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"Go brush your teeth...

... and go potty.”

 

I’ve been saying those words almost every afternoon for the past eight years. And, let’s be honest, it’s on my list of most favorite things to say. Right under “Daddy’s home!!!”

 

Why? Well, for a couple reasons: 1) I know those days are numbered, and I’ll miss saying it! And 2) Because if I’m saying those miraculous words, that means it’s naptime in our home.

 

Shhh… don’t tell the kiddos, but it’s also always followed by a mental “Hallelujah!”

 

I remember for a handful of years, following the birth of my first son, social media was blooming and my naptime reprieve would be spent in super-spy-mode, checking on Facebook friends.

 

I’d read posts, shocked and horrified when a mother would beg and plead to be rid of her children:

 

“Ahhh! I can’t wait until bedtime!”

“Someone come take these rowdy children! Mama needs a break.”

“Wine.”

 

I’d tiptoe to my son’s room and silently wish he’d hurry and wake up so I could be near him more.

 

No, I wasn’t certifiably insane back then… just a little naïve is all ;)

 

Fast-forward a number of years and two more boys later. Oh, right, and the decision to homeschool said three boys.

 

Mama. Needs. A. Break.

 

The worst of it is… friends, I’d lost myself at some point. I’d forgotten all about me somewhere during the all-encompassing task of wife- and motherhood. I clawed at and scrambled through life, thinking I was doing all the right things. I’d been successful, sure. A successful homeschooling mother. A successful photographer. A successful children’s book distributor. But in the end, none of that mattered because I wasn’t a successful me.

 

Mid-year, 2017, my entire world turned upside down when I caught an infectious disease from a sweet little puppy we’d decided to add to our family. The disease almost killed me… the puppy wasn’t as fortunate as I was.

 

The months that followed were a very trying time for our family. But instead of breaking us down, those challenges fortified us. We became a stronger unit. And we all became stronger individually too.

 

Especially me. But first, my body went into shock. I struggled… bad.

 

Books became my escape.

 

Slowly… through the power of imaginary worlds, I learned how to appreciate myself again. How to put myself on a higher pedestal.

 

Books changed my life ­— and quite possibly saved it too — and I decided I wanted to return the favor. I wanted to tap into those imaginary worlds myself and empower other women, the way I felt empowered after reading.

 

On September 13, 2017, I turned on my computer and wrote the words that started my first novel “To be unlike anyone else; to be unique — different…” and I never looked back.

 

Naptimes have taken on a whole new meaning for me now. Naptimes are about me. Because I am worth it. And you know what? I can still mentally scream “Hallelujah!”, and doing so doesn’t in any way undermine my love for my children. But not taking that break, and not appreciating it, does undermine my love for myself.

 

So to any woman (hey, men too, really!) who might feel like they’re drowning. Take a break. Pick up a good book. And treat yourself like the important human being you really are.

Adieu for now, I’ve gotta run. It’s naptime, and I have another book to write!