Finding ‘me time’ benefits everyone

I?ve always been a sucker for the TV sitcom.

As a kid, I would take a bath early on Friday night, get in my jammies and settle in for ABC?s TGIF?a full lineup of kid-friendly sitcoms including ?Step-By-Step,? ?Full House? and ?Family Matters.? My sister and I would sit in our bean bags and laugh at yet another escapade resulting in Steve Urkel?s nasally ?Did I do that??

In college, I remember studying the rhetoric of popular shows and realizing the humor of a sitcom often comes from exaggerated, negative stereotypes stemming from gender, race or relationships.

Because I was engaged and married while still in school, I took a personal interest in dissecting sitcom relationships?particularly that of Debra and Ray Barone from the sitcom ?Everybody Loves Raymond.?

I watched, even laughed, at the outrageous arguments of the Barones, while vowing to have an even-keeled approach to my own marriage. I?d never be a ?crazy Debra.?

That was before I became a sleep-deprived, always-on-call mommy.

While watching a re-run of ?Everybody Loves Raymond,? I was struck by a particular rant by housewife Debra: ?We all know why you didn?t vote for me, Ray. Because you were afraid if I?d win, you might have to get off your butt once in awhile and do something. You want me locked in this house. Your vote (against me) was a vote for slavery.?

Cringe.

Hadn?t I just told a friend that my husband?s life hadn?t changed at all since we had our daughter nine months ago?

Never mind that he has the added pressure of providing for another human. All he has to do is come home and ?play house? for a couple hours before bedtime. I work 24/7 shifts with no distinction between a work week and a weekend. And, I don?t get overtime.

After dwelling on this particular injustice for nearly a week, I did some soul-searching and realized my jealousy grew from a lack of ?me? time. I had begun to see myself as a mommy-martyr. I had entered dangerous territory.

So began a time of research. I was determined to discover what qualifies as ?me? time.

Through the use of the online networking tool, Facebook, I asked moms of different ages what they did for ?me? time. Moms gave answers ranging from attending MOPs, shopping alone or with a friend, spending time reading the Bible or a biblically focused book, exercising or taking a long bath with only earplugs for company.

As one mom said, ?I love my son and husband to death, but it?s nice to get a break every once in a while. A less stressed mom is a happier mom, and that?s better for everyone.?

Agreed. So now I had to discover what would make me a happier mom.

While all the ideas I received were inspiring, I wanted to discover a means to refreshment that fit me.

Shopping stresses me out. Baths are relaxing, but don?t allow enough escape (although I haven?t tried the earplugs). Time with friends is tempting, but what I really needed was complete solitude.

And then I looked at my coffee table. On it was a book I had received for Christmas. I opened the fictitious work and like magic the burdens I had accumulated began to lessen.

Books are ?me.?

Through middle school and high school, the majority of my free time was spent curled up in my bed, door closed, with a book in hand. I was known to begin a novel in the morning, only to finish it before bed.

While I don?t have the luxury to read non-stop anymore, I vow to use some of my daughter?s naptimes to devour fiction.

And I know my family will thank me for making use of ?me? time.

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