guest post,  motherhood

You are not a locust

Yooooo guys (using the same tone of voice as the most brilliant Tumblr on the internet), today I have the distinct pleasure of having my favorite blogger – perhaps of all time – festooning my virtual living room with her whimsical sketches and frank humor and general superiority. True story, the first time I met Heather irl at last year’s Edel gathering I was like ….. because I’m socially awkward without alcohol and she was like THE PARTY DON’T START TILL I WALK IN, just with her general being. And it was love at first buffet-line encounter. Also, she loves cats and I love cats, and if you were to go ahead and share some of your favorite cat memes on her Facebook page I’m sure she’d be thrilled.

But seriously? Heather is my people. And then she goes and writes something like this and I’m even more convinced of that. Maybe you read her piece last week when it was burning up the internet, but in case you haven’t yet had the pleasure, may I present to you Mrs. Heather Schieder, wife to Dan and mother to 5 and runner/sketcher/humorist/tundra-dweller extraordinaire. (And maybe something about Crossfit, too? I don’t know, it’s hard to keep up with such a social climber.) Enjoy the fruits of her Prismacolor labor. And do be sure to check her archives for this Downton Abbey inspired episode involving room service and extreme morning sickness.

This one’s for the moms.

Let me tell you about a little thing that happened to me last summer.

A woman I know of whose kids are all grown up became a marathon runner in her fifties. As a brand new baby runner , I thought this was the coolest thing – and when I ran into her one day, I told her so.

“I just started running this summer!” I told her enthusiastically. “I really want to run a 5k in the fall.”

She took a deep breath.

Oh,” she said, as if I had told her I’d like to dance naked in the kitchen gadget aisle at Walmart on the Lord’s day. She seemed genuinely taken aback. “You’ll have plenty of time for that when your children are grown. Right now you need to focus on your children and your husband.”

Oh, riiiight. When I turn 60, the first thing my old ass will feel like doing is running a marathon.

 

You know what I wanna say, right? You know what it is. Three little initials, my friends. Three therapeutic little initials. 

 

I can’t hold it back.

AKA DOUBLEYOU TEE EFF

Sometimes people say dumb things to me and they catch me off guard and I don’t know what to say because I can’t even believe the level of ignorance. You know? Like would you ever expect anyone to say something so crazy and condescending and…poisonous? But  I  looked right at her and said, “WHAT?! That is absolutely ridiculous.” And I gave her a nice little speech on why and it felt so good.

Don’t mess.

Let me just say this. Dear moms of the world: you are not a locust.

You’re not supposed to go underground and hide from the entire world, putting yourself last to the point of not taking care of YOU until your kids reach adulthood.

That is absurd. That is a flawed message. And sorry, but that is not of God.

Nope. nope. nope.

Locusts can hibernate for 17 or so years and reemerge and wreak their havoc on cornfields or whatever like they haven’t missed a beat. But you? That’s not you.

Believe me. I’ve had to tell myself this message about balance about a million times. MAMA KNOWS. Mama really do know. I don’t say this stuff because I’m an expert. I say it because I know that struggle is real. It’s real for me.

You’re the only one who knows what you really need. I mean, besides God. And I happen to think that our husbands can be really good at knowing what we need too. At least mine usually does. Sometimes he just knows when I need to get out of the house without anyone else tagging along so I can do something that will bring me peace and joy so that I can come back and do the things that I need to do for my family.

That’s not wrong. That’s not sinful or selfish. It’s necessary. 

Maybe there’s another mom you know  who feels reenergized by getting together and praying with other moms, but maybe  that’s not what reenergizes you. Maybe you like going out for appetizers and laughing with your homegirls. You know what? That doesn’t make you some kind of heathen.

Maybe you like to exercise. Maybe you enjoy writing. Maybe you love to swim or go zip lining or hiking, reading or shopping or getting your nails done or maybe you like to sit on your behind and scroll the fb or pin on the Pinterest or watch YouTube videos of the double rainbow guy while you drink a nice ice cold beer, baby.

Maybe that’s what you need to do to recharge.

There’s nothing wrong with that! It’s NORMAL.

Take care of yourself. You deserve it.  I know it’s not easy because it isn’t easy for me to do it. I mean, it’s easy for me to be LAZY. But me being lazy isn’t me taking care of myself. There’s a difference. 

There’s nothing holy about burning yourself out to the point of complete misery, to the detriment of yourself and those you love.

And not only that – but being a wife and a mom isn’t all that you are. You’re a daughter of God, a woman, a human being, a friend. You have interests and likes and THAT’S ALL GREAT because that’s part of being a PERSON. It’s what makes  you balanced and what makes you you. God isn’t interested in making clones. He’s interested in individuals and in true relationship with  you.

Don’t let anyone make you feel like a locust. And take that break when you need it, mama.

Mind your dang business, Sheila.

12 Comments

  • AthenaC

    LMAO!!! Shame on you for making me laugh so hard at work. Wait – I take that back. Shame on ME for reading you at work and thus putting myself in the precarious position of trying to stifle laughter.

    And … followed!

  • Ashley

    So glad you posted this here – Heather is one of my very favorites too!! And I laughed just as hard this time around as I did last week.

    And the Downton Abbey “bell” post? Hysterical. Probably the funniest thing I’ve ever read. Tears, gasping, the whole thing. Man, she is brilliant. So glad she’s back from her blogging break.

  • Jill

    This is so amazing – had to share it with my social media followers! The drawings – totally make it.
    Thanks for this nice reminder that I need me time too!

  • Annelise

    The older, wiser woman’s advice was spot on. It is our vocation as wives and mothers to focus on our husband and children RIGHT NOW. How easy it is to rationalize this away with novelties outside the realm of our vocation.

    • Jenny Uebbing

      But how many mamas have you met – of varying ages – who are bitter, burnt out and overwhelmed because they didn’t/don’t make time for self care, prayer, exercise, etc.? I’ve met plenty in all generations. And it’s not pretty – not for their husbands and not for their children. Our culture overemphasizes selfish self-fulfillment, but the antidote to that is not the kind of self-anihilating martyrdom this woman was suggesting to the writer, but an emphatic “yes” to our humanity, and an acknowledgment that even, no, especially mothers need a break to do their jobs well.

      I hope you can find your breaks, whether they’re in parish prayer groups, pedicures, time spent in nature or at the gym. You’re worth it.

  • Cami

    Good stuff. The proverbs 31 bit had me cackling like a crazy person. I definitely am terrible at fitting in self care even though I know I need it. Thanks for sharing. Oh, and the Downton Abbey episode was hilarious!

  • fRED

    I don’t understand why this post is on a Catholic website. The post dismisses the idea of self-sacrifice and service (which Jesus advocates) and denigrates the wisdom of Prov 31. None of it elevates marriage or motherhood.

    • Jenny Uebbing

      I don’t understand why you keep coming back and reading it if it’s so disturbing to you, Fred. I’m glad you’ve never had the bizarre experience of living in a culture that simultaneously denigrates motherhood and devalues human life while also telling moms that they need to give of themselves to the point of self annihilation and that they’re being selfish if they practice self care. It’s a real false dichotomy, and it aint pretty. Google “Mother Teresa’s daily schedule” and you’ll see that in one’s vocation, setting aside time for recreation and self care is essential to receiving the energy and grace necessary to keep going. God bless.

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