Mommyhood is hard. I’ve felt the hardness of it all especially these last few days. The culmination of the busyness of the days, combined with sickness after sickness, including my own, has left me drained and tired. But especially during these tough times, I’m glad I learned something a few years ago that has brought me so much happiness and peace; two key components in my life that I’m still learning to master to this day: to know myself and to be good with what I am; and that happiness is worth fighting for. Throughout these last few years, I’ve really come to know me. To know what I can handle and what I can’t. To know what helps me gain strength when I’m in need of nourishment. To know what I need to avoid during the tough times. To know when I’m okay to take on more, or when I’m close to a breaking point and need to reduce the load. These things are critical in finding joy and success in our lives. Trust me, I’ve learned the hard way.
I used to wade through the depths of depression and anxiety. It was tough, but I was the problem, which made it tougher. It was my way of thinking. It was the way I saw the world. It was the way I made comparisons of everything and everyone. It was the way I gave in to situations I know only made the problem worse. It was the way I didn’t fight to do what I knew would bring me joy.
It’s not easy to fight when you feel you have no strength. Physical, mental, and emotional weakness can be so debilitating that it’s easy to give in and settle for the darkness. But eventually I started to learn that happiness wouldn’t just come to me, I had to fight for it. So I did; little by little.
Now the journey for each of us will be different. Our struggles, personalities, experiences, background, and current situations are all unique. And what inspires and motivates one to change does not inspire or motivate another. But you have to find what speaks to YOU. For many of us, our source of inspiration is easy to identify. It might be our family, our faith, our significant other, our job, a picture of a small cottage in Italy, the Fall, a cherished sport, the smell of lilacs, a desire to attend a certain college; it could be anything for anyone and it could be many different things for someone. For others though, it might take some thought and deep soul searching to figure it out.
Now if you’re still reading this post, you’ve probably been through your own kind of struggle with yourself or are currently there. So I ask you to stop for a second. Think. Dig deep.
What motivates you?
What inspires you?
What makes you want to be better? What makes you want to change for good? What gives you the strength to go on?
If you know, then take that and hold on to it. Hold on to it close. Maybe even make a vision board or post a picture by your bed so that you will be inspired every day.
If you haven’t figured it out, don’t worry about it. It will come. Sometimes we draw inspiration and strength from the most random things at the random times. But the key is wanting it and hoping for it and knowing it will come. It will.
Now in case you’re wondering what inspired me, it was my faith in God and my family. Specifically it was an ordinary day in my little house, back in 2009. My husband would go to school and then straight to work so I usually wouldn’t see him from 8am until 9pm. My oldest was in Kindergarten, so during the afternoons I was left with my toddler. I remember a particular day when I was putting away laundry, and my little Bella and I were sitting on my bed. I remember laying there, the room dark as usual, and watching her laugh as she played peek-a-boo under the sheets. She was so happy. So free. So uncaring of the rest of the world. She was truly in the moment, unaware of the darkness of the room, or the bills we hadn’t paid, or the fact that her Daddy wouldn’t be home until late so Mommy probably wouldn’t make a real dinner again that day, or that the laundry was still in the basket after 2 hours. No, she wasn’t aware of any of it. She was just happy. I wanted to be happy like that. For her and Lili and Stephen. I wanted it so bad.
So that was it, at least the beginning of it. It triggered a desire in me that I hadn’t had before. It awakened a sense of realization that if I didn’t do anything about it, then it would never change. So I went to seek the help I so desperately needed. And let me tell you, the journey was long and hard. But, it was MINE and it taught me so much about myself.
Now fast forward 7 years. I am a Mom to 4 kids and I’m HAPPY. That doesn’t mean that life is easy or perfect. It’s not. And you know what? I know it never will be. And I’m okay with that.
I love the words in the song “Beautiful Boy” by John Lennon: “Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans.” This is it. This is life. Not having enough money for a vacation. That’s life. Not being able to go back to school to finish my Master’s. That’s life. Not knowing if we should move to a bigger house or staying cooped up here with loud kids for another year. Looking at my carpet that’s worn down to almost nothing and hasn’t been updated because every time we have extra money, something else goes wrong and we have to wait AGAIN. That’s life. This is it.
Throughout this whole journey, I have learned so much about ME.
I’ve learned that if I don’t get dressed and ready for the day in the morning, I won’t be productive that day. I’ve learned that it’s important for me to open all my blinds every morning so people know I’m home and I won’t be tempted to keep myself locked indoors all day. I’ve learned that if I don’t eat healthy in the morning, I’m pretty much doomed the whole day. I’ve learned that by 9pm, my body and mind is exhausted, so I try to put the kids down at 8:30pm so I don’t lose patience. I’ve learned that I thrive in summer and I struggle in winter so I have to work extra hard during the winter months to find joy. So I do.
What about you? What do you know about yourself?
What makes you happy? What makes you ache? What do you need to work on? What do you need to do to find joy?
Don’t get overwhelmed. Do one thing at a time. Take one step forward at a time. And if it means you take 5 steps back, then as long as you’re facing forward then you’re on the right track. Just don’t ever stop moving.
And you know what? There will be bad days. Lots of them. And that’s okay. Because there will also be lots and lots of good days.
Focus on YOU. Don’t look left or right at what everyone else is doing or wearing, or where they’re living or going, or how they’re doing it. Just look inside. Focus on you. And once you have you exactly where you want YOU to be, then you can start to look outward so that you can share in the joy and success of others. Don’t run faster than you have strength. Know YOU. Be true to YOU. Find YOU. Love YOU.
Finding joy is worth the struggle. And remember throughout the journey, however long it may be, that THIS is life. This is YOUR life. Life is happening today while we dream of tomorrow. And it’s so incredibly beautiful.