I knew from a young age that I wanted to be a stay home mom. And though I love staying home with my kids, the initial transition to motherhood rocked my world. And even now I sometimes question this whole motherhood gig. “What did I get myself into with all these kids?”
About 4 months after my son was born, I had a bit of an identity crisis. Even though I wasn’t super “career driven,” I was very active in my church, I was volunteering in the community, and my previous job had given me structure and purpose that motherhood seemed to lack. Not only did I feel like I had to “give up” a lot of those things, but now just getting to the grocery store felt like an enormous achievement. I had doubts about myself and the importance of my role.
Then I started looking around at all the other moms who were “doing it better” or different than me. Everywhere I turned I questioned myself and felt like I wasn’t enough. I was emotionally exhausted.
Now, almost four years in and three kids later, I’m still very much learning how to handle “all the feels” of motherhood. But I’ll share a few things that I’ve found helpful so far.
1. You are the only mother your kids have.
You’re the best one for the job and it is one of the most important jobs in the world. You are literally the only one who can love them the way you do. Your effort in creating your family culture and memories will be the foundation for your lifetime relationship with them. And your kids think you hung the moon (at least while they are little)! Give yourself grace, daily. We’re all doing the best we can.
2. “Comparison is the thief of joy” -Theodore Roosevelt.
The main battleground of the “mommy wars” is in our head: in how we interpret people’s opinions, what they do, and what we think we should do as a result. If you’re constantly questioning your parenting because it doesn’t look like someone else’s then make the unfollow button your new best friend. We all need reminders to stay in our own lane. Striving for excellence with your kids and family while considering our personality, kids, and circumstances is key.
3. Give yourself a gut check.
What are your motivations for your commitments, where your kids go to school, etc? If you feel like you have to “keep up,” impress people, or you’re afraid you’re not doing enough, then pull back. Say “no” more than you say “yes.” Burn out, depression and teen suicide are epidemics in our area. But remember, the pressure to do it all starts at home. Even though it doesn’t feel productive, time with your kids is the most essential thing you can do. Yes, it’s counter-cultural, but give yourself permission to make family time and simplicity your highest priority. “If you want to bring happiness to the whole world, go home and love your family” -Mother Teresa.
4. Find your people.
I hesitate to say tribe, because the implication is that the people we are closest to should be just like us. I think it’s important to find friends that mother the way you do and have similar family cultures and values. They’re the friends for spontaneous dinners, family vacations, and just doing life together. But it’s just as important to have friends that do things differently. Invest in a friendship where you can appreciate the strengths and gifts that each of you brings to this whole motherhood journey while not being threatened by the differences. One of my most precious friendships is with a momma whose personality and parenting style is somewhat opposite of mine. But I love to talk motherhood with her because I glean so much wisdom from her experience and values.
Life’s too short to mom alone and to let your fears dictate how you should raise your kids. There is freedom to be the mom you were meant to be.