I have worked (what feels like) a very long time to arrive at the point of being a happy mother as a stay at home mom, the point where I feel content and enjoy motherhood and mothering.
My Journey Into Motherhood
While I have always loved my twin daughters, I wasn’t always enjoying them or my new role and life as a mother in the home. My journey into motherhood has proved to be quite the growing experience for me as an individual. I have learned a lot about myself as my weaknesses have smacked me square in the face way too many times.
Having attended school full-time for 16 years straight, working part-time for nine of those years, and being married for less than a year and a half when we were blessed with not one, but two new babies and then moved across the country in search of employment, let’s suffice it to say, that the transition from my previous life to my life as a full-time mother was not so easy, especially when living in a place where I didn’t know anyone, nor have a car during the day to get to know anyone.
Motherhood with newborn twins
While most of the first year of my daughters’ lives left me consumed with meeting basic needs, I still felt lonely and bored. Thankfully I had on-line courses and an art commission to keep me busy before our first Christmas. But once I finished my classes, and was officially set to graduate, I found myself with a lot more time on my hands, time in which I could let myself bemoan my situation, be lonely, and bored.
Thankfully there were church friends and church activities to go to, plus my adorable kids. I started going to my first book club once a month, and going to an occasional girls’ nights out. I also had a few new art commissions too.
These activities and times when I could leave the home (kid-free!) and be with others, especially other women, were wonderful. Growing up there was always something I knew about myself, something that I knew I had to have, and that was people. I had to have people in my life. I considered myself a “people-person.” I loved being with a group of people. I felt comfortable leading a group, voicing my opinions, and talking. My poor husband would get an earful of my endless ramblings as soon as he got home from work because I was so glad to see him and glad that he was an adult who could actually talk with me! And he happened to care about me and what I did all day. However, too often, these ramblings took on a “woe-is-me” tone as I would complain about things that happened, things the kids did wrong, and how we were tight on money (again), and so on, which Josh didn’t appreciate much after a day dealing with moody high schoolers.
Motherhood with toddler twins
When we moved to our second home in Indianapolis, we switched church congregations, finding ourselves in a ward that had more younger families, families in similar situations as us. Many are in law, dental, medical, or graduate school and have wives and young children. It was easy to start making friends as I attended the weekly playgroup with my girls, was willingly given rides to fun places, and went to another book club. Plus, there were still church activities and more involved callings therein.
This socializing definitely helped me feel better, filling my people neediness. However, women getting together in large groups can sometimes leave one feeling less than. I sometimes found myself wanting what the other women had. I wanted to be crafty, to be able to sew, cook healthy gourmet meals, or sing beautifully or have exceptionally smart or well-behaved children like them. I wanted my own home, fashionable clothes, a second vehicle, and to be much more financially secure. I wanted to be as fit as they were, as nice, as welcoming, as giving. I wanted to be as smart, as mature, as balanced.
And sometimes too, even though surrounded by many women, I still felt all alone. I still felt like I didn’t have that “best” friend. It all felt a little hallow. I wasn’t always comfortable around them. My guard was up, and I had that gnawing feeling that they were all judging me, evaluating me (the youngest of the group), so I better be careful about what I say and how I say it. And there were times I felt I had nothing in common with some of these much more awesome people. Sometimes I questioned whether some of them even liked me.
But all of that thinking and envying was just grounded in my own insecurities. I hadn’t come to recognize my true worth as a woman, as a wife, as a mother, as an individual. These women, I’m pretty sure, have never judged me (they’re too good for that!), but I judged myself and them. Doing so only made getting close to them and developing real friendships harder. I decided a few months ago to be more forward in my socializing. I took the initiative and invited several people over to my home for play-dates. I tried to relax and be my flawed self more. I stopped worrying about what others thought and did what I wanted to do.I also started to pray more, and more sincerely. I also started to take my scripture reading and church callings more seriously. I’ve picked up doing genealogy again, and reading more books, including books about being a better mother. I’m trying hard to be more patient with my two-year olds. I am speaking kinder to them, really listening to them when they are upset, and setting clear consequences that I stick to. I am playing and reading with them more. I am also talking to them about god-related subjects as well academic subjects (letters, numbers, colors). Overall, I am more intentional with my daughters and it leaves me more satisfied as a mother and as a person.
Motherhood with two-year old twins
Thanks to books, and my personal and spiritual searching, I am valuing my role as a mother more. I am beginning to understand just how important I am in the lives of my young children. I (along with their dad) am their everything. They look to me to know how to react to things, how to learn, how to speak to others, how to love. A mother is the temperature gauge of her home. So, if I’m mad, everyone will be in a foul mood. And if I’m happy, chances are, everyone will be happier.
I see now that being a happy mother only comes when I value being a mother!
The sacrifice I make every day to stay home with my children instead of pursuing my own desires will be short-lived and worth every moment if I make it so. Because, although parenting young children is extremely taxing and challenging emotionally, physically, and spiritually, it is such a short amount of time. Before I know it, my children will be in kindergarten and then college. All research shows that these first few years of a child’s life are paramount (even though they won’t remember much of it!). It sets them up for the rest of their lives! So though I am not currently helping our family’s financial situation much, or furthering my education, or developing new talents, I am helping our family in many many ways. Motherhood is extremely important. Raising great kids is extremely important. So I’m choosing to make the best out of my awesome appointment of being a mother of young children by being a happy mother while mothering!
Doing so means I view my children as gifts, as precious, as pure, as wonderful. I see their potentials. I love them fully. I devout my attention (note I didn’t just say time) to them. I make them my top priority, not my home, not my grooming, not this blog, not Facebook, not some book, movie, or game – THEM! I still feel like I am coming into this new frame of mind, of this new understanding of the true value of motherhood, but I am determined to live differently.
And that is what has made me happy again. I’ve changed my outlook. I’ve stopped comparing (and am slowly stopping the complaining). I’m prioritizing my life. And it all feels pretty great. I’m not worried about keeping up with someone else. I’m not worried about how others perceive me. And I’m not going to downplay myself, because I know I’m a likeable person, that I’m pretty, talented, and smart. And I know I am a good mom.
I’m not perfect (in fact I’m very flawed), but I’m content. I’m at a good point in my life. I am seeing my purpose differently.
How have you come to view your role as a mother? How are you striving toward being a happy mother?