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A Pause in the Day of a Parent

By Sheryl Paul
May 07, 2010

It's essential to find a few minutes to nurture yourself in the middle of a busy day caring for kids, work, and others.

Central to the pattern of transitions is the pause. The pause is the liminal stage (in-between zone) that lives between the letting go and the new beginning. The pause is winter, the fallow time, the state of no-thing and nothing from which the new identity and life stage takes root and comes to life

One of the hardest sacrifices we make when we become parents is this pause, also known as time to ourselves, endless time to hang out, time to be. Gone is the luxury of taking a “personal day” and snuggling up under blanket for hours with a good book and a couple of movies. Unlike every other job on the planet, there are no sick days and no vacation time. With kids, you have to keep going no matter what.

There have been times when I’ve felt so depleted emotionally, physically, and spiritually that it’s felt like I would need a month on a tropical island – without my kids – to replenish. My friend Lisa in California once suggested the idea of putting our kids on freeze-frame so that we could escape for a couple of weeks without missing any of their lives. But as a month away and freeze-frame are both impossibilities, I’ve had to find those moments in the day that fill me up again. As my friend Carrie often reminds me when I’m feeling overwhelmed by the demands of kids, home, and work, it doesn’t take much to replenish. A weekly yoga class goes a long way. A massage once a while does wonders. A walk alone can fill my inner reservoir like nothing else.

But sometimes a yoga class or a massage or even a walk alone fail to happen. There are times when I need to replenish right now. It’s then that I take my kids outside, set them up so that they’re contained for the moment  (swinging on the swings or digging in the sandbox), and then I consciously separate from them – both physically and energetically – and focus inward.

I turn my face to a warm patch of sun and breathe.

Within moments, the sounds of nature enter me: the rushing creek, the hundreds of red-winged blackbirds thrilling their spring song.

Gratitude replaces the script of “never enough time” that can take over my brain. The sun warms the icy places within. I breathe deeply. I pause. For the moment, I’m at peace again. Even if it’s only a five or ten minute pause, I return to my children renewed, momentarily replenished by nature’s nourishing embrace, and ready to be a mother again.


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