Motherhood: finding myself without losing myself

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Hi! I’m back! Lets just say life has been kicking my butt over the last few weeks  and ironically it was the same time I was working on this draft on motherhood (coincidence much?!)

*Consider reading this parent or not, we may just find something in common*

I stepped into the unknown as soon as we were expecting our first.  I had NO CLUE what I was getting myself into. As soon as Naomi was born she was just the apple of my eye and it was a blissful time in my life. It was so empowering to know I can take care of a real human being! I also found so much fulfillment in motherhood (especially in the first year) that other relationships and priorities were placed on the back burner.

Aside from mommin’ all day and night… I’ve often had to pause and ask myself this question, “Who is Nicole?” amidst diaper changes, sleepless nights and two little ones constantly in need of their mama. Meanwhile the other parts of me: wife, friend, employee, student, artsy, fun Nicole was less and less prevalent.

My husband and I often exhale, look at each other and say ‘Wow, where did the day go? What happened?’ 

Although we understand that this is just a season we are in for a time & we cherish it whole heartily but also understand we have to work in order to fulfill what used to be normal. When things would just come together with no grand plans when things were meant to be how you would imagine in a D.I.N.K. (double income no kids) household . A vibrant social life, time to workout, weekly date nights, travel, lots of spontaneity, fun & MOST importantly freedom. 

Isn’t it funny how we romanticize/covet other people and what stage their in? I do! If you are single its marriage, if its marriage it can be singleness or becoming a parent or if you are older to be younger or you are looking at retiring early and how to become wealthy or you just cant wait till the kids are out if the house…the list goes on and looks different for us all, but I think you get what I’m getting at. We want what we don’t have and we live in order to get somewhere that isn’t our reality today.

Its hard for me (us) to turn off auto pilot mode. Meaning, just go with the motions of the day as needed without actually engaging with the situation. With each minute only anticipating the next thing my kids will need: meals, cleaning up, change of activity, cleaning up, the glorious thing a nap does for EVERYONE. When all are tucked into bed for the night (cross my finders) and I start catching up on social media, I find myself looking through photos of my kids & reflect. I think to myself ‘wow this is so amazing what a great day it really was!’ How all that was wrong or didn’t go according to plan fades away in an instant. But then sadness hits me. For some reason I was not fully present.

What I try to do is stop and consciously tell myself “be here with them, no be HERE.“I may feel like their butler & order taker all day long but there is so much more meaning in my time spent with them I can’t contain myself when I’m actually present in the moment.

Whether I got caught up on getting through the day, my to-do list, or making sure my Instagram photos were edited to perfection, it cost me much more than I bargained for. 

Now, you maybe reading this and think, well I’m not a parent I can’t relate to you or what you are experiencing. This can be  reality for your life as a student, business owner, employee, spouse and any other stage you may fall under today. I say this because its been true to my life before I became a mom. Yes my circumstances have changed, yes my life stage is different but tendency to fall into old habits is a constant battle.

I have a hunch that I am not the only one that has “the struggle is real” written all over them through various parts of the week.

When my pragmatism turns off and I become more present I feel most myself and full of joy.  

Yes, I LOVE being a mama, it was always a dream come true to become a mom (x2) I believe with all my heart that I have been and being formed and molded into a better, loving, caring and nurturing person because of my girls. I am more confident in who I am, where we find ourselves in life and feel validated with all the choices made as a family along the way.

But no matter how planted I may feel anywhere we live and with anything that gets thrown at us, in the good times and the difficult,  I have wondered back to this place over and over again, “Who is Nicole?”

Something that I was taught in church was to be intentional. To be intentional with life: your time, finances, and relationships. I would get a little uncomfortable by this idea. To me it didn’t seem authentic. Like you are manufacturing a reality and are forcing friendships. I was perfectly content letting life go on as is and not place “intentionalality” as the driving force. I always just thought that if two things were meant to come together, it will JUST HAPPEN. If its meant to be its meant to be, right? This worked for me before but why not now? Why not as a parent? Why not today?

Although this was insightful for me to recently recognize & add to my list of quirks, this non-intentional method in my mind I grew very COMFORTABLE with ultimately failed me. Over and over again.

It failed me in my relationships, in my marriage, in wasted time & in missed opportunities. It also failed my day to day life, primarily as a mom. And the once blissful fulfillment I once  felt as a mom my identity I hold dear has come and gone.  I felt depleted, tired, unsatisfied & empty with myself.

I realized if I want to have a full and complete life I must be intentional and I need to ask for help in order to achieve this reality! (Something I have too much pride to do but know I should)

SO, how do you strike a balance between the things you do and who you are?

Well what if they don’t have to be separate? In western thinking we tend to separate who we are. I’m a wife, I’m a mom, I’m Christian, I’m a __________.  When in reality that is WHO I am, It should be a holistic way of defining ones self.

John Calvin once said, “Without knowledge of self there is no knowledge of God.” What does that mean?

Well, we are made in Gods likeness and in His own image, therefore we know God by knowing ones self. We worship to God amidst our day our life and are most ourselves in his presence. And just as its not helpful to separate God, He is three in one, is isn’t helpful to separate our- “selfs”.

Something that comes with the territory of motherhood is there would be sacrifices made: loneliness (believe it or not, even with a little one with you 24/7) changed relationships, marital strain, identity questions, and lots of tears. Tears of joy & tears from hardship. There is hope and joy I’ve realized in who I am. I’m certainly a work in progress but I carry it all wholeheartedly and found that I CAN have a fulfilled life in any stage if I am INTENTIONALLY living life.

Being intentional can be authentic and be REAL if you are present.

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Thank you for reading my pen & paper blog post. These are the harder ones to write being more personal and raw. I hope you get a chance to explore my other posts & recipes. I have a few more posts coming together in the near future.

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