Note: While I write about motherhood, I do so because I myself am a mom. I do realize that there are dads out there who are involved in their families lives and play an active role and who might relate to some of these topics. My intention is not to exclude them, but simply to speak from my personal experience, which involves giving birth and being a mom. However, my topics are not mother-exclusive. So, if that’s you (you’re a dad), and you relate to what I am talking about, I am so glad! This blog is also for you!
The idea of motherhood has changed so much over the years. Gone are the days of simplicity, where our main concerns were the need to feed, clothe and protect our children. We don’t live in a place where we gather firewood, water and our main concern is cooking food for the day. We have iPhones, social media, kids programs, school, jobs, careers to pursue, or maybe entrepreneurial pursuits. There’s also meal planning and budgeting, play dates and anything else you can think of. We can fill our time so easily, we can pack it full, and we are good at it. Being busy is something we love.
For many families in the world today, both parents need to work. For some, even if mom’s don’t need to, they want to. They then choose to, either for the extra income or because they like to, or maybe they are even pursuing a career. Whichever story is dependant on the person, and either story is great. However, one thing I’ve learned as a personal lesson, is that in these early years, motherhood and being busy is not ideal.
Many women I know, including myself, love having a packed schedule. We love having things to do, organizations or events to be a part of. We want to be involved. For some of us, being home with the kids is not enough and we have to do more. Sometimes we forget how to say no when our schedules get too full. While, at the same time, we lack the community to make up for it. Our lives are separated into yours and mine.
Many of us are doing this whole motherhood thing mostly alone.
Even out in public, it’s hard to find anywhere where mom’s look out for each other. We are more likely to be scrutinized than supported.
In my life, since I’ve had my oldest, the challenges have been many and varying. However, many of you know how one of my main obstacles, has been how busy I’ve been. Sometimes I take on too much.
With motherhood comes a whole lot of stress all on its own, apart from filling your time. That stress ranges from the day to day dealings of having children, to worrying about a whole lot of things that haven’t even happened. Everyone manages the stress differently, but make no mistake that it’s there. The more that I personally have on my plate, the worst that stress is, and the more it affects my parenting.
How do you define motherhood? The dictionary says its “a state of being.” That makes sense, but what does that include? A mother is a chef, maid, chauffeur, cheerleader, mediator, referee, grocery shopper, budget runner, encourager, teacher, creative instructor, director, captain, stylist,and so many more things.
Being a mother is really and truly enough. Running a household and raising children in our world is no joke. It’s privatized, its your job, and you will never do it right. We as moms, as parents, are doing a lot already!
Everyone has a certain level of capacity, and I love challenging myself. However, I’ve had to learn that its important to remember that there is a fine line between stretching your capacity, and overwhelming it. It’s so important to know where your limits are, and to know that those limits are ok. (I talk more about some thoughts on capacity in Try Living Life in My Shoes).
How Much is Too Much?
When you are trying to decide how much to take on, knowing your season can play a big part. Are you filled up and ready to pour into other people? Or do you need to take a season of rest? Are you being stretched or do you feel thinned out? Are there external circumstances that are affecting you emotionally, physically, mentally?
If you are doing more… school, a job, any other commitment. Just make sure to ask yourself, what’s the goal? Is there an end destination?
For our family, work was necessary to make ends meet and school has the purpose of a degree for a better career, better financial security and better future for our kids. Involving myself in either avenue is not 100% want as much as it is necessity. There is a price to pay and for me, that price is always reflected in my parenting.
That being said, the reason so many of us mom’s are in the workforce to begin with is also because we have dreams and aspirations. Just because we are moms doesn’t mean we don’t want to do as much as we can for our families or as much as we can to contribute to society. Even if that means going beyond raising good kids… and thats ok!
Embracing Your Pursuit While Remembering the Journey
We live in a world that allows us to explore our creativity and have that be successful. That’s opened the door to many jobs we can do from home, etsy shops, design blogs, freelancing. It’s easier for many of us mothers to juggle both aspirations and parenting closer together.
There’s nothing wrong with goals. There’s nothing wrong with the company you want to build, or the administrative position you want to fight for. There’s nothing wrong with reaching high and dreaming big.
Just remember that the journey is just as important as the end goal.
There’s nothing wrong with being busy, or with having a full life. Just make sure you are learning how to add purpose to every piece of involvement. Know yourself and your own capacity, learn how and when to say no. Learn how to table a project until later.
Each of us have different strengths, and our destiny is to use those strengths to the best of our ability. For myself, motherhood is one of those strengths. So, I value being a “good” mom who loves her kids and my priorities line up with what that looks like for me.
For me, that means making sure to listen to my kids. My challenge is to learn how to discern when their cries for attention go beyond moments where they need to learn to entertain themselves. Then, how to actually take the time when they really need some one on one momma time. It’s learning to fail an assignment from time to time at school. It’s learning how to turn off my brain, whose wheels are always turning; put the weight of the worlds problems down and look into the bright innocent eyes of my kids and just be involved… just play with them. They are the journey.
I can create an empire… but if I get to the end and realize I’ve missed out on my own kids, it won’t have been worth it.
I recently wrote a blog while I was in the thick of one of the hardest and busiest times in my life. You Got This is all about being in that busy and overwhelming season, and some things I learned about how I got through it. One thing I tried to emphasize, is that those times are meant to be a season and no more. No one is meant to be overwhelmed.
I’ve recently quit my job since writing that post. We finally got to a point where it wasn’t 100% necessary for me to work away from home. Let me tell you, I am absolutely relieved. Raising kids and a job was hard enough on its own. It was doable, but hard. As soon as I added school to the mix, it became chaos. It felt like we had to bunker down before the start of every semester. We would physically and emotionally prepare ourselves for a 12-week mental push. Although we got through it, we are not left unscathed.
One day, our family might face another season similar to that again. If that day comes, I’ll reread my own blog and try to get through it just like I did all of these last two years. Still, for now, I finally feel alive again for the first time in two years. This whole month of January has felt like a recovery month. It was honestly almost immediate, and you could tell the kids sensed it after my last day… mom was back.
I’m capable of a lot, and while I was in a place where I had more help, I did great. Even with that massive workload. However, seasons change. My encouragement to you is to give yourself a break. You don’t have to do it all, at least not all the time.
Tips for the Journey
Busy seasons will come and go. As we learn our limitations, as we learn to grow our no’s and as we grow our own capacities, I have three parts to keep in mind as you face it all…
- One, remember to have purpose. Don’t be busy just for the sake of being busy, have a goal. Either for yourself, your kids, your family or for society.
- Two, remember to be present. Busyness can steal so much from our day to day and from our experiences and memories. Remember to take the time to see your kids, see your spouse, see the issues of the world around you. Don’t get swept away in deadlines, schedules and to-do lists. Sometimes, they can wait. Go make some memories.
- Last one is to remember to be patient. Goals don’t have to be achieved today. Take a solid step, and then let tomorrow come. Be patient with yourself if you burn out. Be patient with your kids the days they don’t understand. Be patient with your schedule, its ok if there are gaps. It’s ok if you have time to take a walk, take that walk.
In the end, our kids will grow up, and we will have more free time. As I’m sure you are told every day as a mother, you will miss these days. In the end, all we will have left is our memories, and I am happy that we are making good ones. So, while you might be a busy mom (or dad), make sure you are a happy, balanced, and fulfilled mom (or dad); who has purpose, and who is present and patient.