I was never one of those young girls who dreamed about getting married and having babies. That idea barely crossed my mind as I worked my way through high school and made plans for college. So no one was more surprised than I was when I met my future husband and began to yearn for all of those things I had never let myself want. I began to dream of being married and having babies and staying home loving on my little ones.
Soon after getting married, four months to be exact, we found out we were expecting our precious Lily. So dreams were starting to come true and excitement was in full swing. It was beautiful. I never felt closer to my hubby than when we were trying to pick baby names, decorating the nursery, and praying for our baby girl. When she was born I decided to take another year off of school and take care of her full time.
It was lovely. For a while. But motherhood is harder than anyone tells you, and much more lonely at times too. Don’t get me wrong, it’s an amazing journey that I wouldn’t give up for a second. That doesn’t make it any less challenging though. If you stay inside too long holding that precious bundle of joy without finding a way to feed your need to be a woman as well as a mother you will soon start feeling the full weight of your new identity. I have never been one who is easily satisfied with staying home and watching Disney movies all day. I have a need for adventure, new experiences, and social interaction that cannot be met simply by going to the occasional mommy group when Lily lets me get out of the house without being covered in puke.
The best advice one of my older mom friends gave me before I gave birth to Lily was to remember that while I was always going to be her loving mother, I needed to keep an identity outside of that as well. To find a way to feed that part of myself that longed for more than wiping boogers, kissing boo boo’s, and singing bed time songs. Because let’s face it ladies, the blessing of becoming a mother may change you in ways you could never imagine, but it doesn’t change the fact that you are a woman first and foremost. Your dreams may change as soon as you see that beautiful babe swaddled up in the hospital blanket; they may start to revolve more and more around that precious little one than around a career and running marathons and writing books. But if you give up on everything you dreamed of in order to make all your children’s dreams come true, you will not be a complete woman or the mother they really need.
Bear with me please. I am not one of those women who adhere to the idea that if mom is unhappy than so is everyone else. I think that kind of mindset is extremely unhealthy and selfish. Your husband and children should not have to bear the brunt of your anger, frustration, or sadness at the cost of their own happiness and comfort. What I am saying though, is that you deserve to be happy too, outside of being wife and mother. To find what feeds your soul and nurture it so that your happiness can flourish into a light that your family sees and feels every day.
For me that is a combination of prayer, fellowship with friends, working out, school, and hobbies such as scrap booking, blogging, and sewing. All of these things help me when I need to decompress or escape from the monotony of our every day routine. No one knows how exhausting a routine can be more than a mother. The most important thing I’ve found to feed my heart is prayer. When I am drawing close to God, pouring out my heart to the only one who knows all of my feelings and never makes me feel guilty for having them; when I am pursuing the only one who can really make me feel complete as a woman, I find that I can embrace the duties of motherhood with all of the joy and love that Lily needs from me.
The truth is simple, I am not just a mother. It has taken a while for me to learn that there is value in embracing one’s identity outside of being a wife and mother, but since I have begun to find the things that make my heart happy alongside loving my husband and Lily, I have realized to my astonishment that I can love them even more fully than before. Wanting to be happy and fulfilled does not make me a bad wife or mother. God didn’t create marriage and motherhood to complete our hearts, He already promises to do this for us. If we find our joy outside of those roles as well as in them, if we find joy in serving God, fellow shipping with friends, and pursuing activities that make us happy, then we will be that much better suited to our roles as wives and mothers.
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