The first thing I want to type here is this: the family in these photos is so very joyful and caring. I've never left a party with pocketsful of Necco wafers (absolute favorite childhood candy, tied with Bottle Caps) but I was given the most delightful, sacrament-themed bag of goodies as I left this one. Just wonderfully inspiring and sweet.
The second thing I want to type here is that there are certain things I do when Edith is napping and certain things I never do when Edith naps. It has to do with how much I appreciate talking with people who have children and interests. That's redundant, you're thinking. Everyone has children and interests. But what I love is talking to mothers about how they exercise their talents while still offering their time and availability first to their children.
Here's a sliver of truth from my life to help me say what I mean: There are certain things I never, ever, EVER. do when Edith is napping. Here are some examples.
DO: Make a cup of coffee (at a nice clip, so as to get to the sitting and drinking) and possibly have something special to nibble.
DON'T: Do any of the lunch dishes. Not even moving crumbs (all 7 million since Edith has taken to perfecting her fine motors by breaking apart her sandwich bread into microscopic bits).
DO: Read something spiritual, read (not leaf thru) a magazine, journal, craft or any other contemplative activity that I might do while sitting on the most peaceful and enjoyable plane ride I've ever been on.
DON'T: Do any boring bill-paying or un-fun list checking-off (unless it would cost us our livelihood...we tend to procrastinate and the bank takes deadlines seriously, we've found). This definitely means no laundry folding.
DO: Snack on something, but only if I'm absolutely dying of hunger (or if there are baked goods in arm's reach).
DON'T: Make any elaborate meal, unless I'm starving.
DO: Watch the Great British Baking Show.
DON'T: Watch a movie that is going to make me feel like an emotional mess whose length is risky and may not even fit into Edith's nap time anyhow, thus leaving me in the predicament where I need to have her watch overstimulating TV while I finish the last 40 minutes of Jane Eyre, which I'll feel very guilty about afterwards and have difficulty finding the motivation to make dinner.
My reasoning behind most of this is that I typically DON'T do things that I can do while Edith is awake, especially things she will enjoy. For example, she loves doing dishes with me because she likes playing with the water. She likes sitting at the table while I pay a quick bill because she likes to draw on scrap paper. She likes to fold laundry with me because she's obsessed with putting on all of her (and my) clothes.
I typically DO try to do things that are going to energize me for the evening ahead. If I can find a moment of inspiration or laughter or filling adult conversation during Edith's nap time, I find that I can be a much better mom to her, wife to Tim, and person all around.
This is just my balance for this moment - I'm sure when we have #2 or when Edith moves into another developmental phase or something, I'll have to reassess.
My point is, though, I love talking to moms about this kind of thing. It answers this question: how do you stay filled up so you can pour yourself out? It's a hard one, and it's one I'll love trying to pursue a good solution for throughout the ever-changing seasons of life.
I had a wonderful little conversation about this with the mom of the boys in these photos, and it made me want to go home and keep working to find that good balance. It's so wonderful to leave anywhere feeling encouraged.