“I need a break!”, I tell my husband, semi-exasperatedly. I can feel it in my bones. My internal tank of patience and kindness is almost on empty, and my body has slowly grown more tense over the days and weeks of being with my kids 24/7. Don’t get me wrong, I love them dearly. But it’s true that a little distance makes the heart grow fonder!
[As I'm writing this my children are eating lunch. While lunch was cooking, I swept the entire dining room, and I know I could have put together an entire loaf of bread with all the crumbs I gathered. That was 15 minutes ago. I go in there now to re-fill their plates of polenta, chicken, and rice, and what do my eyes behold? Rice all over their chairs and all on the floor. I lower my head and sigh. Motherhood has no satisfaction of short-term goal completion.]
Our bodies always give us “clues” as to what is really going on inside, before everything explodes on the outside. The question is: Do we listen? And if we listen, do we heed?
Over the years I have learned to listen to my body’s messages, telling me I need to take a break, before I “breakdown”. I used to ignore my body, trying to pretend that I was stronger and more capable than I really was. My body won every time. Fits of frustration and anger would spew out of my mouth, drenching anyone within 5 feet. I wanted to be “super mom” (or super “whatever” you do), and thought that needing a break – much less taking one – signified weakness. Truth be told though, when I listen to those internal messages – whether it’s mentally in my “self talk”, or physically in my muscles, etc. – I can prevent the train from flying off the cliff into the ravine.
One problem though that I have found many people bring up in response to “take a break” is time or money. On one hand I totally understand this, and obviously when I tell my hubby I need a break I don’t mean leaving the family for a week to take a Mediterranean cruise (although I’m all up for that if anyone wants to make that happen). I will never forget one couple in particular that I counseled. Our appointments were the only time they got to be away from their children and be alone with one another. I wanted to tell them to quit coming and just take an hour long date each week, but I knew they would not do it. Why? Because they could justify marital counseling – they could not justify a date though. Counseling was necessary for preventing divorce. Dates were a “want” that insinuated selfishness and indulgence.
We all need breaks from all areas in our life. Work, Home, Family, you name it. But do we view these breaks as necessary, or expendable?
While I felt guilty at first for taking breaks away from my family – a few hours here and there, to go out with a girlfriend or go shopping (somewhere other than the grocery store) – my husband assured me over and over again that he would rather have me gone for a little bit and spend a little money, than to have an unhappy wife and irritable mother – whose mental and emotional breakdowns cost much more than 3 hours and $20 to get back to a state of “normalcy”.
So what about you? How do YOU take breaks to avoid breakdown? And what are your “internal clues” that a break is needed?