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Rediscovering Yourself After Motherhood
Sometimes the people that we love most forget our limitations. Sometimes we are so capable, that other people forget to think about how much we sacrifice to fill their needs. They might not even know what it takes.
So what do you do when you just can’t anymore? You just can’t smile through it. You just can’t keep those tears in? When motherhood and being a great wife and friend has taken over your life, and suddenly you realize that you have no idea who you are anymore?
That’s when it’s time to start a conversation with the people you love, and start listening to your heart.
Allow Yourself To Feel It All, Even The Bad
After I lost my Dad in a tragic car accident, I had some really serious breakthroughs about the way that I was leading my life. For years, I had been so focused on playing my homemaker’s role perfectly. I had chosen to give up everything that I had dreamed of achieving for myself besides having a family. I had given up my career, my freedom, and some days it felt like my sanity.
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I was stuck in a role that wasn’t living up to its expectations, mostly because I wasn’t allowing myself any of my own time. Taking care of my home and my kids day in and day out without anything bigger to strive for just didn’t fill me up like I had hoped, no matter how much I love them. I didn’t want to leave my kiddos, but I needed something that was just for me.
I knew that if I wanted to be true to myself and help my kids to strive for their dreams, it was time to make a change of my own. I only figured this out after Chris told me that I wasn’t okay. You know, because I had a major meltdown and was stuck sobbing on the couch for three hours while my kids ate cereal for dinner. Cereal that my six-year-old had made for them before dad got home.
After such a major loss, Chris told me something that I desperately needed to hear. It hurt, but it was the truth everyone else had either ignored or avoided: I was not okay. He told that he wasn’t okay either, but that we needed to figure it out in order to live our lives.
Let me tell you, finally being allowed to be vulnerable was a really crazy idea. I had been trying for so long, even before the accident, to be this perfect version of myself. I had forgotten the power of being raw, and real, and honest with myself and with others. I kept crying for a few days, reveling in all that I had failed at, and searching for what to do next.
Who was I? Where did I want to be? What was my dream now? How could I get there?
Being Vulnerable Takes Away The Power Of Fear
If you are in this place, I want you to take a few minutes to really look into yourself.
What are you struggling with?
Where are you unhappy?
Who could help to change this, and what is holding you back from fixing the problem?
If you are hiding problems from the rest of the world, it is likely that you are hiding them from yourself as well. Let it out, even if it’s just with your husband, or your best friend. Even if it’s on a blog that nobody knows about, or in a journal that is tucked into your closet. The real target audience here is you. Take a minute to imagine your perfect life, then figure out what is in your way and let it come out.
Sometimes, this is hard. I can tell you that it was really hard for me to let everyone see that I have a problem with depression. To let them see that I was struggling. Even though I had gone through a major loss, I felt like I needed to be strong, even for myself. Fake it till you make it, right?
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Faking It Isn’t Solving Anything
Wrong! Once I stopped faking it, I couldn’t hold it back from anyone. I couldn’t slap a smile on and pretend that life was normal. The secret was out, but that gave me room to start healing for real. Let me tell you, I feel sorry for those poor souls that got to interact with me right after this revelation! I’m sure it was intense.
Not only was I healing from the accident, but from my story. It was hard to admit to myself, and to others that becoming a teen mom really had derailed my path. For the record, I wouldn’t change a thing, except maybe learning to appreciate the opportunities I had by staying home sooner.
It was hard to admit that I was already struggling with my purpose in life, long before the tragedy that made it all blow up.
My dad was a dreamer, but he never got to follow his heart because his first priority was to make sure that our family was taken care of. He had to choose security over fulfillment. Watching my dad sacrifice everything he wanted for me his entire life really struck a chord. It has given me the determination that I need to make the most of the life I have, especially because as a stay at home mom, I’m in a position where these risks are so minimal.
This process of becoming vulnerable wasn’t an easy one. It isn’t easy to talk about the heavy things. It makes people uncomfortable, so we avoid it. Don’t let that fear of letting it out keep you from living the life that you want. Once I pinpointed the things that I had been so afraid to admit, suddenly I knew the parts of my life that needed attention.
Sometimes Change Means Sacrifice
This was the point where I really started taking risks and making big changes in my life, but I have to tell you. Some of the repercussions of those decisions were hard. I had to get focused on what I really want out of life and make decisions about what was worth sacrificing and what wasn’t. I had to dig deep and figure out what my ultimate life goals are. Questions like:
Who do I want to become?
What legacy do I want to leave?
What example do I want to set for my kids?
While I was running through these questions in my head, I thought about something that made it all easier. What if I watched my children sacrifice everything they had dreamed of for no reason? Because that is exactly what I was doing. I realized that there was no reason why I couldn’t start working to become who I want to be and be a wonderful mother at the same time. Sure it’s a juggling act, but it can be done with just a few changes.
It’s Okay to Focus On Yourself Sometimes
I want you to step out of the mother role for just a minute and think of all of the sacrifices that were made for you to find happiness in your life. Maybe your parents paid for your college tuition or sent you to summer camp every year. Maybe your uncle bought you a car, or your boss covered your shift so that you could go to prom.
Whatever sacrifices those people made for you, they were done out of love and out of hope. The people that love you want you to find happiness, and that means that you are allowed to let them know when they are asking for too much, or when you need a change. They won’t always like it, but they will understand.
After digging into my heart for answers, I got serious about focusing on what I needed to do in order to fit these new responsibilities into my life. By implementing systems for my home, I was able to start letting go of the things that aren’t going to help me to reach my ultimate goal.
I told Chris sorry, not sorry if the house wasn’t clean when he got up. I told my friends sorry, not sorry if I wasn’t able to hang out all afternoon like I used to. The sacrifice for me was not appearing put together. Not being perfect, but it was worth it. I made it clear that I was busy trying to change my life, and I didn’t let anyone take my time away from me.
It was hard, but it can be done! The good news is that the people that love you will just adapt to the new boundaries because guess what? They love you back.
Related: Let Your Friends Offer You Strength Of Mind
Give Yourself Permission To Start Now
I am giving you permission right this second to stop fussing about the little things like cleaning and cooking. Get them figured out because they never go away, but then start focusing on the bigger goals in life. Make sure that every single day you are taking at least one step forward toward your goals, and that you don’t let anyone take that away from you. If you never choose to do the big, scary things in life, you might look back and wonder what kept you from trying. Time is the one thing in life that we can’t get more of, so don’t waste it.