Thursday, October 9, 2014

day 9: the gift of solitude

i am a mom of six kids and i home school. my husband and i run a small ministry in town. my boys play soccer and have a full schedule of practices and games (and are really good!). i have a lot of family who live in town that i am blessed to spend regular time with. i am also very much an extrovert. back in college we did the myers-briggs test during a leadership training and my results were enfp. our leadership director told me that in all of his years working with college-aged leaders and giving this test, he had never seen anyone with results as extremely enfp as mine. most people are some where on the spectrum of each characteristic, but i was extremely each one of mine. for the category of extrovert or introvert, i was all the way on the extrovert side.

i say all this to give context for what i am thankful for today - i am thankful for alone time.

as an extreme extrovert, i really enjoy being around people. (good thing since i am around 6 little kids 24/7!) but i still need the occasional alone time, and i am not very good at recognizing my need to be alone because i don't actually like to be alone. however, when i do get a chance to be alone, even if i spin my wheels the whole time wondering what to do with myself, i am re-energized and enjoy my time with others even more than before afterwards.

when i was young my mom used to put me in my room for a "nap." during this nap time i would often sit in the dark of my room and play with my stuffed animals making up a whole world for them. other times i would  prop the black out blind against my bed frame just so, so that light came onto a corner of my bed and i could lay there and look at books and read. i used to think my mom didn't know i was awake in there. i later found out that she knew i wasn't asleep but was just giving me some alone time, since i tended to get overstimulated by constant activity (even when i was enjoying it).

my husband seems to recognize the same dynamic and has encouraged me to take time to be alone when he can be with the kids and have life carry on without me. when i decided to start homeschooling he volunteered to teach one morning a week, so i could sneak away to the closest coffee shop and read or journal or just people watch while i drank a hot cup of coffee in peace. so many times i really don't think that i need the time that is just for me, but after the time i realize that i just heard myself think for the first time since the last time i sat down alone! i don't get to do it every week, but i find the weeks that i don't take time alone, i surprise myself and start to miss it. i think it somewhat funny that my alone time is in a crowded coffee shop surrounded by people rather than in complete solitude. i guess that is just how i roll - alone with other people around.

i hear so many people telling moms of young children how they need to make sure to take care of themselves and their own needs so they can be better wives and moms. for a long time i just thought that to sound selfish (just being honest). but after 10 1/2 years straight of nursing a baby (a year and a half of that nursing two), and almost 6 years of being pregnant... i am realizing that it really is a gift to have a few moments to regroup without a constant audience of children. it really can help a mom be more serving, unselfish, and present with her family. at this point i would encourage all moms, especially those with young kids who tend to be very needy physically and emotionally, to take time to just be by yourself. it doesn't have to look any certain way or even be very often. regardless of your personality, i believe it will refresh you to love deeper and serve more willingly.

i am so thankful for a husband who can see my need before i do, and that he has given me the opportunity to have space. so often it takes me a while when i am alone to even figure out what i want to do with my time, but that is the beauty of it - it is my time. no one is demanding anything of this little window of time and it is completely my choice how i spend it.

do you get time to be alone? how has it benefited you? if you don't, how do you think it might benefit you if you did start spending time alone once in a while?


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