4.09.2014

more than a mom

Today I just wanted to share what has been on my heart lately in the hopes that some of you out there may understand what I am going through, or that if you are going through a similar season in your life, you will find comfort in knowing you're not alone.

As most of you know, I am a 24 year old stay-at-home Mama to Olivia Beatrice, my almost-11-month old.  I never thought at 24 I would be living the dream I've had since I was young -- to be a wife and mom and to spend every day at home with my baby -- teaching her, dressing her, brushing her hair, photographing her, watching her walk and talk, and laugh and cry and learn about life.

But God has given to me the best gift I could ever ask for, and my dreams have come to fruition. I am still young with a lot to learn but I know the beauty and rarity of my position and for that, I am extremely grateful.

As we approach Olivia's first birthday in May, I am amazed that so much has happened over the past year. There are moments where it feels like just yesterday I took a break from eating my bowl of pistachio icecream to take a pregnancy test and surprisingly found out we were expecting (!!!), or just yesterday we were on our way to the hospital with excitement and anticipation of meeting the baby girl I had always dreamed of. But then there are moments where it feels like she has always been with us, because in our hearts, she has. She was always meant to be ours and when I look in her eyes and see her little smile, my heart knows she is the reason I am alive - to be her Mama.

But lately, with the stresses of life that have been placed on us, I have been feeling like all I am is a Mom. Now, I believe first-hand that being a Mom is the most challenging, rewarding, exhausting, painful, joyful experience in the world. There is nothing like it, and until you experience motherhood with your own children, it is difficult to fathom. I absolutely love motherhood because I am equally challenged and rewarded at the same time; the growth it has produced in me over the past 11 months is unlike any other experience in my life. God has used Olivia to teach me about life, about love, about patience, about grace, about prayer, and more deeply about loving Him and leaning on Him every day. My character has been shaped and formed through the past 11 months and because of Olivia, I strive to be the best person I can be, knowing she will learn from my example. 


But being a stay-at-home mom, it is easy to get caught up in motherhood. I don't have a traditional career that I pour my energy and effort into 5 days a week. I don't bring home a paycheck that I've earned with the education I spent years achieving. I don't wear a name tag or professional clothes and some days, I don't even leave the house. I wear braids in my hair and yoga pants and I am known affectionately as Ma-ma. Because of this, naturally, Olivia is my every thought & every breath. She is a part of who I am. She is the little girl I take care of and play with all day and who I put to bed at night and who I greet with the sunshine in the morning. Yes, I have time away from her to work out, go to yoga, get groceries, or grab dinner with girlfriends, but even while I am doing those things, I am still her Mom. There are days where I long for a break, just to have time to myself to relax and close my eyes, turn my mind off. But then when I am away from her, I miss her so deeply. I am working on learning to be present in the moment -- regardless of who that moment is spent with.

But over the past 11 months, and even more recently over the past two months, I have struggled with seeing myself as "more than a mom" -- some times I forget that I am a wife, a friend, a daughter, a nurse, a creative thinker, a passionate writer, a beautiful and intelligent individual. I am not stating any of these things with arrogance, but with confidence -- confidence in who I am capable of being and confidence in who I knew I was before having a baby. 

Before motherhood, I had no difficulty seeing myself as a wife, or as a friend, or as a daughter. Before motherhood, I knew who I was as an individual, rooted in Christ and utilizing the gifts and abilities He has given me. Before motherhood, I knew how to define myself apart from any other person. While marriage was the closest I would come to being connected with another human being, even in that I knew confidently who I was as an individual. 

But now? Now I don't really know who I am apart from Olivia. I sometimes forget that I am a wife, blessed with an incredible husband who loves me more than my mind can imagine. I forget that I am an individual, capable of so much more than I may ever realize. I struggle with putting myself first and so clearly defining myself the way I used to. My faith and relationship with God has been so immensely strengthened since Olivia was born --another gift she has given me -- but it is still difficult to define myself apart from her. 

Life before her is rather blurry -- the most significant pieces of my life are clear but other than that, most memories other than my childhood -- are fuzzy. Since May 23, 2013, I have looked at the world from a whole new perspective and who I was before Her is now gone. The people that Dustin and I were before Olivia was born no longer exist; we have had to redefine who we are as a husband & wife, and for a long time, that was difficult for me. Sometimes it still is. I went through a grieving process of letting go of who we were -- just the two of us. Letting go of the US we knew ourselves as, and learning to embrace the new US -- the three of us. Every day, my love for Olivia only grows stronger, but I have had to prayerfully work through the closing of the previous chapter in my life to be fully present in the chapter I am now living. There are days I long to feel like "more than a mom" -- to feel like myself apart from any other person. To feel like the me I used to be, the person I spent 23 years of my life becoming. 

But maybe that is what motherhood is -- once you become a mom, you are no longer just an individual. Your old self is washed away, much like being Born Again. There is no need to mourn who you were because who you have become is so much more and what is in store for you is better than any experience or memory you leave behind. Your "old life" becomes a blur because your "new life" brings clarity on a level you have never experienced before -- clarity to your purpose, your character, your strengths & weaknesses, your passions & talents, and your ability to be the person you were meant to be.

As a Mom, you have been given a new life that is so precious & small and full of joy and that becomes your new identity, your new purpose. To care for, nurture, and encourage that little life. It is a calling to instruct a heart, to be present, and to give that life truth and love, roots and wings, and Jesus. 

The me that I used to be is someone I don't know how to be anymore. And some days that is hard. Some days that is painful. But ultimately I can rest in knowing that I don't need to be the me I was. I don't need to try to become the old me because who I was is washed away. Who I was before I was a Mom is no longer who I am and no longer who I want to be. I will always be a mom and so now I begin the process of discovering my new identity, knowing who I am in Christ  -- which I believe is the key to any sense of identity in its truest form -- and knowing that Olivia will forever be a part of me. And even if years go by and I forever feel like the most dominant part of who I am is defined by being a Mom, I am 100% certain that is a privilege -- any way you look at it. 

7 comments:

  1. I loved reading this!! My daughter turns 2 tomorrow and it was just what I needed to read. I am still trying to hold on to who my husband and I were before Emma and I think I am finally learning to just be who I am now and not who I used to be.
    Thanks Momma!
    xoxo

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  2. So beautifully written and exactly what I needed to read. I sometime struggle with not having something to show for my work, like a paycheck. But being a SAHM is so rewarding!

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  3. I love this! My daughter will be 5 months this month and for the last few weeks I have been struggling and it was so nice and refreshing to read someone who I can relate with. I'm a SAHM as well and I love every bit of it and couldn't imagine not being home with her but I have been struggling with my new identity, and if I will ever be "me" again, but you're right the old us is gone, and we are born again with the most amazing new identity // momma!

    Thanks for this real and raw post! I am with ya momma!
    xoxo, Jess!

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  4. I love this and I REALLY know how you feel. You put these feelings into words and for that I thank you! I love you so much and am so happy to call you friend!

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  5. This is so beautiful! I think so many of us feel this way but don't know how to put it into words! Well done! Xx

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  6. Love this! This is EXACTLY how I feel. Thank you for so eloquently putting into words what so many of us feel. ;)

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  7. This is really great. Even as a working mom, I struggle to see myself as more than just a mom! I can imagine it would be even more difficult for SAHMs!

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