January 3rd: How can I sort out wants and needs?

Ever felt like you’ve needed a vacation from your vacation? As I’ve said before, I’m a teacher. Tomorrow is the last day of a two-week winter “break.” Around my house, we put the “Happy” in Happy Holidays! Here’s a run-down: My in-laws came in mid-December for a nearly three-week stay–yes–with us. That night we kicked off eight nights of fried potatoes, jelly donuts, and chocolate money. I may have grown up Protestant, but Hanukah is my kind of holiday! (And to my family, now you know the real reason I converted–the parties!) So by the time my family, Jewish in-laws in tow, donned our paper hats and sat down at my parents table to our prime-rib Christmas dinner, I could barely fit into my tier-two skinnies. The revelry (and shopping) continued through the New Year. Now, I’m not talking about the merry-making of my twenties, but for a thirty-something mom of three under four, a couple of glasses of wine and socializing until 9:00 or 10:00 most evenings could reasonably be called over-doing it.

I woke up this morning completely exhausted from my vacation. I knew it was time to take stock. I’d had everything I wanted out of my vacation over the past two weeks. How could I possibly feel so drained?

My first impulse was to retreat: to turn on Saturday morning cartoons and tune out to the usual clamor in my living room. But then something lucky happened. My friend from down the street texted to see if we’d like to join her and her kids at the playground. I realized that I hadn’t had my kids outside in over two weeks! The fresh air was just what we needed. When we got home, my husband unpacked the light lunch he’d picked up, helped feed the kids, and PUT THEM DOWN TO NAP! I love you, husband, I thought, as I drifted off to my own two-hour slumber. I awoke to my well-rested brood and a phone call–did we want to join another family at the mall for some kids play place and food court Chinese? Absolutely!

As we put our tired-out (as opposed to run-down) kids down to sleep tonight, I realized that in pursuit of wants, I’d neglected some basic needs of self-care, not just for me, but for my family: nourishing food, fresh air, exercise, rest, friendship (not just socializing), and grateful acceptance of the simple gifts of a loving spouse. As my vacation draws to a close, I’m asking, how can I get a little bit more of what I need?

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