I had this moment a few weeks ago in which I realized that I don’t think being a mom is the only thing that God has planned for me. While this may seem rather obvious, to me, it was a revelation.
When I got pregnant with Clara super-quickly, I decided at that moment that God wanted nothing more from me than to be a mom. Tim and I had prayed diligently about becoming parents, and I thought that God’s swiftness in answering this prayer was also an instruction to me to prepare to lay down everything to become a mother – because clearly if He answered us so directly, that must have been His will for me, right? Isn’t being a mother all about sacrifice? I thought the answer was (of course) YES!
I decided to quit my job (no big sacrifice, because I wasn’t enjoying it) to stay at home with Clara, and I put all of my life plans on hold to reinvest myself in everything ‘mom’.
For the first six months, I actually think I did a pretty good job at being a mom. I loved the newborn stage. I cherished every second with Clara and I responded to every whimper and cry, all night and all day. Then Clara became mobile and very demanding – as soon as I turn my back she’s chewing a cord! – And at around that time I decided I needed to get the heck out of the house more frequently. It’s not like I never left the house without Clara, Tim has always been a super-dad (in my very biased opinion) and I started leaving Clara with him for a few hours at a time when she was only a couple of weeks old. We started date nights when she was around 2 months old, so she was also used to being with family members other than me. However, when she was around six months old I started needing some ‘serious’ time away – meaning for more than 3-4 hours at a time.
To preserve my sanity and to feel like I was doing something useful, I followed a nudge I felt in my heart to volunteer, and I began regularly volunteering (two days a week) to prepare tax returns for low income families in Chicago. I absolutely loved volunteering and I loved using some of my skills to give back to people! My energy returned and from there my plans for life started churning again. You see, when I was stuck in my house (yay Chicago winter with a tiny baby) it became impossible for me to plan what I wanted to do with my life. I felt stuck. I felt lost. I felt bored. I knew that I had a lot to offer and the world had a lot to offer me, but I couldn’t figure out how I could accomplish anything at all since my number one priority and calling was a little baby who needed me – physically, emotionally, and mentally.
How could I maintain a sense of self while also being a mom?!
And then I realized: God gave me this baby because He called me to be a mom, but that doesn’t mean I need to only be a mom, and it doesn’t even mean that I’m best equipped to be a mom. There might be other things that I’m going to be better at and that will actually advance His kingdom more than I will be able to as a mom.
My mind was honestly blown when I thought about this, and I truly think it was God speaking peace and wisdom into my heart.
Yes, He has given me Clara to watch over here on Earth. She is without a doubt the most precious gift I’ve ever been given. However, I am more than her mother, and that is okay.
I do not need to, nor should I, sacrifice everything I want to do to be ‘only’ a mom.
That’s why I’m taking my own interests so seriously.
… I’m going to physical therapy to work hard to get my body back – because I don’t believe that I should need to sacrifice my body forever because I had a baby. Yes, the c-section scar will remain and is actually something I’m proud of, but I’m not accepting that split abs and bad posture are a simple side effect of a ‘burden’ I bore! I’m going to fix this, darnit, even if it takes time away from my baby.
… I’m also going to continue going to counseling to work on some difficult relationships in my life.
… I’m going to read because I love reading and I find great peace and joy in this hobby.
… I’m going to blog because I love reaching out to others and I hope my writing encourages someone out there.
… I’m taking classes on photography and eventually piano because I want to get better at these skills.
… I’ll continue to travel every chance I get because it’s important for me to see the world, and Clara will come along because I like to have my whole family together.
… I will eventually embark on a different sort of job path because I am not meant to sit at home and think of crafts and activities all day. Some moms are gifted at entertaining small children – but I am not. I am better at working with adults, and I think adults are who I’m supposed to be discipling and sharing my gifts with.
This is not to say that I am not and will never be a good mom – on the contrary, I think I’m a great mom and I know I’ll only get better. I recognize that some parts of motherhood are going to be challenging to me, but I feel I’m well-equipped and will be even better equipped with some more experience and prayers. However, I know myself well enough to understand that although I’ll be a fantastic mom to Clara (and subsequent children, God willing!), being a mom is not where I’m going to find the most self-fulfillment each and every day.
So I’m spreading my wings with a new determination and courage and am asking God what He wants me to do in addition to this role He has bestowed upon me.
I think He has some great things in store for me, and I’m very intentionally attempting to follow His lead.
I truly think some women have a specific call to motherhood and they feel completely content at home with children (what a gift this is!) – but I am not one of those women – and I’m okay with that.