Reading is not a guilty pleasure

Do you ever feel like everything you do must benefit your family in some tangible way?

I feel this way all the time! Sometimes I wonder how I got to this point…

Remember those first few months of motherhood? They were brutal for some of us. You are laying down your life for that newborn every waking moment of the day.

Feeding, changing, rocking, cuddling, reading, singing…

When you’re not with the baby, you’re cleaning, folding laundry, washing dishes, and trying to stay awake.

There are no breaks.

You tell yourself, “When the baby is older, then I’ll have more time.”

And you do. Sort of. But not really…

Instead of changing diapers, you’re answering questions like “What do beetles eat?” and “How do they make glitter?” You’re packing lunches. You’re dealing with criminal acts of sibling conflict. You’re chauffeuring your kids (and the kids of complete strangers…how did that happen?) to various classes and clubs. And the Chores of the World never go away.

I don’t know about you, but those first few months of motherhood, when I was giving everything I had to my baby, they sorta turned me into a Mommy Martyr. 

I felt like if I wasn’t pouring every last ounce of energy into my kids, then I was doing something wrong.

If my kids were awake, then I was there for them. Only when they were sleeping did I pull out my knitting, roll out my yoga mat, or crack open my book.

This was not good for me.

What I didn’t realize was that my kids need to see me doing things that I enjoy.

Yes, my job is to love and serve my family. But that doesn’t mean I must abandon all personal pursuits that don’t benefit them directly. (That’s the slippery slope to self-pity and martyrdom.)

In fact, it’s okay for me to show my family that I’m my own separate person with hobbies and interests of my very own. That I don’t live for those moments when I get to wash dishes and empty the lint trap.

I enjoy reading books. It’s something I’ve always enjoyed (qualm-free). Now that I’m a wife and mom, it shouldn’t get demoted to a guilty pleasure.

In fact, it’s a saving grace. 

(It’s not THE saving grace of Jesus Christ and His atonement on the cross. Of course not!)

But it’s a saving grace in the idiomatic sense. It redeems our weary souls from the constant, fierce pressure of life. 

God knew we’d need the saving grace of His Son to redeem our immortal souls. But, in the meantime, while we’re still here on earth, He instituted a weekly “saving grace.”

The Sabbath. 

Reading is like a small Sabbath, providing relief from the relentless forward march of life.

It’s regular, just like the Sabbath.

It saves our sanity, just like the Sabbath.

And, it’s unearned, just like the Sabbath. 

Did you catch that?

You can’t earn a Sabbath. It comes round every week whether you deserve it or not.

So, here’s the point (okay, two points):

  • When I’m reading books, I feel like myself. By doing something that I enjoy, I set the example for my family. In this home, we can all openly do the things that we enjoy. (Life isn’t just work, work, work.)
  • Reading forces me to create a circle of quiet where I can do something that’s meaningful to me for the sheer pleasure of it.

It’s been good for me.

I sincerely hope that you discover how good it is for you, too.

Let me know in the comments what reading books adds to your life. Why do you choose it over other pastimes?

More along these lines…

1 Comment

  1. Amaya Genaro

    Hi Michelle,
    I am amazed at how you put all of this together! So proud of you! I ordered my first book – The Nature of Fragile Things.
    I always loved to read but ended up reading all business related books and relegated my pleasure reading to once a year on a vacation or when I retire!!
    Can’t wait to get started. Now that I am parenting at 60 I really tuned in to your thoughts on making sure our kids see us doing things we enjoy. I have been spending every waking moment at work and when home devoted totally to Alexis. I am exhausted. Thank you for your encouragement my dear niece. I love you!!! Auntie A


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