What Moms Need most is a new series I am so very excited about where I’ll be sharing posts to support moms in the very busiest season of their life.
Here’s the thing: I’m pretty sure there is no one who loves being a mom more than I do. I am crazy in love with my 4 boys and consider it a privilege to be their mom. I’d tell anyone that.
It took me a long time, however, to admit (out loud at least) that sometimes I struggled with feeling like while raising THEM, I was losing a bit of ME.
I’ve had time over the years to wrestle with these thing and to discover both a healthy dose of transformative perspective and some practical tools to help along the way. And now, the year I turn 50, (gulp!) I thought it might be a good time to pass on a little bit of what I have learned. You know, in case anyone out there might relate. (*wink*)
But let me give a little history so we’re all on the same page…
From as far back as I can remember, my greatest dream was to be a wife and a mom. I blame my own parents for that — as my mom was an amazing mother, making her job look easy, and even fun. And my dad? He esteemed my mom’s role as a stay at home mother. Like, seriously. I have countless memories of dad sitting at the dinner table and as we talked and dreamed about all kinds of crazy big ambitions (he’s a dreamer and I love that about him) inevitably he would shift the conversation. I always knew it was coming: “You know, Monica, you can be anything in the world you want to be when you grow up.” (aww) But I knew he wasn’t finished. “But there is nothing you could do that is more important than being a great wife and a mom like your mom is.” My mom would smile or joke, because his words were sincere, but they were also a script we’d heard, a lot. Finally he would always wrap it up the same way: “There is nothing I could do at work…no money I could make that compares to the importance of what your mom does every day for our family.”
I might have pretended to tire of Dad’s speech, but deep down I loved it. It brought me hope and peace.
Many years later it seemed my Dad’s not-so-subtle message was effective, because after meeting Dave I was eager to drop out of graduate school, get married, and start a family. Ever since then I embraced my role as wife to Dave and mom to four sons. There were seasons that I worked outside the home and I almost always worked from home, but motherhood has no doubt been my greatest priority.
And I have no regrets for that. My parents’ values prepared me well to value my role as mother. However, there was no way they could prepare me for the conflicted emotions that began to hit me as I dedicated my days and nights to being a full time, full-on “Mom.” Though it would be years before I said it out loud, the question that ran through my head was: “If I am living my dream, why do I feel like I am losing so much of me? Do I…as a person…even matter anymore?”
So, I wrestled quietly for a long time, feeling a little guilty as I did.
- Was it ok to have passions and dreams…outside of being a mom? Who could I tell that I dreamed of writing, teaching, speaking or traveling? (without a lap child or diaper bag.)
- Did every marriage morph into a mere parenting partnership? Did romance and marital spontaneity have to be a thing of the past?
- I struggled with my ever-changing body, and turned to food more and more for comfort, or out of boredom, companionship, or _____ (fill in the blank) which in turn made me struggle even more. I longed to feel good in my skin, but felt ashamed to make that a priority.
- Why was it so hard to spend time alone with God…It seemed like the kids were out to steal the few peaceful moments I tried to carve out each day, and I was losing the will to keep trying. (“Maybe I’ll get back to daily devotions when my kids are grown.”)
- I had lost touch with old friends and had no idea how to make new ones with a pack of loud, rowdy boys always by my side. It was easier just to stat at home anyways. Maybe I could become an introvert after all.
- Would my home ever be the tidy, welcoming place that I had always imagined, or must I settle for sticky countertops and piles of paperwork that never seemed to be at the top of my list of priorities. Oh how I longed to live in a place that brought me peace. (And oh how I had no idea how to make that happen.)
- I wondered if I could admit that I craved time to myself — not a trip to Costco, but more like a week in a city, far far away. Or in a cabin in the woods. Really, anything. Just time. To be quiet. And still. To find out if there was still a me or if I had lost all of ME while raising all of them.
I didn’t know where to begin with all of this. I didn’t know if these were legit questions or just me being selfish. Or crazy. (or perhaps both.) The truth was, I was so busy caring for everyone else’s needs, I couldn’t see clearly what I needed most.
If you relate to this a little or a lot, then I want you to know you are not alone. In fact, if you’ve been a mom for more than a couple days, then you have most likely gotten out of balance a time or two. The struggle to find healthy perspectives and keep a grip on life inside and outside of motherhood is, well, very real.
Younger moms have turned to me, honestly sharing their own feelings. Women have shared with me — over coffee, or in text messages or through blurry eyes at a prayer meeting:
“I feel like I’ve completely lost myself.”
“I don’t like who I’ve become.”
“I just didn’t realize how all consuming this season would be.”
And a recent text message that keeps coming back to me: “My friends and I all agree we don’t even know what our favorite color is anymore…ALL we are now is ‘Mom!'”
Well ladies, I get it. I do. I get it because I remember feeling all of that at some point or another. And I get it because still today, living a whole, balanced, life is a daily challenge.
It took me a long time to realize that though God did call me to love my children sacrificially, He was not asking me to lose all the other parts of ME. His Word is filled with promises and encouragement for our kids and for US MOMS. I learned to believe that I am His workmanship, created for good works. (Eph. 2:10) I can cast my cares on the Lord, because He cares for me. (1 Peter 5:7) As I trusted God’s Word more and more, I developed clarity and perspective. I became healthier, set boundaries, and began to believe God could use me in a multitude of ways. (We’ll talk about how that looked in a future post!) As I shared in the first chapter of Boy Mom, I began to parent with more dignity and less emotion. And, my friends, that’s a very good thing. 🙂
Over time I learned to shift my perspective and seek out practical solutions to lighten my load. I learned to recognize negative thought patterns and correct them. When I caught myself rehearsing lies I learned to replace them with truth. I’ve come a long, way and today? Today I can say that taking care of myself has not just been good for me, it is one of the greatest gifts I have given my children.
And now, because I care so very much about those of you walking with me (or maybe a few steps behind) in this journey of motherhood, I am so excited to share this new series:
What Moms Need Most: Taking care of YOU, as you take care of everyone else.
In this series I will address, one at a time, some of the most common areas we women tend to struggle to maintain balance and perspective in the midst of the busiest years of our life. Things like: weight, health and fitness, romance/marriage, spiritual growth, friendships, home/life organization, work (inside or outside the home,) personal development, and self care. I’ll share from my experience, and from others who have inspired me. I’ll share practical tools, Biblical wisdom, and life-giving perspectives.
Will you join me?
Comment below: I’d love to hear from you if any of these topics resonate with your season of life. What is your greatest challenge? Which topic do you need the most? Share a little or share a lot. I read every comment and I truly care.
I’ll try to publish a post from this series every week or two over the next couple months! You can always return to this post for links to the each post in the series!
PART I: Moms Need Intentional Perspective
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My book, BOY MOM, was released in August of 2019 (Waterbrook Multnomah Publishers) and is full of practical advice and helpful resources for raising boys. It’s a great study for small groups!