential. A parent playing the role of a martyr is not healthy. A single woman spending day after day surrounded by work and grad school and second jobs is not healthy. And in a world full of issues and polarized politics and constant distractions from social media and mindless TV, I think we need to determine what is essential and take time to find, and keep, our self.
I have recently taken up cooking as a passion, and I adore my rows and rows of spices and searching for new recipes. I have taken to healthy, clean, sugar-free eating. I am beginning to read more. I am still searching for more meaning, and I wish others around me would as well. I have a friend who began practicing mindfulness, a brother who took up Taekwondo (or something of the sort), a friend who paints as her passion. All of us seem better off, happier, a little more relaxed or at peace with life. Self. Let your self reveal itself to you, and when it does, make it essential.