I have to say, having a baby at the beginning of a new year after a really shitty year is kind of the best. The days are slow and I’ve so enjoyed easing into a new phase of life with very little to-do’s or expectations. Despite having a baby or not I feel like we all deserve a little bit of this as a congratulations for surviving 2020. My reflections post rings true and my mindset for the year ahead is to slow down, to welcome more peace, more calm, fewer expectations, less comparison and an overall greater focus on living MY life.
Entering motherhood for the third time has been sort of a mind game. I’ve been pulled between longing for our life before, the four of us so comfortable in routine just days ago, feeling guilty for not having enough arms to do it all for all of my kids all the time and also savoring the newness. I am not someone who handles transitions well so any change usually comes with heavy emotions. Tears, feelings of loneliness, guilt, second guessing my choices, stress and frustration – the list goes on.
One of my greatest qualities but also heaviest loads is my determination to do it all as a mom. My body has learned to carry every heavy mom emotion, almost like a suit of armor. It’s something I’ve spoken in depth to my friend Jackie about over the past year. It’s what drowns me in guilt but also serves me so well. I know so many of you feel this too so I wanted to touch on some of the work I’ve been doing to let go of these high expectations for myself – to avoid the mom guilt and focus on that peace and calm.
I told Jackie that when I’m stressed, feeling guilty or pulled to do it all, my body goes into this rounded formation. Almost like I curl forward to prep myself to go into battle! I have a hard time resting and not thinking about what I “should” be doing – laundry, making breakfast, cleaning up the kitchen, making the boys beds and having everything be as they expect it to be. It’s a high level of expectation that I hold for myself. Jackie reminded me that the only thing getting in the way of feeling that sense of peace and calm is ME. So how I can let go of the armor? How can I learn to sit in the peace? It’s a constant struggle.
I feel like it’s easy to read an inspiring quote, read a self-help book or watch Brene Brown’s talk on vulnerability (if you haven’t watched it, you should!) and tell yourself – “this is going to be the new me! I’m making a change! Out with the old and in with the new!” When in reality, there is good in the qualities of yourself that you wish you could change. My military mom mode, need to do it all and be present for everyone in my life, has served me well. It’s what makes me who I am. It’s a true testament to my Enneagram type (I’m a 2 wing 3! the helper and achiever) in that I truly enjoy serving those around me. I’ve also learned that this mode is exhausting on my body and my mind. It’s not that I want these qualities to go away, but finding a balance in not letting the need to help or the guilt of not doing X, overcome my mental space.
So, I let both versions of myself live together. Whenever my stressed out, guilty, mom-mode steps in I have to remind her to relax her shoulders and take a deep breath. Instead of aggressively running around to accomplish everything that I think needs to be done, I tell her to sit down and just be. To be present in a way that doesn’t require going and doing. I think so much of our self worth comes from checking a box or a to-do and in reality, the things that are more fulfilling for me are being with my kids, slowing down, giving myself space. This is something I am really focused on balancing out this year.
I spent a lot of time on social media last year and noticed one big negative effect from over exposure to people’s highlight reels. I would find myself scrolling and scrolling, watching one IG story after another and becoming irritated with my own life. Snapping at my kids, getting stressed about how messy my house looked compared to others, or feeling worthless if my kids had McDonald’s happy meals for the second time that week. In a world where everyone is constantly sharing their accomplishments (just completed a workout! just got dressed! just bought a new bag! just met friends for lunch! just built our dream house!), I think it’s important to remember that those things aren’t checkpoints for your own life. We have become so caught up in what everyone else is doing that we’ve sort of lost the directions for our own lives. I’m ready to redraw the map.
I don’t know why I’m telling you all this but it’s important for me to acknowledge my feelings and the shifts I see happening in my own life. With a new baby and a move, we have a lot going on! In a way it feels like this opportunity to let go and let be. Having George is such a beautiful reminder to slow down. Time goes too fast and there isn’t anything more worthy of my attention than watching my kids grow up. Remember that when you think a task on your to-do list holds more importance. There is always something more worthy of your time, even if that something means giving yourself a break. We all need to prioritize ourselves more this year.
So onto a new year! I’m excited to share more of what makes up our family life in the year ahead. Decorating our new home, life as a mom of 3, more cooking as a family, more togetherness, more Dave (everyone’s favorite), new adventures and more conversations like this.