Motherhood. It’s exhausting. It’s overwhelming. It is the best thing to ever happen to you, but it can also be a thief if you let it. Motherhood gives you perfect tiny humans who grow up to be bigger perfect humans, but it also steals from you little by little. It can steal your sense of self. It can steal your sense of worth, and it will also steal your sense of purpose- if you let it. I’ve experienced this thievery, and in this season where all your days may look the same, I want to encourage you to not give in and let motherhood steal your sense of purpose.
I get it. How can you feel like the rock-star super-mom you absolutely are when it seems like all you do is wash the same cups every day and wonder just how much Daniel Tiger is “too much?” How can changing diapers, wiping noses, or refereeing the brawl in the living room for the 64th time today give you a sense of self? How can you believe your spouse when they tell you that you are beautiful when motherhood has stolen your will to shower and you are single-handedly keeping dry shampoo in business? These are 5 things that I believe you can and should do (maybe not every day, start slowly, pick a few) that will leave you feeling like your sense of purpose extends beyond the humans you are keeping alive in your home.
First, make your bed. Easy. If you already do this every single day, girl you are ON IT. Congratulate yourself, take a piece of chocolate into your bedroom closet, leave the light off so they don’t find you in there and ENJOY. YOU ARE AN ACCOMPLISHED WOMAN. If you, like me, are not a “natural” bed-maker, buckle down. Do it. If you do NOTHING else for the rest of the day you have tidied something that belongs to you. There is nothing I like better than walking into my room amidst a messy well-lived-in home to see a made up bed calling my name.
Second…brace yourself. You aren’t going to like this. It’s going to hurt. But I wouldn’t put it here if I didn’t believe it. Real clothes: put them on. I am not saying that high-waisted leggings aren’t one of the sweetest gifts the Lord has given us. I am not saying that your husbands old t-shirt that you stole because it’s a little bit too big and makes you feel like you’re hiding those middle rolls should never be worn. What I am saying, though, is that if you want to feel like you have a purpose, dress the part. Even if you invest in some deliciously soft linen shorts that look like business but feel like nap-time, it’s worth it. Even if the thought of putting on a real bra, or pants that don’t stretch, or mascara makes you cringe, do it. After X amount of days (enter any number here, 1, 3, 65, 492, wherever you’re at, I’m not here to judge) walking around in those “freedom clothes,” to walk by a mirror and see yourself in real clothes, with a tiny bit of mascara on will give you a renewed feeling of “Oh wow, I guess I don’t always look like a naked-mole rat. By golly, I look like I am going places. I’m not... I don’t actually ever leave the house. But I could be. And that’s what’s important. I am woman, hear me roar!” And you can always put on those no-pinchy pants at 4pm, that’s basically night time.
Third, have a plan for your day. Maybe you are one of those color-coded itinerary people who have every second planned, in that case, go ahead and jump to number 4. But if you are like me and often wake up in the pangs of “How are we going to survive today?” then plan a little. Plan some blocks of time. Example: In the morning we are going to go on a walk and play in the yard. Mid-morning let’s do some cleaning and read books. After naps let’s color some pictures to send to some friends in the mail. Have a few things you want to get done and then do them. The greatest joy of motherhood is that it is all encompassing. It is also one of the most terrifying aspects of it. It can overwhelm us, it can leave us feeling like the entire day slipped by and we did nothing. But please remember, even if you only do one thing on your “list,” any day that you mother, you have accomplished something huge.
Fourth, and girl I need you to hear me: TAKE. SOME. TIME. TO. YOURSELF. I mean it. Every single day. I don’t care if that means during naps you grab a handful of chocolate chips while eyeing your full sink of dishes and you sit on your couch and watch the show you promised your husband you would wait to watch with him. I don’t care if you go for a walk right after bedtime (better yet, DURING bedtime, am I right?). I don’t care if you put your kids in the backyard with a popsicle and you *GASP* lock the door while you call your best friend to tell her about the fight you and your husband had last night. Maybe you need to do a face mask and read Harry Potter for the 16th time. Maybe you need to get up early and go for a run. It doesn’t matter what it is, but you need it. And you need it every day. If you feel like your sense of self is slipping away, if you feel like you can’t see your purpose beyond mothering, guess what, you need to LISTEN to yourself. Those thoughts are literally YOU crying out to YOURSELF for some good ol’ fashioned ME time. If you can make this a regular thing, then I promise your sense of purpose will be rejuvenated.
Finally, reach out to someone who may need to hear from you. I cannot tell you the number of times that I have been drowning in motherhood that a friend has randomly sent a text, or dropped a coffee on my doorstep, or sent me a video that they thought would make me laugh until I cried. I cannot tell you the life that those friends have breathed into me when they tell me that what I am doing is hard. Friends, motherhood is hard. Doing the same thing day in and day out is hard. Sharing your days, your food, and your drinks with people who backwash bits of animal crackers is HARD. If you want to feel like you have a sense of purpose reach out to a friend that needs to hear from you. Reach out to your neighbors to remind them that you are there if they need anything. Reach out to the mom who walks by your house every day being dragged behind a horrible black lab while sweating through her shirt trying to get her 2-year-old to walk faster and her 4-year-old to not ride his bike into the street (specifically, that’s me. If you see that situation happening that is absolutely me and I need you to say hello to me, k thanks). Breathe life into people who need it. If you want to feel like you have a purpose, if you want to be reminded of what you have to offer, give of yourself.
I want to be clear. This list isn’t all encompassing. It’s not an end-all-be-all solution to the loss of your purpose, but I do believe they are good things to do regularly to keep motherhood in it’s place. This job is a joy. It’s a gift. It’s something we should enjoy and we should not give it the power to steal from us. Will we love it every moment? Only if you are a psychopath who loves tiny people screaming at you for giving the cup they wanted to their brother. We get lost in the messes. We get lost in the snuggles. We get lost in the chaos. We have to work hard to not lose ourselves. And if you’re there, if you’ve lost YOU don’t give up on yourself. Take that walk. Wear those shorts that make your husband whistle at you even though you aren’t leaving the house. Take a moment to connect with the lady you met randomly at the park, she wants to hear from you; she might need to hear from you. Because you’re great. You have a purpose And you’re worth it, I promise.
Photos by Kristen Fondon Photography