M-Om: Mindful Mothering in the RVA — Sacred spaces

RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — The other night I dreamt I was wandering around a hotel. Walking from suite to suite, I noticed there was no lobby and no hallway. There were no rooms, just bathrooms with a lot of bathtubs.  Each time I settled on a bathtub to relax in, I would see another bigger, better bathtub. If this seems strange, it totally was! But it was also oddly exciting. I was alone in a hotel room with not one but an infinite number of bathtubs that promised uninterrupted relaxation. If you think I am making this up for the sake of this blog, I am not. This dream confirmed my realization: I need some alone time.

After a long and exciting summer filled with field trips, beach vacations, and few breaks from my children, I am exhausted. I am so tired that I had a dream about empty rooms and cozy bathtubs. I have hardly had any time to myself. Whenever I do get a small reprieve, I usually feel guilty and search for something to fill that space. Or instead of enjoying my moment of peace, I think about everything I “should” be doing with my free time.

Reflecting on my pre-kid self I realize that I did not appreciate the many quiet moments I had reading a book, or eating a meal. I would sleep until noon on a Saturday, lounge by the pool with just a towel and a magazine, and leave the house without snacks in every extra pocket. Sometimes I give myself a hard time about that but other times I realize that I was just saving up my energy for those days when the well is dry and I can barely put one foot in front of the other like the day I walked around all day with my shirt on inside out. It wasn’t even a t-shirt. It was a nice shirt and it wasn’t those confusing ones that sometimes look like they should be inside out. It was clearly inside out!

When I finally hit the point of exhaustion I try to remedy it with more activity. I’ll go for a run. I’ll hit up the YMCA. Or, I’ll just snack all day or I’ll bake cookies and go on bit of a junk food bender. While the physical activity often helps my mental state it doesn’t really help me rest. The food also makes me feel more tired and just makes me feel bad about myself.

When I finally come to my senses and recognize what I really need to do I finally allow myself to rest. Often times my husband and I are both wiped so some of the ways we actually do recover from our exhaustion include going to bed earlier. It’s hard to turn off the tv, the computer, and the tablets but it must be done. We stop demanding more from ourselves and just try to practice a little mindfulness. We meditate and enjoy the moments with each other and with our children. We leave the dishes in the sink, we leave beds unmade, and do what’s easiest for dinner even if it means we all have cereal. Another thing that works for us is church.

When I was an undergraduate student at VCU I would go into The Cathedral of the Sacred Heart on the edge of Monroe Park right across the street from my dorm. I’m not Catholic but the church was a peaceful place where I could go and sit and just be. I would just be still. The same applies to most Sundays now. Now, we attend All Saints Episcopal Church at the corner of Parham and River Road. We send our kids to the Children’s Chapel, hold hands and sit quietly. Your respite might not be church, it might be another peaceful Richmond spot. There are so many beautiful places to sit with your spouse or alone and rest. Some other favorite spaces to take a quiet, mindful moment are the James River, the gardens at Lewis Ginter, Maymont Park, the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, or a good ol’ Fan bar.

Wherever you choose to take a moment to yourself, know that it is necessary. Don’t judge what you are doing. In order to be good to others, in order to have dreams more exciting than bathrooms, and to be good to yourself, you need to take time for yourself. You need to stop and look around at the beautiful world in order to appreciate it and appreciate the hard work you are doing every day to raise happy, healthy children.

Hi, I’m Anne. Welcome to M-Om: Mindful Mothering in the RVA. Join me on my journey as I find my identity as a mindful mother. Here I will share my thoughts on the challenges of parenting and express gratitude for life and family. I will share interviews with other local moms who approach motherhood in their own way, provide links to parenting articles, and share other personal anecdotes on how these experiences affect my life.

I am a mom to Carson (5), and Charlotte (3), and wife to Chip. I am trained counselor certified by the National Board of Certified Counselors. In my spare time (ha! What spare time?) I enjoy running, reading, writing, meditating and coffee…lots of coffee! 

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