The Mommy Diaries
For Christmas my sister-in-law gave me a relatable book for my season of life: The Mommy Diaries: Finding Yourself in the Daily Adventure. I actually had time last evening to sit down and read a few chapters and I resonated with much of what was written in the short excerpts about motherhood. I especially enjoyed the story below because I could see how easily I could lose myself in the daily grind of motherhood. Her words were inspiring to me as I begin this adventure. I pray they’ll encourage you as well no matter where you are on the journey of motherhood.
The Mommy Diaries: Finding Yourself in the Daily Adventure edited by Tally Flint
“The High Chair Day” by Jane Rubietta, pgs 13-17
“…Once babies are born, priorities shift. No longer are we our first concern. And this is a good, growing, turning point. Our helpless infants become our raison d’être, our reason for being. And while we are helping them grow emotionally, physically, and spiritually, it is so easy to neglect the same growth frontiers in our own lives. The result may not be pretty…
I’d lost myself in the parenting equation. In those rules of good mothers, no one told me that my identity as a woman needed attention, just like my kids…If who I am is what I do, well, I spent a lot of time changing diapers, shoveling food off the floor and feeding neighborhood children…I knew I wanted to grow in my role as a mother. I hadn’t realized that if I want to grow in my roles, I first needed to grow in my soul. That morning my inventory revealed seriously bare emotional cupboards. No one fed into my life; no wise women mentored me. My reading consisted of board books and occasionally a fast-food Scripture, but no serious depth reading that nurtured my soul or emotional needs.
I said yes to everything that came along. Yes to the person wanting to offer a party-plan home show. Yes to the leader-less committee at church. Yes to the substitute Sunday school teaching. Yes to the undones my husband couldn’t finish. Yes to the neighbors, yes to anyone, everyone–because good women said yes. But I never said yes to myself.
This partially explained my hunger that morning for silence, my spurting anger over one more request for help. My rage was over my lost self. We react out of our wounds. In the stillness, I acknowledged the wounds behind the anger. I needed help working through some ancient pain, so I sought a support group. Each Thursday for a few hours was my own, and if Rich wasn’t free to be with the children, then I swapped time with a neighbor. I created boundaries to protect this fragile person developing within me, just as I would protect my own children. I never said yes to anyone else on Thursday night because healing was my first emotional priority.
And with equal vigilance I guarded time each morning for my soul. If a boundary protects the unique identity God has given each one of us, then we are the only people who can do that for ourselves. Kids, husband, neighbors, church–these people will not protect that special identity.
That day began an internal listening process. Parts of me were dying, withering away like muscles long ignored. Gifts I neglected, hopes I discarded, interests I set aside that brought life and rounded out my soul. To listen better, I started journaling for emotional, spiritual and artistic health, taking notes on my soul, on my parenting mess-ups, on my disastrous attempts at wholeness. I practiced noticing sunsets and describing them, and I read everything possible out loud to the children. Journaling taught me to notice my needs, to practice honesty, to work through emotional radioactivity.
Children’s voices, sweet and strident as they are, drown out those internal longings. Who else are we besides mothers? What hopes and gifts nestle inside, buried treasure waiting for discovery. Creating space to listen helps us to develop those gifts and hopes.
As a woman who put great stock in doing for others and ignoring herself, I needed enormous practice in becoming–being the woman I was called to be, before a husband and children took up residence in my heart.”