I just recently was offered a free ticket to a Women's Business Symposium here in town. I have to admit at first I really wasn't sure I wanted to go. Yes, technically, I am a working part-time mom now, but that is not where my heart is. When people ask me what I do, I still always say I am a stay-at-home mom that works part-time. Maybe that is a contradiction, but my heart is truly still in my home with my kids and my husband.
To make a long story short, I agreed to go. I had a free ticket after all, and I love the price of free. Not only that though, I wondered if God had something for me in those 6 hours to learn and refresh me in some way.
The main draw of the conference was a woman named Nicole Johnson who is the author of the book entitled Fresh Brewed Life. As she began to speak, I also realized that she was the author of an email I have gotten from several women entitled The Invisible Woman and which is also a book. It talks about men, artisans really, who had spent their entire lives working on cathedrals without receiving any kind of credit for their work at all. She compares this to women who work day in and day out wiping snotty faces, changing poopy diapers, doing dishes, sorting laundry, working a full time job, and carpooling with no recognition. No thank you. It is an encouragement to women who are doing a work which might not be valued by the world, but is valued by God.
She was an incredible speaker, and one of the things she said that really hit me was when she was taking about airplane oxygen masks. She said something like this (I am going to paraphrase), "When you get on an airplane, the flight attendant goes through all of the emergency procedures. Isn't it interesting that they have to remind us every time to put the mask on ourselves first before assisting children or others. Why do they have to tell us that? Because it is not in our nature to attend to our needs first as mothers. We attend to everyone else's needs first and then maybe, if we have time, attend to our own."
Even though it is something I should know as a mom, I find it a challenge to put on my oxygen mask every day, or even worse, every week. I feel like life is so busy sometimes that I am in react mode only quickly hurrying from place to place and activity to activity. Even though I know that if I were to put my oxygen mask on first I would be a better mom, a better wife, a better worker, a better friend, etc., it is exactly what I don't do.
As we drove home from the conference, I realized I was not the only one who had come away from the conference with the oxygen mask as a main point that really struck home. We began to talk about what was our oxygen. My oxygen would be date nights with my husband, sleeping in, quality time or dates with my kids, reading my bible and prayer time, time out with friends, or time by myself such as taking a hot bath or reading a book. When I began to examine my life, however, the majority of those things were few and far between. If my cup is not filled up, how can I fill anyone else up? It is important to have my oxygen. I need to be more conscious of filling my schedule with oxygen from time to time to keep me renewed and fresh, but it is not in my nature.
At the conference, I saw someone that I knew there. She asked me if my part-time company had sent me there. I said, "No". She asked me if I was there to network with other business women. I said, "No". She then asked me, "Well, who are you here representing?" I said, "Myself. I am here representing myself." On this walk as an invisible woman, otherwise known as motherhood, I need to sometimes take a moment and put my oxygen mask on first. I need to refuel and get recentered with God so I can perform to the best of my ability. I want to build something great that no one will probably talk about or remember 100 years from now. God knows, and God sees. My hope is that in finding time for more oxygen in my life that I can do it better.