I sit on my favorite rock, looking over the brook, to take time away from busyness, time to be. I’ve long since stopped feeling guilty about taking being time; it’s something we all need for our spiritual health, and often we don’t take enough of it. – Madeleine L’Engle
I’m not sure I know what my being time is or that I even know how to relax. Sure, I can fill my evenings up with doom scrolling, watching random Youtube videos, and puttering around. I can fill my time up with things unrelated to what I need to be doing, pretending I’m relaxing. I do this nearly every evening. Though it gives me some degree of perceived respite from the day, I’m absolutely not relaxed by any of it. Unlike L’Engle, I do feel guilty about resting. I worry that if I were to actually rest, I’d fail at keeping things running. My daily list of the bare minimum is regularly unfinished, much less larger projects. The little specks of mold continue to spread on our bathroom ceiling. Our baseboards haven’t been scrubbed in at least five years. Our house needs to be painted, both inside and out. The bathroom cabinets still bear the marks of a canine desperately trying to escape her confinement. I don’t even know what’s in some of our kitchen cabinets and we still have boxes left to unpack from nearly a decade ago. It isn’t unusual for me to forget to throw out food in the fridge and then attempt to salvage the moment by teaching my kids about fungus and spores. When I’m feeling especially creative, my brain pours out and surrounds me in a semi-circle of papers and pens, books, and coffee cups. Likewise, when I’m overwhelmed by life and the things that hurt me and the ones I love, the plates and fast food wrappers can’t seem to find their way to the sink and the garbage can. Maybe I should make my bare minimum daily list even more minimum. Maybe I should switch to disposable plates and silverware to reduce the inevitable stress pile that will form by my recliner. Maybe I should never use disposable products so I can feel assured of my efforts to conserve the world my children will live in when I’m gone. Maybe I should wake up earlier and maximize my energy before the exhaustion seeps in. Maybe I should fake it until I make it and practice gratitude like so many well-meaning, but misguided people advise me to do. Anxiety has a way of making even the most basic tasks feel monumental, leaving one sapped and dulled. I’m sure there are all sorts of “maybes” I could consider, but whether I should consider them is of more importance. We live in a society that shames those who need to rest and shames those who choose to rest, while also promoting self-care on most magazine covers in the grocery checkout line. There is only so much time in one day. Taking time to rest means something else won’t get done. Are we truly going to support people for taking care of themselves or just use the concept of self-care as another way to criticize them, by reminding them yet again of something they’ve failed to do correctly? If I read a book tonight, sipping a cup of tea, we won’t have clean dishes in the morning. I will have spent some time on myself. I might come a little bit closer to knowing what I need to be. If I don’t read tonight and I eat Haribo Happy Cherries while watching puppies get groomed, forgetting the empty bag beside me when my brain finally stops swirling enough to let me sleep, that would be ok too. If I do neither of those things and leave our kitchen sink spotless, I’d smile and then groan, knowing that it’s shininess is fleeting and chaos returns with the morning. Regardless of how I choose to spend this evening, I am sure that I won’t be any closer to learning how to rest and relax if I do anything tonight out of self-reproach or obligation or worry about how others perceive me. So, that’s where I will begin to learn how to be, by remembering that I’m enough. No matter what anyone tells you, you are enough too.