Before I start in, this post isn’t to shame anyone who isn’t a SAHM. It’s to share my personal and turbulent journey in becoming a SAHM in the hopes that it can be relatable and helpful to others who walk a similar path.
Now that I’ve said that, I’m going to start right in because if you’re reading this, you’re probably like me, dripping with kids and chaos and don’t have a ton of spare reading time. 😂
You all, I’ve not been doing well. I could compare my life to feeling like the walls of Babylon tumbling down. All I have wanted all my life is to be a mommy, and yet every day I have found myself hoping for bedtime, and then after my precious babies fell asleep berating myself and sinking into an ocean of guilt that yet another day had slipped through my fingers. And don’t get me wrong, there ARE going to be days like that. But to have it be my norm, was breaking my heart into shards. And honestly, until recently I had ZERO clue what the real problem was, just assuming that I, myself, should have never been a mother because I felt like a complete and utter failure.
I have always been a very driven person, this has served both in my interest and against me as I am always striving to do better and do more. In addition to that, I have always been very independent. And by that, I mean I have identified a tremendous amount of my sense of self worth through my ability to provide for myself and my family and through tasks accomplished on my own. And there is nothing wrong in providing, in fact, for the majority of my marriage it has been necessary for me to do so (hubby is in medical school). However, it was consuming so much of my mental space it had been negatively affecting my motherhood. And by negatively impacting, I mean really blowing it to shards. I made this discovery through a series of events. I had been struggling, deeply.
How deeply this had been affecting me hit my heart like a slap when one night I was wiping down high chairs and I just felt, heavy. Overwhelmed, small, and so heavy. A small task like wiping down chairs felt like it was enough to break me. My kids had been having a terribly rough day, and I had not handed it well at all. I knew something needed to change, but I didn’t even know where to start. I called my mama, a woman who gave her life to raising me and my sisters and did it with grace and love, and asked her to pray for me. To pray that I would feel “enough”. She stayed home all my years growing up and I NEVER felt like I wasn’t enough for her. I KNOW she had to work her butt off, the house was clean and we ate incredibly well, we were homeschooled and did activities and outings and all kinds of magical stuff, but I don’t remember her striving. I remember her love!!!! I remember the good food, the good times, the joy. But I don’t remember the sweat and tears I KNOW she had to experience. Motherhood is not easy!
I KNOW that my children had been sensing in my behavior that I was feeling unfulfilled and a failure. Children are perceptive and wise little beings, they understand more than we often know. And in my come to Jesus moment this realization punched me in the gut. I want mine to remember the joy, the love, NOT the striving. I want them to remember being ENOUGH. For if in these tender young years I teach them they aren’t enough, it is a burden they may carry for the rest of their lives. And for that to happen, my heart needed to change.
A dear friend I have made on Instagram, Linda from @odiamonds_the_rough, was lovingly sharing her mama wisdom and encouraging my heart, and she made a comment that gave me a true “come to Jesus” moment. She said, “Remember if they are struggling there may be times where they need you to pause your agenda and see what their little hearts need”. The pride in my heart reacted, agenda? Wasn’t my agenda caring for my children? But I took a step back, and prayed on her words. And, as sure as the dawn breaking in the morning, I saw things in a completely different light. EVERYTHING I do every day is my agenda. Whether it be laundry, cleaning the house, working on my blog/photography, even if I do it to take care of my children it is still MY AGENDA. Things I try to do on my own timeframe and in the order I choose. Yes, of course there are interruptions, potty times, meals and snacks needed, etc. But I didn’t realize until she said that how incredibly all consumed I was in accomplishing my own AGENDA.
Tantrums, slow eating, acting out, I was so focused on fixing it all I wasn’t stopping to try and see what their hearts were needing. I was so consumed in striving for more, in feeling that I wasn’t accomplishing enough, that my children were sensing my struggle and reacting to it.
Every day, I felt guilt. Guilt over not having the house as clean as I wanted, over dinners being simple, and laundry not always done. Daily I put these expectations on myself to have every box checked on my task list. Every night I went to bed feeling as if I hadn’t done ENOUGH, as if I wasn’t ENOUGH. And to add to that pain, my children were not happy and I didn’t know how to fix it.
I called my mama again, and I asked her to pray for me specifically that I could release this striving in my heart, and that I could re-identify where I found my self worth. To be a mother has been my heart’s desire since I was old enough to know what it meant, and I could see these precious days slipping like sand through my fingers. Keeping little humans alive daily, saying it we think that of course that should be enough for us. But sometimes our hearts don’t get the memo. Sometimes we (even subconsciously!) have skewed expectations of ourselves and what we ‘should’ be accomplishing.
At night my husband used to ask, “What did you work on today?”. He meant it out of love, but I realized every time he said it I felt frantic to present a list of accomplished tasks from the day. As if care of the kids wasn’t enough, right? But I didn’t feel like it was. I was still finding my self worth in accomplished tasks.
And so I prayed. I prayed for God to heal my heart in this area. I prayed for Him to help me release this insecurity, to feel enough in being the role I have prayed all my life to be, a mother and wife. I called my mama and asked her to pray again. And, I woke up one morning, and things felt different. I looked at my children, and I saw them in a completely changed light. Am I “cured”? No way! I am a work in progress but the difference is, I am now aware of the issue I have been battling. And Jesus abounds in grace and mercy (thank Jesus😅). It is hard to fight an enemy we cannot see friends. And I did not see how lost I have been in pursuit of my own self worth, until recently.
And you know, tantrums aren’t always due to a larger issue, sometimes they just really wanted another cookie. But sometimes they are hurting, and I have realized the JOY and PRIVILEGE I have been given to stop my agenda and see what their hearts need. And no, I do not always react as I wish, I screw up, sometimes I still cry. But my heart sings with gratitude that God had mercy on me to help me find my second (third/fourth/zillionth) chance with my babies.
And yes, I still do my absolute best to help provide for my family, and keep the home clean and us all fed the best possible. But sometimes, the toys don’t get put away, it takes me days to get a small blog post written, and the laundry doesn’t get folded because I took the time for an extra story, a walk, or even just a snuggle. And I will admit that at night I still struggle to not feel as if I am not enough myself when looking at that unfolded laundry pile, but I am now aware and actively working on this change in my heart.
And so, I will try again tomorrow. And I will grow. I will pray for grace to cover my shortcomings and mercy to cover my failures. And I will wake up tomorrow with a heart’s intent to teach my children that they are loved and they are enough.