For years I hid.
In fact, I had perfected the art of the hide.
When others would look in to my life they didn’t see – they didn’t see how carefully I hid the hard stuff from the world and from all of them. I wanted everyone to think that I had it together. You know, never frazzled, the homeschooling mom with the awesome meals, the kids who were behaved, perfect marriage and the whole thing.
But it was a facade. It was an exhausting facade.
My kids are amazing. And there were some really great times. Yes, yes, there were.
But I hid mainly me. And I totally forgot myself.
Because somehow in the motherhood journey I thought that beeing a mom meant totally dying to self. So I lost part of me behind a cacophony of I’m fines and that’s great and a whole lot of busy. The busy helped me hide. If I could organize this or take care of that or be so busy that I didn’t have time to sit still then I would be okay. And really, when the kids are all littles it’s so easy to be inundated with busy because they need you constantly.
But deep down?
Deep down I felt like I was failing – and the facade I worked so hard to make was pressure to keep it up. I knew I had lost myself, but in losing myself I thought it was noble. The thing to do.
No one really knew.
That’s the nature sometimes of this life. We live in a perpetual state of busy and we forget to fight for ourselves. We’ll fight for everyone else out there – our kids and spouses and friends and significant others and causes that we believe in – but somewhere in the journey it’s easy to forget to stand up and fight for us.
Now, I’m not saying we’re to deny motherhood while we’re in the middle of motherhood. In fact, that would be the opposite of what I’d ever say because I believe that motherhood is this unbelievably rich gift that we give to our families and that we do makes a life difference. But I also think that there are many of us who journey through motherhood, year after year after year and we slowly forget ourselves. Our identity becomes only mom.
Don’t get me wrong – it is a beautiful thing to be a mom.
Those moments are the ones that we all love.
But it’s just as beautiful to be you.
One day, I stood in my bathroom staring at myself in a mirror with water splotches and towels on the ground reflecting back and I realized how easy it would be for the years to tick by one after another after another and to all of a sudden wake one day when the kids were grown and to look in the mirror and have no idea who the person staring back at yourself was.
I know that because that was what happened. If someone would have asked me what I loved to do I probably would have replied with a dozen mom things but probably wouldn’t say the stuff that I loved.
The truth is that none of us have perfect lives, perfect stories and perfect motherhood days. We just don’t. And the more we spend chasing after idealistic perfection the less time we can spend doing things that matter.
You are part of your story.
I want my children to appreciate me as a mom but to also see their mom thrive in these years. I don’t want them to look back and think wow she was a good mom but never really that happy. Happiness as a mom can vanish so quickly under layers of laundry and bedtimes and homework and missed deadlines and lost dreams and unfinished expectations and vacations and busy. I know. I lived that in those hiding years. If people were to have asked me if I was happy I would have told them yes, but inside I would have died just a bit more because I knew I was hiding the part of me I didn’t dare speak.
Somehow I thought I wasn’t as much of a mom if I shared the personal dreams. Somehow I put all the weight and the gold and the money on the mom stuff but forgot the me stuff.
So I’m asking you to be brave and to look at your life and where you are putting yourself on the back burner. Are you hiding like I was? What are your dreams? And yes, beyond laundry that folds itself and a dishwasher that is always empty. Do you have those moments standing in the bathroom looking at yourself wondering what in the world to do next? And the reflection looking back surprising you?
You see, part of my goal and heart is that over the next year we encourage each other in not only our motherhood part of the stories but also in our us parts of our stories. Maybe you like to write. Or garden. Or just want to go out with friends. Holy moly. Then lets work to do that together.
What makes you happy?
Do not forget you in this journey.
So from today forward I want you to do one thing each day that makes YOU smile. Yes, you. Extra creamer in the coffee or the long route home or the dinner you love or reading that book or working towards the dream that you were afraid to articulate but now you’re going after.
That’s the goal.
I’m not asking you to get on a plane and to go to Costa Rica – although a vacation is always awesome. I’m not saying quit being a great mom. I’m saying that in your day I want you to realize your value and worth and your heart and to do one simple thing for you each day.
Be greedy for you.
You know why? Our kids need that. They need moms who teach them that as adults it’s good to have dreams and goals. And they need to see us happy.
This can bring back happy.
No more hiding. No more I’m fine’s when inside we’re not.
This is a community of women who are strong and believe in each other. Be that person to your friends. Be the one who tells them hooray for the break! or well done. Be the friend who lets go of competition but rather recognizes that heart of the woman sitting next to them. Let’s encourage each other to not forget ourselves but to thrive.
Let’s live, friends.
Yes, yes, yes…let’s live.
ps. If you want to keep up to date with the pulse of what’s happening here on Finding Joy I’d love to have you join the main Facbeook page below.