This Mother’s Day weekend I am sitting here munching macadamia nuts, sipping water, and writing. It’s not been the most stress-free of all Mother’s Day weekends; quite frankly, the past two weeks, make that 8 weeks, have had an extra dose of stress heaped upon them. Going from 3 to 4 children while my husband has been away for nearly half of those 8 weeks has antagonized my postpartum emotions more than I would prefer. Friends and family have graciously pointed out all that I am doing and assured me I am shouldering the responsibilities of motherhood very well. I am not so sure. On the surface it may seem like I’m staying strong and managing decently, but I am all too aware of the intense struggle within me to smile, speak gently and do the next thing. And far too often I lose that struggle. I speak harshly, lash out at my husband, bemoan my life, and sob in the shower.
Recently my husband selflessly took all of us with him on one of his work trips. He knew the change of scene and pace would do us all good – and it did. The spontaneous getaway provided me with a chance to try out this “Mommy of 4 under 4” title somewhere other than the house and it gave me some fresh opportunities to reflect on my life as it is. I came home revived and breathing again; my mind and heart had new skips in their steps and a refreshed outlook on how to live well.
I realized that I needed to define my roles rather than letting them define me. I am a woman who is a wife, a mom, a daughter, a sister, a friend, a writer etc., but first and foremost I am myself. I have a personality, interests, and needs that actually enhance my roles rather than harm them, as I had subconsciously assumed. From now on I want to bring my own personal flair into my roles rather than attempting to do everything perfectly by the book. I may not do everything perfectly, but I am perfect for those who love me.
Defining my roles led me to the realization that my peace of mind is essential to a peaceful home. I have been struggling because I believed that the more drained and frazzled I was, the better mom I was being. I thought that my exhaustion was proof I had given all of me to my kids. I also realized that I was taking ‘me’ out of motherhood under the assumption that always sacrificing my interests so I could give 100% of my attention to the children was the best thing for them. This mindset was leading to a subtle resentment towards my marriage as I felt like I needed to choose between investing in it or investing in myself once my responsibilities for the kids were done for the day. Identifying these tendencies in how I viewed my roles as wife and mom is helping me to make some needed adjustments. Some of these adjustments include setting and keeping more personal boundaries for the children; simplifying housekeeping routines to make them more pleasant and reducing how much stuff we have so there is less to maintain; taking time to pause or even follow a few rabbit trails in my day to do something spontaneous, fun or relaxing by myself or with the kids. I am also implementing a morning routine I complete before getting the kids up. This routine pours into me and caters to my personality by allowing me to begin my day with things accomplished.
It goes against my grain to talk about me, myself, and I. It sounds self-focused at best, selfish at worst. However, if I want my loved ones to know they matter, I have to remember that I, as a person created in the image of God, matter too. And because many depend on me, I need to be strong, peaceful, and fully alive. These improvements are fresh off the press for me, but I sincerely hope to be diligent in applying them.