Where Do I Fit In To All of This?
Kind of tagging along to my last blog post about the price of motherhood…the next question in my head is, “where do I fit in to all of this in the grand scheme of things.” Who am I now? How can I find the old me in my new identity. I think we all agreed that once you cross the line of going into motherhood, there’s no backing out of it. You’re there forever. So, how do you hold on to a little of that carefree attitude you once embraced? Or how do you remove yourself from the insanity of it all? How do you let your guard down? How can you relax and just be “you.”
The thing is…I don’t quite have an answer for you. I do know that I’m not really supposed to escape my identity of mother, though. I know that may sound really sad or the exact opposite of what culture tells us these days. Culture tells us that you have to come before your children ALWAYS. And I just don’t buy it. I may want to put me before the kids all the time, but that’s not what I signed up for. I signed up to raise children to be the best that they could be. I didn’t have children to make me the best that I can be. I definitely wanted children to fill that “I want children” void. Of course. But, when you say you want to be a mother or a father, it’s putting your top priorities to the side and making your babies your top priority. I think most people will agree at least partially with me right now. Whether you’re a stay-at-home mom or a working mom. Children need to be your TOP priority. They have to be. You may tell me, “but I’m a better mom if I work out.” “I’m a better mom if I get out of the house in the morning, and let them run around somewhere.” “I’m a better mom if take a little me time every day.”
Now, let me tell you first, before you get all mad at me. These are things I tell my husband or a friend every day. I’m taking these from my very own head and typing them on this page. I’m not ragging on someone else, so if you think I am…well…we just have the same excuses! The thing is, what will make you (and me) a better mom is waking up with the attitude of grace for our children, and changing our attitude from, “I have to do x,y, and z BEFORE ANYTHING ELSE” to “How can I teach my child empathy? How do I show my child they come before my morning cup of coffee…before my morning run…before I yell at them to get in the car, because I just have to get out of the house.”
We really do have to lose ourselves in order to take on this new identity as a mother. It’s no ordinary job. You don’t have to apply for it. You don’t have to dress up in fancy clothes to go talk to someone and ask their permission for you to become a mother. We decide for ourselves that we want to take on this daunting job. If there was one thing someone could have told me before coming a mother, it wouldn’t be “sleep while you can” or “enjoy being DINKS (dual income no kids)” or “travel while you aren’t tied down” or “have as much crazy sex as you can, because it’ll all change.” I would tell a woman that she has to be prepared to change how she thinks about life. There’s no way around it. Your thought process has to change. It doesn’t mean that there won’t be a hard day or you won’t want to throw your kid out of a window one day (or several). But, you’ll be prepared for that heart change. You’ll be prepared to lay your self down and turn those crappy situations around a little easier. You’ll remember your God given role for this specific time.
Like I said. NOT A PRO HERE. Most days, I’m so ready for Kevin to come home so he can entertain the kids while I go have some me time with a glass of wine and solitude. And there are so many days where I yearn for less anxiety and less responsibility. I’m a complete work in progress, but on those days, I’m trying to remind myself that my girls are priority. My exercise is no longer my first priority. My coffee is not my first priority (that’s when I really have to start praying). My “me time” is not my first priority. Hallen and Hazel are too new to this world to have a grumpy, yelling, frustrated mother to try and guide them, and coffee just ain’t gonna fix that temper of mine!
So how do I find myself through that? I cry a little and then I pray a little. I should probably reverse that order, but tears just come so quickly! I have to remind myself that being carefree doesn’t equal joy. Having no responsibility doesn’t equal freedom. Having no anxiety doesn’t automatically equal happiness. I think too often when times get tough, we find ourselves reminiscing on only the good parts of how it used to be. So, most of the times, my whining is…”ughhhh I just want to sleep through the night. Why can’t my kid sleep? I wish I could go back to the college days when I thought waking up for 8am classes was tough.” Waking up at 7:30 to make it to an 8am class sounds so darn tough, doesn’t it? I have to refocus my thoughts, when they start to change my mood for the worse, though. I have to remind myself, ” but wait…I was so insecure with myself in college. I had an eating disorder. I was a perfectionist. I didn’t have my wonderful, caring husband. I was bar hopping until 3 or 4am!” All of that sounds pretty terrible right now! I think I’ll take a few sleepless nights to wake up beside the same man every morning and my girls’ sweet smiles (even at 2am).
There’s a verse in the Bible that says, ” do everything without complaining…” Most days I just pretend that verse isn’t there or it’s not meant for motherhood. Jesus wasn’t a mom! He doesn’t really know! Right? How can I not complain when my kids aren’t listening to me or when I’m only getting by on 5 cups of coffee and 20 minutes of sleep? Don’t I deserve to complain?! Don’t I deserve a vacation every month? Well…no. Actually I don’t deserve anything. Yeah, it may suck to never get a day off and always be “on call” at night. It screws with emotions and marriages and your sense of self. I get it. I’m in the midst of all of that right now. All of this is definitely preaching to the choir. Because most of my thoughts (besides all the terrifying, anxiety producing ones) begin with, “but..I deserve it!”
I’m not even sure I answered my own question. And I think it’s because I’m still trying to figure it out right alongside the rest of you. I’m not saying to not go and get your nails done or stop exercising. Sometimes you really do just have to put your kid in another room and walk away. The truth is, you do need to go grab a glass a wine with some girlfriends once in a while to rekindle that carefree spirit, go get a mani/pedi in peace, or join a book club to have an adult activity in your week. All of that stuff isn’t bad (in fact, many of you are going to tell you that that’s what makes you a great mother). You just can’t do it with the mindset that it’s going to change everything. I can’t just do it with the mindset that it’s going to fix the constant whining that’s driving me to throw things across the room.
Finding you in the midst of motherhood looks totally different than what it did back in high school or college. I know women who become radiant through motherhood and I can see their hearts so clearly. This doesn’t happen overnight, though. These women are generally older and wiser. They’ve been through the ringer with their children and could probably teach me a lot!
We have to take our job as mothers seriously, though. Having your mama tribe is a must for those hard days when you don’t know what to do or how to act. And letting those women speak truth into your difficult moments helps you to survive. Those women may just help you find you by encouraging you along the way and helping you to become to best mother you can be for your children. Doubting yourself is bound to come (by the day, in my case), but knowing that you and only you can guide your children in the right direction is really powerful when you think about it. You may not have the most full social calendar or be seen at all the parties anymore, but it doesn’t mean your work doesn’t matter or is unseen. Those little eyes see all, and those little ears hear all whether we want them to or not.
I really want to end this by saying you need to schedule at least one thing a week to kind of have a breather of sorts, but then that’d be an oxymoron to everything I just wrote… even though, I’d love a scheduled girls’ night once a week! That sounds fabulous. Instead, I’ll just end by saying, yes…please schedule things with friends, plan dates with your hubby, go get your nails done, go on a run without the running stroller, but just remember you won’t be “finding yourself” through those outlets. They’re just really great things to do alone! The kiddos always come first now, and that mental shift has to be made so you can see that you are the most important puzzle piece in all of the chaos.
If anyone has tips on how you’ve been able to “find yourself” through motherhood or keep a sense of yourself through motherhood, please feel free to share.
Both my top and jeans are from a local boutique, Apricot Lane
Jewelry is from Starfish Project (they help women who escaped trafficking. AMAZING organization)
Boots are from Sole Society
Leo: Alice and Ames
Necklace/Bow collab: Emma Jane Designs
Headband: Daddy Said Yes Boutique
Pants: Little Nugget Knits (use code HANDH10)
Paci Clip : Templeton Silver