Kate Moreland reflects on how the modern idea of “self-care” is missing a critical component.
“Filling your cup.”
“Care for yourself so you can care for others.”
These are all phrases that exemplify the same idea. They show the importance of keeping our inner selves intact, not just in our identity as mothers, but also just as our innate persons. However, what they fail to understand is that the inner self does not need care for itself; it needs to care for its soul.
If the soul is dry and barren, the whole self will feel the same. If the soul is well cared for and focused on the Lord, then it will be able to care for others and be a filled cup that can pour out to the rest of the family. When we yearn for some self-care time, what we are really feeling is drained, tired, empty, frazzled, lost … we all know the feeling.
That feeling is very rarely related to our bodily needs, however. Despite the exhaustion that a newborn or sick child can bring on, that is usually a temporary phase and most times the grace is given that allows us to push through. No one ever notes this, but I am sure that ability to endure should qualify mothers as superheroes. What these feelings come from are a lack of connection with the Lord.
When I wake up at five in the morning after a late and interrupted night, the last thing I want to do is exercise. In fact, words can hardly describe how much I loathe it. But I know that if I just push through, even for a scant fifteen minutes, I will feel more energized, more coherent, and proud of myself. So I do it, even though I want nothing but sleep. I am a better wife and mother for the effort.
It is the same for giving of our time to the Lord when we just want five minutes peace to watch a show and turn our brains off. However, if we trust Him enough to give Him the time we would rather have to ourselves, He will reimburse us tenfold.
I am not saying that you must pray every spare minute of your day—that is the vocation for some, perhaps, but not us mothers. Leisure is good for the body, mind, and soul. What I advocate, is instead of diving into the bubble bath or bottle of wine, make sure you have given your free time to the Lord first. Tithe your time, and He will make sure you have enough time later for your own pursuits.
I can attest to this personally. When I do my Bible listening (Bible in a Year, anyone?!) and my daily spiritual reading first thing in the morning, I often either have enough time for my leisure reading or enough mental energy that I don’t find myself needing the chill time that day. If you feed the soul, the body is also fed. We give the first fruits of our income to the Lord, and if we do the same with our time, He will bless it just as much!
Mamas, I know how tiring that very concept seems. “Give my time to one more person? Are you kidding?” Hear me out. Start looking at your self-care time. Does it lead you higher spiritually, helping you to value your vocation and children, or does it encourage the eye-rolling, sarcastic, dear-God-save-me-from-these-kids feeling? If the former, keep it up. If the latter, reconsider it.
Have your Bible before your wine, and if you haven’t yet given the Lord any time before you put the lavender drops into your bath, turn on an audio version of the daily readings while you soak. He knows you are burnt out sometimes and He only asks for what you have. If that is five minutes of a podcast where someone else reads the Bible to you, great! If it is an hour of focused study of Aquinas, that’s great too! Do what you can, but do something, and avoid the trap of waiting until the end of the day. Make a goal to tell the Lord all your thoughts before bedtime, so that when you fall into bed, you have very little left to discuss with Him.
Self-care is not soul care, but soul care is definitely self-care. It revitalizes your inner self even more than hyaluronic acid revitalizes your baggy eyes. Pour into your soul first, and then you will be able to pour yourself into your marriage and family.
Copyright 2023 Kate Moreland
About the Author
Kate Moreland is a graduate of Franciscan University who spends her time homeschooling her five sons. Writing is her way to share her many opinions with someone other than her very patient husband. When not teaching or cleaning up after various people and animals, she enjoys grocery trips alone and frequently-interrupted discussions about family, parenting, and faith. Find her at her LinkTr.ee @kate.more.land.