Julie Lyles Carr: Putting the Me in TiME

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Putting the Me in TiME

I'm sitting on my bed, computer in my lap. History Channel is blaring on the television, 3 of 8 mesmerized by a special on giant box jelly fish. The twins are freshly out of the tub, hair damp, one of them sporting only a diaper, one of them in the buff. They have opened an entire package of diapers and are throwing them all over the bed, bouncing up and down, giggling hysterically at each other's antics. Michael has finally come in from the office and is reheating the quiche I made hours ago for dinner, bringing his plate into our room to watch the mayhem.
And I need to leave in 20 minutes to go pick up 2 of 8 from a late evening dance practice.

So naturally, this is the time I decided to write about the importance of 'Me' time.

I'm such the poster child for balance.

Or lack thereof.

4 of 8 has now wandered into the bedroom to ask if she can dig into our collection of jewelry making supplies to create a necklace.

Fine. Whatever.

I'm trying to have a little 'Me' time.

Dixie Mom asks:
My question is: How often do you take "me time" and how do you manage it? I know your oldest are babysitting age now, but "back in the day" were you able to take the time for yourself? Sometimes it seems that my only time is when I go to the grocery store alone.

Oh, Girl.

I feel ya.

Ironically, I'm the first one to tell my friends how much they need to have alone time, how important it is to take a deep breath, take a few moments, recharge the batteries.

Ironic because I'm not very good at doing that very thing.

Back in the days when we had half the number of kiddos we have now, I had a college student who would come one morning a week. 1 of 8 was in public school at the time, 2 and 3 of 8 were in preschool, and my cheerful college student would come to play with 4 of 8 so I could run a few errands, grab a little coffee with a friend, what have you. I chose to hire her over getting a cleaning lady or someone to help with the yard: it was worth it to me to spend that spot of budget on that Tuesday morning 'Me' time.

And then the college student married and moved away. And I started homeschooling the kids. And then we had 5 of 8. And the budget got tighter because we discovered we would be buying hearing aids for 4 of 8. And then 6 of 8 was born.

And the 'me' got taken out of 'time'.

The trend continued as we entered a season of a radical relocation five years ago, a move that took us many miles from extended family and community. The kids and I spent a great deal of time traveling and adjusting to our new locale. It took quite a while to feel settled and we never did find someone who could babysit on a regular basis.

But time marches on and I now have two older teenagers in the house. While their schedules are busy and we have never wanted the older kids to feel that they had to 'co-parent', we do ask to hire one of them from time to time so that Michael and I can have a date. And I do ask one of the girls to babysit on Fridays when I do my big grocery shopping. I feel like such a maverick, slinking into Costco, going to the food court and treating myself to a slice of cheese pizza and a mocha latte.

So I do have some issues with getting some 'Me' time right now.

Which is what the running and the ability to tune out is all about.

I do try to hit the treadmill frequently, my iPod blaring the top 40 hits from my high school years.

And I have developed the ability to meditate that would rival a Tibetan monk.

Except that when I say meditate, I mean 'tune out' everything but a code red fight brewing in the other room and any squeals or screams that would indicate injury.

Focus. Breathe. Type.

There's the blogging. While tuning out the chaos. Yep. That's my usual writing environment. I don't know if I could write in the quiet.

But when I hit sensory overload in the joyful noise that is the soundtrack of my home, I find that I revert to my natural night owl ways. A few late night hours immersed in a book, some bubble time in the tub when the rest of the house is asleep, those little moments help me recharge.

And I would tell you about how I'm really an introvert masquerading as an extrovert. And I would tell you that it's a good thing for me to learn this level of focus and patience. And I would tell you that you should do as I say and not as I do on this topic, that you should make sure you have some time and space.

I would do all this. But I've got to jump in the van and go get 2 of 8 from dance.

And I'm going to have the kids stay home with Mike.

Because the 15 minute drive to the dance school is going to be my 'Me' time.

In this season, I've gotten very adept at mining small moments in a field of busy.

I will drive. And I will listen to myself think.

In the quiet.

With the music of the van's engine accompanying my thoughts.

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