My daughter Susanna and I traveled to the UK in December of 2019. Susanna graduated with her BSN (Bachelor of Science in Nursing) and asked if I would go with her on a celebratory trip. I ensured that my amazing husband would be alright with this first, because there are still six children at home and he would go it alone. He enthusiastically supported the adventure.
I think most Moms underestimate their need for restoration. We manage with the bits of time we get, with our prayer and worship time, but I think most of us run on fumes for extended periods and that is not healthy in the long-run. Over the years I have read books on how to organize and manage life. From corporate experts to Mom-managers no one book held the key. I realized that my strategy necessitated adaption of advice with each child born, with each life change.
Some women scoffed at aspects endorsed by certain published Moms. It was expressed that these authors took too much time for themselves, turned self-care into an excuse to authorize over-indulgence, went back to school at the expense of their family needs, and more. Why do we judge each other? Being a Mom is hard enough without navigating the stormy waters of negativity and criticism. We each have a unique life to be lived and, God-willing, with faith, love and support we will become that “best version of ourselves.” Why seek that version? So that we can live happily ever after? Rather, so that we can make this world a better place by helping others the best we can. In so-doing we find joy.
Part of my “self-care” was happened upon inadvertently. In 2010 I was nursing my youngest baby. I had a cup of tea, Bruce was getting all the bigger ones to bed, and I turned on the television. I saw something on the PBS channel about an Abbey. We lived in a stone house built by Benedictine Monks in the late 19th Century, full of history and stories. I imagined this might be interesting for a few minutes until baby Margaret succumbed to sleep. A few minutes? I was entranced by the art of Julian Fellowes and the world he created. Through the years I have watched and rewatched all six seasons of Downton Abbey and have seen the movie more times than I will admit.
I have never re-watched a show that many times. Not even close. I have always loved period dramas, and I could easily elaborate in a researched essay to prove that Downton Abbey was the finest culmination of its kind, but that is not the point. For some women their favorite escapes are detective mysteries, sci-fi movies, zombie apocalypse shows or “other-world” fantasies. For others, no television is involved. Playing the piano, watching the sunset from the back porch, or taking a long jog could be just what is needed to recharge the batteries of a worn soul.
Susanna and I visited some of the filming locations of the Downton Abbey series and movie. They were beautiful and we learned that some had been used in other films. Highclere Castle was once the filming location of a vampire movie. The village of Lacock, where the movie parade was filmed, was also used in the Harry Potter movies. England is so full of varied and intricate beauty, much like the hidden gems within each woman.
We had a wonderful time and it was surprisingly just what I needed. I feel restored and thankful. Don’t wait thirty years to treat yourself in some way. It may not be as grand as a trip to Europe. Go to a museum, walk in the park, write your story or paint your watercolor. Do it regularly. You are worth it, and those who depend on you need you whole. A psychologist once told me that we often put our cup at the bottom of the fountain, allowing for others to fill first. Yet if we place it just-so in the middle then our cup overflows, filling cups which would otherwise not even reach the waters.