Gosh. I’m a mess. Let’s just start with that.
The winds have shifted once again around here, and my adaptability skills have been put to test. *For those who may not know, I struggle with change. Big time.*
I dropped my girl off at school this morning. Her very first day of school. Preparatory school. Which means she’ll be in Kindergarten soon, and I’m literally gonna fall to pieces. Sure, I’ve had NINE months to prepare for this, since we enrolled her back in January, but still… Last night’s emo breakdown and this morning’s aimless driving proved that I’m out of my mind. Officially.
It’s just preschool, guys. It’s three days a week. For three hours at a time. So I’ll be the first to admit that I know it sounds a little ridiculous that this is a little hard for me at the moment.
Many have asked, and I’ve failed to answer all the questions of, “What am I gonna do with my time?”
By the looks of 97% of the moms I stood next to in the drop off line this morning, working out is apparently something. The other 2% had a baby attached to their bodies, either by external carrier or uterus, so one could assume what their three short hours might consist of. And then there was me. The 1%. Sweating to death in my fallish outfit, because apparently when I lost my mind emotionally, I also failed to take note that it’s still 88 flipping degrees outside. But I’m just trying to hold it together. Thank God I even managed to get out of my pajamas!
I had plans, though. Oh yes I did. I’d drop her off, and drive .08 miles down the road to the coffee shop, and pour all my emotions out into this post, because I’m on my game and I packed my laptop and charger, and I’d walk in and order my black Americano, and use some free wifi, pretend like I’m some kind of “blogger”, and swing back by to pick up my girl in three hours. Sounded great until I went the wrong way three times, chose every lane that didn’t allow U-turns, and circled my way around the parking lot one time and left because Caribou only allows for like three cars at a time.. So I probably let out some disgruntled sigh, and high-tailed it back home after realizing I had just wasted 45 minutes driving for nothing.
What is wrong with me? Nine months preparing for this new season, and I can’t even figure out what to do with myself. Part of me is so excited for her. Excited for me. For both of us to get a little break and a change of pace. Part of me is terrified of the cesspool of germs I just dumped her in… Please, no one tell me what kind of tests our immune systems are about to be put to. Part of me is just sad. I’ve spent the last four years of my life pouring into this sweet kid. Raising her. Every single day. It’s what I know. It’s what I’m good at. And just like that. Overnight, it all changes. It will never be the same again. And so a part of me grieves.
Most days, she drives me absolutely crazy. It’s a challenge to constantly try and keep her entertained, and come up with things for us to do, and keep up the house, and cook, and be fully present, and take care of myself, and keep a schedule, and try to be organized… But when it’s what you do, and what you know, and what you love, it just works.
And now? I don’t know. I don’t know how to be “productive-stay-at-home-mom-with-a-preschooler”.
I’m sure I’ll figure it out in time. I’m sure I’ll find some kind of hobby, or try working out, or use all three hours to run errands. I know eventually it will become my new normal. But just being candid? Right now, I’m struggling. And I believe God is beginning to deal with me as to why it is such a struggle.
When you don’t know yourself apart from your role as a mom, change like this IS hard.
I mean, I literally had a breakdown over trying to figure out what to do with my time. Three hours, three times a week, all to myself. “Use that time to do the things you can’t do with your kid,” they say. “Use that time to do something for yourself,” I’m told.
But man is that a hard thing to figure out when you find yourself in this place of struggling to even come up a thought of individuality. I don’t know myself apart from my daughter.
She’s growing up, and I’m still in mom-mode, and life is moving on, and I feel like I’m being left in the dust. I’m longing for the baby days with her again. Time doesn’t stand still like I want it to, and I can’t make her slow down, and every day that passes by, she’s becoming her own little person. She’s finding herself, and it’s what I’ve been working so hard for these last four years, but man it is hard to let go.
And I guess this is one of those dangers of motherhood. There might not be many, but there are a few, yes. And I have to be honest with myself enough to recognize what is happening, and what is happening is that I have kind of lost myself along the way of giving everything I have to her. I’ve lost myself enough to not know what to do with myself in times of change, or in fleeting opportunities of independence. I’ve lost myself enough that I find myself being afraid of trying new things. Afraid of moving on. I’ve lost myself enough that I do not know what makes me ME. I’ve wrapped up my identity and self-worth in a cozy little blanket embroidered with bold letters of M-O-M. *And I’m not even a fan of embroidery.*
How can something so good, so life-giving, and so purposeful be dangerous?
Isn’t it a good thing, a noble thing, to give parenting our all?
Good parents miss their kids, and don’t wish it all away, right?
Yes, yes, and in appropriate degrees, yes.
But I feel God speaking to me, and showing me that rather than seeking and knowing my identity in Him, and mothering in His strength, I’m finding my identity in her (the stinking cute little thing that she is), and mothering out of my own strength. I’m finding my identity in being her mom so much that I literally don’t know what to do without her. It’s not cute, it’s not sweet. It’s sad.
Because the truth is, I am someone. Yes, I am a wife. Yes, I am a mom. But that can’t be all. And if it is all, then what is to say about the nurturing, creative nature of the God I serve?
Did He not create me with purpose in mind? In His image, and as a joint-heir with Christ as a child of God? Do I not have a future in and through Him? Are there no plans to prosper me?
I clearly know the answers to this. I believe it. But I’ve just gotten some things mixed up. And it’s safe to say that like anything else, the right perspective has to come into order.
Our children are good, but they’re not God. It isn’t said that apart from our children, we can do nothing. It is said that apart from God, we can do nothing. But with God, we can do this life. We can ebb and flow through seasons of change. We can both grieve over our children growing up AND trust God with our heart. We can still be the people that God has called us to be, whether our children are in our care and under our feet 24/7 or not. We can still see them for the gifts that they are without banking our entire existence upon taking care of them. We can let go where we need to let go, and trust God to do something with the time that was once filled with diapers, and bottles, and nap time, and crying, and rocking, and potty training, and all the endless details of raising children.
The reality is, Selah is only four years old – well, almost four – so I still have many years of child-rearing ahead of me. It’s not like I’m sending my kid off to college. There is still time to soak up this child of mine. But dare I let myself believe that it might be something healthy for me to accept with joy in my heart that a new chapter has begun. For her, as she embarks on this journey of school, and academia, and friends, and embracing independence, she is going to find herself. And I will ready myself to continue to be the mother that she needs. And for myself, I’m not exempt from my own discovery. It’s time to re-learn who I am. What I’m about. It’s time to branch out. To grow. It’s gonna require a TON of vulnerability. A lot of courage. And I have to remain constantly willing to go and do what The Lord is leading me to.
So here’s to finding yourself. Whatever that may look like for you. Wherever you’re at. May this admittance of mine be encouragement to you that you’re not alone. God help us to come into our true identity, to the glory of God, and as leading examples to our children and everyone around us that we are more than our titles.
“If there’s anything I’ve learned through the years, it’s not a bad thing to recognize when a season has ended and a new one needs to come. I pray wherever you are that you’ll seek Him out to be your ALL. You might be at the beginning of a fresh start. Have faith that He will be faithful no matter what it looks like. You might be in the middle…stay strong, WAIT on Him before you make a move, listen intently, press in! If you’re at the end…don’t be afraid to let go! Often He doesn’t show you the other side until you push off from the shore of what you know to be safe and secure. In any part of the journey, look to Him for your ALL. Beginning, Middle and End.” ~Christy Nockels