A few months ago I was pulling plastic plates from the kiddie-dish drawer, placing toddler forks on the table, and pouring each of my boys sippy cups of milk and water in preparation for dinner for the ump-thousandth time. Pull, place, pour. Pull, place, pour...this is the rhythm of my evenings (if you add a tune and pop your hip the *just right* way it could actually be a sick beat for da’ club...jkjkjk- I prefer soft pants and a spoonful of peanut butter to ‘da’ club’ these days). I hustle and bustle each evening to make sure the important men in my life are fed something nutritious, filling, and satisfying. Feeding your children to the best of your ability is not a novel idea. I am no different than every mother I know. Here’s how much I think I’m actually exactly like every mother I know- after I curated their dinner that night I leaned my left hip against the kitchen sink, stared out of the window facing my backyard, and I had the first bite of my dinner. Then I washed three dishes and a spoon and had the second bite of my dinner. Then I read some of the bajillion school papers that my eldest brought home in his notebook and I shoveled in my third bite of dinner. You see where I’m going with this?
Fast forward 90 minutes and I sat down on the couch. I let my bootie scooch to the front of the cushion and my head rest expertly on the edge of the pillow to the point where I resembled a stoned high school senior who’s already passed final exams and needs the attendance numbers to graduate. It felt like a freakin’ luxury. Whut. The. Heck. That’s what luxury is like for me? Holy no. I let out an exaggerated sigh when one of my small children asked for help in the bathroom. That was it. I wasn’t going to continue to be a sink eater. A mama martyr. I love my boys and providing acts of service is a guiding principle of my life. But somewhere along the way my wires got crossed. I realized in that moment that serving people, especially little people, is not always an act of service, sometimes it reaches the point of servitude. Service and servitude are not the same thing. Hustlin’ and bustlin’ to pull, place, pour, wipe, brush, wash, pack, and tuck had taken over. By the time I was done doing all the things I “needed” to do, I was too zapped to do the the things I *wanted* to do. I vowed right then and there to stop eating at the kitchen sink. Literally and figuratively.
When I get home from work the toughest job in the world begins. You hustlin’ mamas know what I’m talkin’ bout. These days I refuse to wind myself tighter and tighter, servitude on overdrive, until I snap. I still have my checklist of things to do, but I am a much better person to my family and to MYSELF when I take the time to change into my soft pants. To sit. To breathe. To listen. To *connect*. It doesn’t always happen that way, but I’m conscious of how much of a difference it makes in my house, even for 10 minutes. For my kids, sure (yay, the kids like me for one more day!) but the difference it’s made in me is even more important and has become invaluable. When I give myself permission to say “Oh, you want some milk? Get a cup and get some,” or “It’s your responsibility to (fill in the blank), I’m not doing that for you,” or “Mama needs a minute to sit down and relax too” I am better. I am better for them and I am better for me.
I bet you listen to the wants and needs of people all day, every day. And I also bet you provide acts of service to fulfill the wants and needs of those people. What about you? What about your wants and needs? Are you tuned into those? Are you taken care of? Take the time to practice acts of service for your wellness too. You deserve it, I promise. And for the love of all things, stop eating over the kitchen sink. Sit. Now.