Becoming the kind of mom I want to be

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

I have been a mother for a few years. Since December 2007, to be exact. And I used to think that putting myself last was a virtue. It's being selfless, isn't it? Making sure that my children eat first even if I'm starving. Making sure that I'm the first to wake and last to sleep. Making sure that I slave morning 'til night ensuring that my family is well served. Enriched minds. Clean house. Great meals. Organized days. 

Aren't these the things that make me a great mother? 
But, this was killing me. 

The thing was it wasn't so bad when I only had one. But when my second baby was born, the juggling act upped a few thousand notches. Life became extremely demanding, which only got a bunch worse when I returned to work. (Many parents would agree that going to work is actually a break – but I work at home half the time, WHICH IS A RECIPE FOR INSANITY some days!). Life became extremely unsustainable, which in turn made me temperamental and unpredictably moody at times. 

It had to stop. 
And I fortunately remembered a simple truth: 
in order to give, you have to have something to give. 

Physical
Parenting young children is physically demanding. Interrupted sleep is the biggest culprit. And out of all my weaknesses, discipline with sleep has always been the worst. I have always wanted to be that person who wakes and is productive at 5:30 am, but every member of my family is a night owl. So the worst is when I have stayed up too late, and then my children take turns at waking us in the middle of the night. My energy was completely zapped. I became the walking dead. 

What has helped? My husband and I started exercising. This has made more of a difference than I could have imagined. It really lifts my mood (so, especially when I am tired, I have to kick my own butt to get out and go to the gym and I instantly feel better after the activity). And I feel I have more endurance during the day. 

I have changed my eating habits. I have way less sugar (although I still love my desserts) which helps a lot as well. Having your sugar crash simultaneously occur with your children's meltdown is not the best scenario for award winning parenting. So, getting rid of the candy and chocolate bars and soft drinks have made a significant impact. Plus, that stuff is crap anyway. 

Spiritual
Since the spiritual tends to be invisible... it seems to always be the thing that goes to the back burner. God is my ultimate source of strength, wisdom, guidance... If I'm not connected to Him, aware of Him, spent time with Him – it's like living in a desert. It is death. Everything in life feels harder, and I keep forgetting why. I need to live my life more aware of this truth. 

How does this look? For the last couple of days I have started listening to the podcast of a pastor that I really admire, Tim Keller. He has a gift of unpacking scripture in a simple but really profound way which is really making me excited about the Bible again. You should check him out on iTunes (Tim Keller, Redeemer Presbyterian Church). 

I'm reading more. For me, if I can learn something, it inspires me. Whether it's a fitness book where I learn something new about the human body, or an philosophy of art book where I can think about the purpose of art in life, or the Bible, which serves anyone well to read it (honestly, dump the preconceived ideas and read it for yourself). I'm remembering how it feels to live inspired. The funny thing is that it makes me feel young again (ack....feeling old at 33 is depressing). 


This is just the start of making sure that I'm healthier. This goes beyond "me" time. Going to the spa to unwind, or retail therapy while may have some short term gain, leaves me with nothing more to give to my children than before. I need to continue to grow myself, so that when my children need me (which is a lot – especially in these young years), I have something to give them. 

I don't want to be a stressed, grumpy mom. But becoming the opposite requires intention and discipline. I let a lot of unimportant things slide now. So what if I'm behind on laundry? Oh well, some toys are still not put away. More importantly, if I can continue to include things in my life that keep me growing and inspired, I will become the kind of mother I want to be. 

7 comments:

  1. I know what you mean about inspiration! I'm trying to figure out life with two too. Good podcasts during housework helps! It's amazing how having some great ideas in my head really helps with my attitude and outlook.

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    1. Hey Lindsey,
      Nice to hear from you! What are some of the podcasts you listen to?

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  2. I love your post and agree 100% with what you have written. I too am trying to cut back on the crappy foods,read more (yay for the public library) and have more quiet time with God. Thanks for keeping it real once again. This is why I love your family :)

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  3. Laura Bogner20/6/12 14:28

    So honest. I know we can all relate to this glimpse into parenting. Many of the things we thought we were doing right, were only causing me to wonder why parenting wasn't as smooth as I thought. It's about the whole. Taking care of ourselves mentally, emotionally, physically and spiritually so that we can give our best. Thank you, I now find myself reflecting on how and am taking care of me so that I can take care of my children

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    Replies
    1. Amazing to hear from you! Taking care of ourselves is a reminder we can always use. Hope that you're doing awesome!

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  4. Hey Kathy, I often listen to The Meeting House podcasts (lots of great stuff in the archives), and then random audio commentaries on books or passages of the Bible I'm currently reading (some found on blueletterbible, others found rather accidently). I also love the CBC radio app - love listening to Ideas, The Next Chapter, Under the Influence etc.

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  5. Anonymous4/7/12 21:56

    I read this article today called "8 Things Wise Wives Learn" and thought back to this post.
    Especially point #2 of the article:
    "2. Totally spending themselves for their family sounds noble but is extremely foolish. If a wife/mom isn’t spiritually, mentally and physically strong, her contribution to her marriage and home will be diminished. Wise wives get rest. If wise they can’t find it, they steal it!"

    Been enjoying your blog posts as they've been coming more frequently and freely. Thank you!

    Bex

    P.S Here's the whole article: http://thepurebed.wordpress.com/2011/09/20/8-things-wise-wives-learn/

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