I have long suffered the self-diagnosed condition of never having enough me time. If only I had some, I would be kinder or smarter or just plain better at everything. I was sure of it. I have heard the edge in my own voice as it crashed full of hard angles into those I hold dear. Can I please have a minute? I haven’t even sat down yet! I have literally gone from prepping to cooking to cleaning up to this, ughhhhhh. The worst part of saying that stuff is the immediate recoil I feel from whom I want to be and who I innately am when saying those things.
Ironically, now that I have “me time” in stretches that conveniently mirror a school day, I see how much me time I have, how much I have always had and also how much I have squandered. Those few moments between an alarm sounding and getting out of bed? Me time. That is the chance to say thank you for waking up. That alone is a gift. I get to try again; it’s a brand new day. I have spent so many mornings not in that space but ten steps ahead or twelve steps behind. On my worst moments I have spent that time thinking: Ugh, I have so much to do today, I need to go here and there and do this and send off that – things that won’t need to be executed until an hour or later. Or, I have simmered about what didn’t get done last night or how little I slept or what needed to be fixed with the dawn of a new day. There are spaces in every day no matter how incredibly crowded and overbearing the day is, that allow us a moment to collect ourselves, that give us the opportunity to turn things around. I just couldn’t see it until I stopped keeping an eye out for what I thought it was going to look like.
The harder lesson for me to get was the universal sign of when it wasn’t my turn. I borrowed a book from the library that I found fascinating and really enjoyed reading. Because some of the principles and studies in it are unfamiliar, it’s not something I can read in momentary bursts, coming back to it and picking up right where I left off hours or days later. But I didn’t want to accept that. So I kept trying to do it my way, picking at it between conversations with the kids or moments before or right after mealtimes. I didn’t recognize that I was becoming frustrated because I needed a larger block of time to read in. I just kept trying to get out of it what I could when I could until I found a lull in the day where I thought I’d fit it in properly. Finally, I had my me time. Only, Me Time turned into a plus two and then plus three and the space I had found was too crowded for me. All I wanted to do was read my book, guys, I thought. Would it have been so hard for me to have a moment to do that? The simple answer was no. No, it wouldn’t be hard for me to have a moment. That is what I was asking for and I had been given moments, many of them in fact.
It is easy (and that is why we do it so often) to blame someone or something for getting ourselves stuck. It wasn’t my fault! It was time’s fault. There aren’t enough hours in the day! There are times where that is undoubtedly true – but it wasn’t in my case. I had been ineffectively using my time and then feeling sorry for myself when that wasn’t working out for me.
So here is what I am doing. This morning, after the alarm went off, but before I sprung out of bed, I said thank you. Instead of thinking of how my husband would be going off to work and what his day would entail, I felt grateful that he was beside me right at that very moment. I had lunches to pack but I had food in the house to pack them with. There were dishes to unstack because we ate an amazing dinner the night before. I had to run to the library because our daughter is a voracious reader and her sister is really interested in learning to read now too. I needed to get out of my rut and into my groove.
I almost slipped back when I was standing in line at the dollar store today. I only had a handful of things while the ladies in front of me had a cartful a piece, broken up into several transactions. I realized that each of the ladies was shopping for several people and had bills to cover what each of the separate transactions would tally. The woman behind me was irate, making long exasperated sighs and leaning forward to inform no one (or everyone) in particular that this was a TOTAL WASTE OF HER DAY, JESUS CHRIST! (This led me to assume she might not have attended Catholic School in her formative years and had teachers pass along the wisdom that if a person summons Jesus in that manner they should be prepared to face him when he comes – but I am just guessing on that one).
Because it was not me having the tantrum it was abundantly clear that SHE was wasting her day. She chose to focus on what was going wrong and what she felt was being taken from her. In the few minutes it took for the ladies in front of me to complete their shopping I had already made up a story about them and the recipients for whom they shopped. I figured maybe only those ladies had a car, or time off of work, or both in which to purchase items for the others. That is how I spent some of my me time today. A lesser me (even the person I was a few days ago) wouldn’t have known to look for it there.