Everywhere I go I am surrounded by the fact that I am a mom. Whether I am with Riley, trip over a toy that starts singing nursery rhymes, plan hangouts with friends around nap schedules or have the monitor by my side while hanging out with my husband at the end of the day, this role is inescapable. Not that I want to escape it. I love these reminders! I love seeing Riley’s little outfits in the clean laundry pile along with mine and Jordan’s. I love seeing teeny little purple and zebra print sunglasses next to our “grown up” sunglasses in the tray in our car. I love the reminder that this adorable, sweet-spirited little person is a part of our life and I am thankful for the constant realization that I am not just an individual but part of a family of 3 :). But often it is too easy to forget that I am more than just a Mommy. Every now and then I will meet up with a friend sans baby and come home refreshed by the realization that I am a person! I have thoughts, ideas, passions, and hobbies that are not related to having a child. There are things that were true about me before having a baby that are still true about me today; they just get buried beneath nursing, changing diapers, making funny faces or noises, and incessant reading about infants and child rearing.
Today my husband has given me a “day off” from mommy world! Of course reality means that I still have to stop by the apartment a time or two to feed Riley, but other than that I have a day to myself! My plans for this day include:
- coffee and breakfast at Brueggar’s where I will spend a couple of hours meeting with God, reading and writing
- getting an aromatherapy massage at a spa
- indulging in magazines and books at Barnes & Noble
- maybe a little shopping or pool time 🙂
- definitely a jacuzzi bath & a glass of wine at the end of the day!
I even decided to forgo my normal daily attire of gym clothes (now whether or not that means I actually go to the gym everyday… well, let’s just not worry about that.) and put on something cute and trendy! I feel great already!
Sometimes I wonder if they way we engage in “mom world” doesn’t help with this need to be a person outside of motherhood duties. Jordan pointed out an interesting observation recently: he noticed that there seems to be this mom culture where mom’s are constantly reading about parenthood. Parenting books, articles, and blog obsessions seem to take up any margin in a mom’s day. How is it that we feel like we have no time to ourselves, and yet we have somehow found the time to read the 17th book on infant sleep or toddler discipline, 5 articles that someone had a link to on their facebook status, and 10 blogs that we follow and check daily? When I say “we” I mostly have myself in mind. I am totally “that” mom. And I’m not sure I noticed it until my husband was loving and gracious enough to point it out. It is good to be informed as a mother, but is it really healthy to be this informed and read this much about it? First of all, over-reading about these things can tend to make a mother more insecure an more confused than she was to begin with. Second of all, is it not just continuing to feed this (perhaps subconscious) idea that our identity is in being a mother?
Jordan had a great suggestion of cycling through different subject matter that I read about. For example: after each parenting book I read (I’m about to finish “Gospel-Powered Parenting”), I would then read a book about God, then maybe a book about marriage, then a book about some important issue before I read another parenting book. If I want to read online articles, I should try checking out news websites, the Gospel Coalition, the Persecuted Church website, or something else interesting that has nothing to do with parenting before just constantly going to my default cyber mommy world. I recognize the irony in blogging about how mom’s should do less blog reading :). But I’m not saying blogs are bad, they can be really good for us! Some blogs (Like the “Parenting Illustrated with Crappy Pictures” blog- if you haven’t heard of it, definitely check it out) make me laugh my face off, and laughing is so good for the soul! Others help me to keep up with friends, and still others challenge and encourage me in edifying ways. Reading books and articles about parenting are good for us too! I am not suggesting that they are bad. What I’m saying is that it can be easy to get sucked into only reading things about motherhood, and this can cause us to find our identity in motherhood, idolize motherhood, feel pressured or insecure, and perhaps eventually even become resentful because we feel so consumed by mommy world that we suffocate. We need to work on growing and developing as a whole person, not just as a mom. The Bible says that our relationship with God should always be first, our relationship with our spouse second (if married), and our children third. It’s easy to forget that I am a child of God and a wife of Jordan before I am a mother of Riley. I want to be able to learn something spiritually and connect with the Lord without just thinking about how to apply it to parenting. I want to be able to go on a date with Jordan and talk about something other than Riley or the most recent parenting philosophy I’ve read about. I want to dress myself cute and not just my daughter. I want to have a prayer life that intercedes for the world, not just Riley. I want my daughter to see that I am a woman who is desperately in love with her God, head over heels for her husband, knowledgeable of the world around her, compassionate for those in need, and a sinner who makes mistakes but always humbly falls into the grace of God. I don’t want her to see a woman who is obsessed with her child, lets her run the family, has no time with her husband (or easily gets frustrated with him), is ignorant of the world around her, has no hobbies on her own, and has lost herself somewhere along the path of parenthood. Motherhood is a selfless and sacrificial job for sure! But I’m starting to think that letting “Mommy World” rule our lives is lazy more than it is lovingly sacrificial. I also think we can be selfless in motherhood while still maintaining a healthy self. I am going to try to figure out what that looks like. Do any of you more experienced moms out there have any advice or ways you’ve learned to do this?