This week, I really struggled to get a quiet moment to myself. And mind you, my kids are 18, 20, 22 (next week) and 25: Two in college, one in grad school, and only my youngest son with special needs is home all the time. But the others are in and out. Especially in the summer, this place feels like a revolving door as the twenty-somethings are traveling, working, exploring, etc. In fact, just last night, one of them called and asked if it was OK to come home on two days notice to stay a week and just chill. … and of course it is — can’t wait to see him.
That being said — back on topic — it is difficult to find that quiet time with God, that recharging time. I can schedule it, but often life gets in the way.
My little corner of the world…
I have a little corner in the master bedroom by the window that is shaded by a huge green oak. My corner is ‘fenced in’ by books, knitting baskets. It has ONE CHAIR only, and a cushy ledge on the window pane, whereon presides my tomcat Kierkegaard in all his awful majesty. My corner also has a cross on the wall, some incense sticks and a few tea candles, as well as a meditation pillow. That’s my corner.
I think it was Marie Osmond who sang “My Little Corner of the World”. I can hardly remember how the song went or whether I liked it, I just remember the phrase. We moms need a little private corner of the world, a place to run to “to get away from it all”.
Five Minutes of Peace
The book “Five Minutes of Peace”, with Mrs. Large, the elephant, taking a bath, and then ending up with all five of her children joining her in the tub is a classic example. It is not that we moms do not love our kids – we are finite, we run out of energy, patience, good things to say, and we need to recharge before we do and say things we regret, simply because we have reached our breaking point.
Note that getting that peace requires boundaries, that is YOU setting boundaries with your kids, your dog, your husband — with whoever wants something from you. You NEED to set those boundaries, you need to tell them all where they end and where you begin, or you will burn out. You need to set them consistently, and stick to them. And that is hard. But it is good for everyone to recognize that even Mom, inexhaustible fount of nourishment, encouragement, energy, and resolve, has her limits — just like everyone else. Mom is a person, she deserves respect, and she — like everyone else — needs to be nourished.
How to Recharge
Every mom will recharge a little bit differently, but I will mention a few of my better recharge methods (I like the chocolate, praline, or cream pie recharges, even, at times, the “surf the web for an hour while “locking” your kids in their rooms”, but I want to share the physically and spiritually healthier recharges).
First of all, let me say that when my four kids were under 10, I had quiet time enforced every afternoon after lunch. Kids were in their rooms either napping or doing whatever they wanted to (anything that did not involve electronics). It was usually 90 minutes, and I would go to my own bedroom during that time, unless I had some pressing task that I had to do that absolutely could not wait.
My little corner of the world is my prayer, books, cats, and knitting corner.
Wherever we live, it usually is carved out of the master bedroom. Currently it is fenced in on 3 sides by bookshelves containing most of my favorite books. It also contains my little prayer nook, which has a cross on the wall, some candles, a little incense, my devotional books, a prayer-book, my Bible and a prayer list or prayer journal, along with a docking station for my iPad, which happens to contain my favorite prayer-book and Bible on it, along with a list of daily Bible verses to read. That is my refuge. It is a place where I can kneel in prayer or sit in meditation. I chose the corner of the room where the window is, and outside the window is a gorgeous huge oak tree, currently in full foliage. In this corner I seek solace from the world. Here, everything is OK, nothing threatens. I am God’s and He is mine, as the Psalmist said “The Lord is my refuge, I shall not fear what man shall do to me.” In that corner I meditate on His Word, I sit in stillness – just being. It is a place of peace – a safe place. In that corner at the foot of the cross I can metaphorically lay down my burdens, confess my fears, repent of my sins, and let go… knowing fully that He loves me, He forgives me, and he is there for me. That is where I come to listen and hear what He has to tell me. I need that corner as much as I need food and water and air. It is my living water, my inspiration, the reason I can keep going.
For the mom with the little ones, teach your kids to be reverent and quiet when approaching that space of yours. If possible teach them not to interrupt you there. Go there during their quiet time, and go there, also, when you need to pray. Let your kids join you there only in prayer. Apart from the conflicts within you, the ones you bring to the foot of the cross, keep that space holy and set apart, not a place where arguments take place or where folks are loud.
Prayer is resting at the feet of God
Now, if you’re like I used to be, there were days when prayer was the last thing I wanted to do. Not because I don’t love God, but because it was just one more thing on an endless list of things to do. It required reading 2-3 chapters of Scripture and reciting an ever increasing list of names that God needed to heal, restore, support, or otherwise have mercy on. There is a time for doing that, but when you are exhausted, that is not the time. Prayer, to me, now, is first of all being quiet and listening to God. It involves sitting down in my chair or sitting on my meditation pillow (which is comfortable and gives me a seat where I can rest while being alert), clearing my mind of all the clutter that is stressing me, and breathing deeply until God’s peace washes over me. Sometimes I just say “God, you know!” and nothing more, and then I enjoy knowing that He is there with me, and nothing more needs to be said. Sometimes I play inspirational music, and let the sounds wash over me until I am rested and whole. — In short, it is a place to go, NOT to remind myself how delinquent I am in Bible reading and intercessory prayer, but a place of true rest and bliss.
One other thing I do in my little corner of the world… or two other things, rather. I sit there and read, read my favorite books, and quite often I read via a book on tape. That way I can crochet, knit, or cross stitch at the same time. Note, those are tasks I engage in, not because it is necessary, but because I like to engage in them. Again, my little corner is a refuge and a delight, not a spot for obligation, duty, work, conflict or guilt. It is a place where I am alone with Him, or alone with myself and my book and my handiwork – a place of peace and a place of safety (emotionally, physically, in every way) – regardless of what the rest of my life contains.
Many moms I know give all they have. They give and give and give, and they try to be so kind and patient, and then when they are spent, totally spent, and the next kid comes up with an innocent request, THAT’s the kid who gets it — the victim of all that pent-up frustration which our natural defenses cannot withhold because there is no energy left to keep it in. — Don’t spend yourself. Save enough of yourself to get yourself to that corner to recharge, so you can face the world again, refreshed.