I recognized the eyes that stared back at me.
They were mine.
But they were tired.
They were eyes of a woman who lost her heart, I think.
Wait. I could see the water spots on the mirror. The to-do list in my mind. I could hear the kids fighting over something that seemed inconsequential to me but to them was the end of the world to them and required the negotiating skills of Solomon. I could hear the beeping of the dryer telling me to switch the clothes that I was perpetually behind on.
I could see the towels once folded crumbled in a pile. I could feel the weight of much to finish. I could tick off everything I didn’t do right or had yet to finish.
That’s what I saw when I stared back.
Being a mom took over.
But I was worn in that motherhood journey. The piano I grew up playing gathered dust. The garden put on the back burner. And when someone would ask me what my dreams were I’d answer to them with a wry little chuckle about how it was sleep. I wouldn’t dare articulate those dreams that filled my heart as a little girl — all the adventures and things to do. And so forth. So sleep became the go-to dream that we’d all joke about dreaming about when we’d get together and all.
Don’t get me wrong. I love being a mom. And hahaha, somehow in today’s world I feel like we all are stuck having to explain that as well when people ask us about us. Our hearts. Somehow it became a cut-down against motherhood if we dared to speak about something other than being a mom. We always start our stories of dreams and goals with just so you know I love being a mom as if speaking about anything else made us less of a mom.
But our hearts matter so much too, dear sister.
Fighting for our hearts doesn’t mean we don’t love the motherhood parts of ourselves. We can love the birthday parties and cupcakes with icing and rocking babies to sleep. We can read books and drive to school and put hair in barrettes. We can mother. And you know what?
We can mother and not lose ourselves in the journey.
Those eyes of mine? They were lost, I think.
Lost behind my own expectations of self. No one really sits us down when we start the motherhood journey and shows us the chapter about how important it is to take time for us too. Nah, there are chapters on what to do with the two year olds or how to tiptoe out of the room without waking the baby. There are books on dealing with the tweens (I think I’ve read everyone — oh. my. word). There are books about college entrances and on and on. But us as moms? Moms behind the eyes that stare in the mirror every morning?
We could so easily become lost behind I’m fine and tomorrow and it’s no big deal.
But I’m here to tell you – yes you right now – that you are worth fighting for you. Your heart, your dreams, you are a big deal. You deserve a spot on your own to-do list. If you and I continue to run on fumes then we’ll just burn out. Those are those days that our hearts just break and the load of motherhood becomes too much. Ha. Taking care of ourselves and articulating our dreams and going for them is NOT A GUARANTEE of a perfect life. No. In fact, sometimes there’s much resistance in us deciding that we’re worth it. It is however, a guarantee that our hearts, our souls, our selves will be nurtured.
We’re not doing our kids and our families and our partners any favors when we burn ourselves out.
So sister, sometimes we have to say no to the busy and yes to ourselves. WITHOUT GUILT. Bolded because it is unbelievably easy to attach guilt to doing anything other than mothering. Remember my first statement about how I kind of needed to apologize for wanting to cultivate my own dreams?
Breathe, my friend, breathe.
You and I have an allotted number of days to walk on this earth. Don’t push you to the back. Be the best mom you can be. Remember all that Happy Mom stuff that we’ve been talking about? I really believe, like believe so much I’d bet my Starbucks quota for the year, that when we fight for our hearts that the happy days of motherhood can return. then we have the space to laugh, to give and to really see how much what we do makes a difference.
Our kids need us to love ourselves.
They need to see us as moms and have the memories of how their mom was a fighter and loved them and had things that she loved to do too.
You know what? My mom loved her flowers. I know, you may just think flowers, but let me tell you, I have beautiful memories of her working in the garden. Of us on Mother’s Day giving her time to be and work in the soil. Do you know what else? My kids hear me play the piano again. They ask about the moms that I meet when I speak on my trips. They see me as their mom but also see me for all the things that I love too.
Do your kids know what you love?
If not, well, I’m challenging you right now to start figuring it out again.
Finding ourselves in motherhood means admitting that we just might be a bit lost. And then deciding that we, and that means you, are worth fighting for you. You fight for your kids, your friends, others — it’s time to re-add you to your own list.
Take a look at you in the mirror. Look into your eyes and start to love you for you again. Start to write those dreams down. Don’t let fear of them being too crazy stop you. Don’t let fear of what the other moms will think slow you down. Be a trend setter. Be a warrior. Be brave.
Start finding you again. One day. One morning. One moment taken for your heart after a time.
Those moments build upon each other. They layer together in the fabric of the days and you will, instead of losing yourself, find yourself again.
This day counts.
And fight for you too.
ps. Three years ago someone told me that he was counting on me to finish my book. Those words changed my life. So I’m telling them to you too – I’m counting on you to fight for you again. That book? The Brave Art of Motherhood. You can get your copy, and find your brave again, HERE.
Love this. So good. So true! x
I love this article! With your permission, we’d love to feature it on our website, Real Imprints. We are a website and organization that recently launched a new focus to inspire hope and healing in mental health, addiction, family, self, faith, and giving back. If you are interested, please email me!
We will of course mention, and link to, the original source of your article. Thanks Rachel!
Dear Annie, if you got hung up on “there” instead of “their”…..you need to read this article again. You need it more than you know. You know how I know that? Because I am exactly like you…and, even though I am 63 years old and have raised 7 children, and have 9 grandchildren…..I.NEED.THIS.ARTICLE. So don’t get hung up on the dumb stuff. Don’t walk into a beautiful room and see the one shoe out of place. <3 🙂
Thank you!! I hate it when I do that — but — haha I do live up to my “there is no perfect there is only real” part of me.
I know how that goes! I appreciate it when it’s pointed out to me so I can fix it. Just assumed you might too! Your writing is beautiful!
Oh and I will go reread it and find it. Truthfully – even though i edit I still miss stuff. My editor for my book laughs at that part of me as well.
Yes. Lost – Speaks to me right now. It’s reading things like this that reminds me every day to give myself a swift kick in the butt and do something towards my goals/bucket list.
Goodness, I so badly needed this right now. I am lost. Four kids – two sets of twins. Four babies in less than 3 years. One is autistic and one has asthma and some sensory issues. They take 110% of my energy and there is nothing left for me. But I’m realizing that I need to fix that, or I won’t have anything left for them either.
This has been so challenging for me as a mother…remembering to be myself. It seems like there’s never enough time or energy to do something just for me. And on those rare occasions that I do remember myself…I feel guilty! It’s something that I need to work on.
Thank you for this. This is truth. I definitely don’t put myself on any list. My dream when I was little was to be a jockey. Horseback riding was my passion. Yet that is the farthest thing from my life. It’s sad how we treat ourselves because we are “the mom” and we take care of others but not ourselves.