Loving Yourself and Motherhood

There are receipts to be punched into our budget document from last month, there is unopened mail that probably contains bills, there is a huge pile of papers to go through — and that’s just my desk. There’s a countertop full of random food, containers, and dishes that needs to be put in their places. There’s a kitchen floor that needs to swept and maybe one day mopped (but let’s not get our hopes up for that one anytime soon). There’s clean laundry still in the dryer and up in my room that needs to be put away. There’s also dirty laundry probably mixing with the clean so that by the time I get to cleaning up the bedroom floor I’ll forget which is which and throw it all in the dirty laundry basket again. The bathrooms need to be cleaned, the toys organized, the food inventoried….

But here I am, writing a blog post while my 3 yr old is watching a movie and the baby is sleeping. Why? Because motherhood isn’t about keeping a clean house (even though I’m desperate to put time into it, but clearly not that desperate), it’s not about making it look like you have it all together. It’s about taking care of your family, which includes yourself.

As a mom who has gone through a year and a half of good counseling, and still going through it almost weekly, there are things I have not only learned about myself and about postpartum depression, but also about motherhood.

We get too caught up with shoulds and shouldn’ts that we miss what’s important. Yes, I should pay those bills (really, I should), but what about taking the time to be present with my kids? Or even just to allow myself time to write — something I so rarely do nowadays.

The stereotype of motherhood drives me batty. When I say I’m a stay-at-home mom, what kind of things do you think of? For me, I picture a happy mom who wears really nice things and does her hair the same way all the time, many days manages to put on makeup, has all kids dressed and combed, feeds her family organic wholesome food, has a baby on her hip all the time, cleans the house, goes to mom groups, coupons, is very good at DIY crafts and projects, sews, has time to journal or do devotions, has no need for wine at night… but let me just add right here that none of what I mentioned above is a problem. It’s all good and fine and awesome for the mom who likes those kind of things. But what about the mom who doesn’t? Like me? Or maybe like you?

I have wanderlust. I’m spontaneous and social. I thrive on adventure. I get deep yearnings in my soul for something I can’t often put a name to. I am twenty-five, soon going to be twenty-six, and I already have two kids. That’s fine, perfectly great! Except I was finding myself looking at other women who did not have kids and were young and free, and I found myself envious. I missed out on what I wanted to do because I felt that I needed to have kids right away. Travel has always been a favorite of mine. However, that’s difficult to do when you have young kids, especially when you fly with them and everyone gives you the stink-eye. What about car rides? Oh, that’s great when you don’t have a baby who literally thinks he’s dying in his carseat. So what am I left with?

It’s so easy to go down the spiral of “I wish I had” and “I wish I hadn’t”. Do I really need to say that I love my kids? That they’re the joy to my life? That I get huge anxiety every time I think about leaving them? I hope it’s assumed.

The danger of this spiral is that I would begin to resent the life I have. It didn’t take me long, though, to realize that I don’t have to be the kind of stay-at-home mom I think of when I hear it. I don’t have to be like many other moms, because I’m not like other women. So how do I couple my wanderlust with the responsibility of mothering young kids?

Deal with the screaming in the backseat, for one. I don’t have to go far, just far enough to see something new. Why not take the kids out for the day? That’s the great thing about nursing, I don’t have to worry how many ounces of formula to pack or realize I’m running low and can’t add to our schedule.

I firmly believe in women not making their identity as just a mom. Motherhood is amazing and rewarding if you add to it what makes you as a woman. Or maybe motherhood is what you add to you. No more “I should make this instead of buying it because that’s what moms do”, or “I shouldn’t go there, everyone will think I’m nuts dragging my kids out”.

Moms, don’t lose what makes you as a person. Your kids will benefit more from your expression of yourself than homemade everything. Unless that’s your thing, then go for it! A happy mom really does make the family happy. If you do what you love, your kids will see it and realize life doesn’t have to be boring or frustrating or depressing. Make your kids a part of what you love and you will see that motherhood is fantastic.

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