“Before I had kids, I had a plan. I knew what I wanted to do with my life, who I wanted to be. Now… life looks a whole lot different than I thought it would, the plan has been blown to pieces and I’m just not sure about anything anymore.”
Motherhood, it seems, has rewritten my plan, without my consent.
Some days, the dreams of my twenties seem lightyears away. The very accomplished teacher I’d become, the 4 perfect kids I’d have, the lifelong friends I’d raise my kids beside, the simple but beautiful house we’d own by the time we were 30. I am few of the things I thought I’d be, and motherhood has unearthed a few questions I thought I’d answered back in college.
Who am I? Who do I want to be? What am I doing with my life?
After I had Emily, the answer was clear. I’m a mom, and all that comes with it. I no longer needed those dreams of the past because motherhood seemed like the pinnacle to me. I’d gained the ultimate title – Mom. And in that first year of Emmy’s life, Mom was all I wanted to be. It was all I could be. The first year is hard and life changing and it’s all you can do to keep your head down as you change all the diapers, kiss all the toes, lose all the sleep, and survive.
And then Nathan came along, and we did that first year survival trek all over again. A little less frantic and a little more flexible, but much the same – changing all the diapers, kissing all the toes, losing all the sleep, and learning how to survive… with two, this time.
But now, both of my babies are past their first year, and there won’t be any more babies for us. And I’m back to sleeping for at least a 6 hour stretch most nights, and I’m sort of able to manage the house and cook the dinners and get the hang of things. I’m gaining a little bit of momentum in motherhood, and it feels good.
But as I do, this unrest has been rising in me. This longing for more than motherhood.
It’s confusing, really, because I’ve always wanted to be a mom. I fully believe that motherhood is a high calling, a divine calling. I don’t take it for granted, especially after the narrow survival of my first baby, and my narrow survival after the second. I know what a gift it is to be a mom to these little ones. So to get here and find discontent in the deep places within me has been unsettling.
Is this all there is? Is this who I am now? What am I doing with my life?
The all-consumingness of motherhood makes it easy to lose yourself in the work. Somewhere in between the diapers and the dishes and the exhaustion, we can forget the women we used to be. We start to see ourselves as one-dimensional, good for cleaning and caring and cooking, but not a whole lot more.
That’s where the weariness sets in.
And, if you’re like me, you try to assuage the weariness by searching for something to make you feel like you’ve got some dimension again. Maybe you go back to those dreams that motherhood rendered void. Maybe you create new dreams. You look for other things to do, other things to be, so that Mom is not all you’re defined by.
Maybe it’s time we stopped trying to do more and be more, and realize what we already are. If you can’t remember, let me tell you…
Before you were a mom, you were a wife.
You fell in love with a man and pledged your life to him. You loved him with your whole heart and dreamed of the future with him. He made you laugh and knew all your secrets and loved you anyways. To him, you were the most special woman in the world. You still are.
Before you were a wife, you were a friend.
You stayed awake all night chatting and laughing and making memories. You had the freedom to be spontaneous and stay out late. You shared a handful of closets with your besties, and you dressed up for no reason at all. You shared your life with women who shared their lives with you. They made you feel like you had something to contribute. You still do.
Before you were a friend, you were a daughter.
You looked up to and fought with your parents. You learned about life and love from them. You went on trips and shared conversation over meals and spent weekends grounded in your room. You found inside jokes and family quirks and lots of laughter. When you were with your family, you knew there was a place where you belonged. There still is.
Before you were a daughter, you were HIS.
You were formed by His hands, created in His image, your name written in His book. He made you to be beautifully unique and unendingly creative. He gave you a mind to learn and a heart to feel and He knows the depths of each. He treasured you before you were even a thought to anyone else. He saved you, because He loved you. You have always, always been His child. You still are.
Motherhood is beautiful, but it’s not everything. You’re also a wife, a friend, a daughter, a child of the King. It’s okay to go away for a weekend with your husband, kid-free. It’s okay to take an evening off to have a girl’s night, or to let the kids watch a show while you catch up on the phone with an old friend. It’s okay to bring an elderly parent into your home to live with you, or to let the kids spend time with dad while you spend some time with the people who raised you. It’s okay to practice serving the Lord both in your home and outside of it. It’s okay to give old dreams new wings, or to create new dreams.
As I settle into motherhood, I’m realizing that I’m more than just one thing. I can’t be everything, but I’m not just one thing, either. And I’m learning that, as I figure out a little more of who I am, of who God’s called me to be, and lean into those roles, I’m more fulfilled in every way. And my kids are able to see that life doesn’t just revolve around them.
In some seasons, my whole self is going to be thrown into motherhood – raising my babies, and feeding my family, scrubbing food off of plates, and praying for patience. And in other seasons, I might be able to take on other things, to pursue dreams or serve the Lord in different ways. I think that wisdom comes in seeking the Lord for guidance as we determine what each season can hold.
While I can’t do all the things, all the time, I can learn to be the whole woman God made me to be. Because when I sit at His feet, He reminds me of who I am, in Him. I’m more than just a mom. And so are you.