The most important thing I have done for myself as a mother and partner is establish the routine of getting up before everyone else in the house. When you have three three-year-olds--or elderly parents or your own business or __________(fill in the blank)--it is hard to take time for yourself. There is a lot of guilt involved in overlooking everything that needs to be done in order to grab for a few minutes for yourself.
But I am very committed to my morning time. H's mom, "the Nana," sets such a good example of a person of faith committed to starting her day off in quiet meditation. For as long as I've known H, her mother has started everyday with her coffee and her reading and her prayer. I always admired her for it, saw how she benefited from it, but never tried to make it work in my own life.
Getting up first. Giving thanks. Drinking my coffee in solitude and stillness, before the energy of the house rises for the day. Reading from various books. Giving thanks. Writing in my journal. Working on "my little story." Reading poetry. Occasionally doing some sewing or yoga. Meditating on qualities I hope grow or diminish within me. Focusing on my day and what I hope to accomplish or improve. Giving thanks.
I have a great deal of certainty that this is a habit that will be mine for a long time to come. It does me too much good to put it down. It is worth the thirty or ninety less minutes of sleep. It is ten times worth giving up that hour of television at night to get up an hour early the next morning.
My time. My morning meditation. It makes me a better mother, a better partner. By the time the rest of my family is up, I am able to meet them from a place of contentment, gratefulness. I'm not hitting the ground running, struggling to wake up as those around me twirl around like tops and dervishes and tornadoes. I have spent time with myself; I am now able to be more present.
Depending on the time of year, I sometimes get up with the sun. These are some of my favorite mornings--the light spilling through the trees like ink. The pink overtaking the navy of the sky, the fog hovering in the troughs. Every once in a while, deer eating under the oak trees. These are my favorite mornings. The winter mornings where my coffee shields me from the cold outside. But all the mornings are worth while. Every morning makes my day clearer and more complete.
There are lots of things I don't do for myself that I need to--exercise enough, shower enough, socialize enough. But getting up before my family is one thing I can commit to, one thing I can, to a certain extent, control. I do love myself enough to give me that time.
What can you do for yourself? What gift would you give a friend, hope for a friend? Do that for yourself. You are worth it and you will be stronger for it, more grounded, more content, and probably more accepting of yourself and others. Whatever it is--make it happen. Love you.
All the photos in this post are pictures I took with my phone of a Eudora Welty Exhibit. I took an hour one day by myself and went to a museum not too far from where I was that day to see this exhibit--Eudora Welty: Exposures and Reflections. I love Southern literature and culture; I loved my time looking at the photography this great writer took during her time with the WPA in Mississippi. Strolling through this collection was a special time for me, because it was my time doing something for me. As the title of this post says, loving myself enough to take the time.
The first photo may have been my favorite of the exhibit: School Children Meeting a Visitor, 1935-36. The remainder of the photos are titled as follows:
Ruins of Windsor, post-1936.
Carrying the Ice for Sunday Dinner, prior to 1935.
Tomato Packers' Recess, 1935-36.
Hairdressing Queue, prior to 1935.
The photo just above is Untitled (Woman in Cotton Field) prior to 1935.
Finally, the one below is Home with Bottle Trees, 1936.
I took a picture, also, of a book open to a page where Ms. Welty is writing about her experience as a photographer and a writer. She writes, "I knew this, anyway: that my wish, indeed my continuing passion, would be not to point the finger in judgment but to part a curtain, that invisible shadow that falls between people, the veil of indifference to each other's presence, each other's wonder, each other's human plight." Jackson, 1971.