As a parent–in my case, as a stay-at-home mom–there are all kinds of lessons that we have to learn. Initially, it’s kind of basic. Keep tiny human alive. Feed tiny human. Bathe tiny human. Change tiny human’s diaper. Whether you have experience or not, you just do the things.
As your tiny human gets bigger, the basic turns into much more. Feeding a tiny human becomes worrying about allergies to foods, if they are meeting milestones in weight, or whether your tiny human should be vegan or paleo or pescetarian! The list can legitimately go on for days of all the thoughts, worries, and fears that come with being a parent. We can get so lost and caught up in our goal to be the best mom or dad that we forget who we actually are!
My sister-in-law is amazing. On top of being a blonde bombshell, she also lives super healthy and has two amazing kiddos, accompanied by a beautiful home with an all-around awesome marriage. She does all the things for her kids, and it is well documented on her IG. I’ll admit openly that she and I have never spent much quality time together because of our distance apart, but we so enjoy watching each other on Instagram or Facebook to bridge the cross-country gap. But dudes, that’s her Insta-life. Sure, in her pictures she’s coiffed and gorgeous and has her $!*# together. I almost get jealous sometimes of how perfect she looks doing it all. Unicorn Mom Syndrome is the name I’ll give this. So I follow and unfollow, depending on my mood.
Recently, out of nowhere, my husband Elliot asked me, “Did you see that Shannon went horseback riding as fast as she’s ever gone before?” I didn’t understand this manstatement that came from literally the sky, so I went to my feed to check out her life. Turns out the unicorn isn’t real, y’all. It just ain’t. She’s happy in her life, and what she portrays on IG is legitimately happening and relevant. But guess what? She bleeds blood and she cries tears too!
To sum up her post, I’ll just say that she was feeling mombie-ish and decided to do something about it rather than marinate in it. She adores her life, marriage, and all the things, but felt flat in regards to Shannon. You see, I have no ordinary sister-in-law. My sissy from another missy is a danger seeker, a shark swimmer, a surf and beach junkie, and an adventure gangster. She’s Shannon. Shannon who hiked on an active volcano, Shannon who goes whitewater rafting! Scary stuff!
While parenting is an adventure unto itself, she admitted to her husband one day that she felt like she couldn’t find Shannon. Of course, my non-ordinary sister-in-law has a husband like no other. A philosopher and extraordinary soul himself, he came back with, “Do something that scares you.” As a thrill seeker who’s done things like skydive, she wasn’t unhappy with her life, she just needed a little bit more badassedness injected into her spirit so that she could remember that she’s not just a mom, wife, daughter, and sister.
So she did something about it. She posted a picture of the neck of a horse and she described riding the horse as fast as she could. Adrenaline pumped right back into her blood and it freed her. You could see it on her face in the pictures that followed.
Seeing her freedom helped free me, but not because I exulted in her misfortune of feeling lost. I realized I had wrongly put her up on this pedestal of perfection. I compared myself to her because we are family, and in the process, I had killed my self esteem. To witness her honesty about being in a funk, and then waking herself up, empowered me to shake my own self up!
Her feed is still full of beauty and love, accompanied by a killer body, sun-kissed skin, and great hair. But guess what? She also folds laundry, cleans counters, changes diapers, cooks dinner, drinks wine, and she doesn’t pee in privacy. Things we all do, but in her own way, and that’s great. Have you ever heard the phrase “Envy is suicide”? That was true for me and how I had viewed her life.
When I interviewed her for this article, she said something that really resonated with me. Something that may even help you:
”Isn’t that kind of the biggest secret amongst us stay-at-home moms? Our biggest fear is that even given the freedom and time, we may not actually know ourselves like we think we do. The whole thing changes you. To the core. You have told yourself this narrative of who you are for as long as you can remember…but then if you are truly honest with yourself, that person you thought you were may not actually be.”
So wake up! You are way more than just a mom or a dad. One day, those babies will go on their own journey and leave you in the dust, and that’s okay. If you have nothing left for yourself, when they’re gone, you’ll be lost. Trying to figure out who you are after eighteen years or so of raising children can be tough. Start by making subtle changes to figure out a way that you can get closer to you. Maybe it’s meditation, reading, laying out for a tan, exercising, knitting, journaling, singing, creative writing, taking a dance class, or prayer.
Whatever it is that you need to do to, know that you are valued. You are valuable. Your Creator made you for more than you could ever imagine. You will find that your dreams pale in comparison with what you’re truly capable of, given the right motivation.
“As iron sharpens iron, one person sharpens another.” – Proverbs 27:17
Reality Changing Observations:
1. If you see a fellow human in a slump or funk, how can you help spark their fire?
2. What is something about yourself that you’ve lost? How can you find it?
3. Name five things you could do today to show yourself that you are still thriving underneath it all.