Disclaimer: These posts are dedicated to following along with the book "Deliberate Motherhood: 12 Key Powers of Peace, Purpose, Order & Joy," a compilation of essays on motherhood written by authors who contribute to the Power of Moms website. Each month has a different "power" to focus on with the purpose of finding peace, purpose, order and joy in the role of motherhood. I will be writing various posts each month based on that theme. You don't have to have the book to follow along though! March's theme is "Patience."
When I think about the month's theme "Patience" my mind obviously goes straight to how little of it I can have during the day toward my kids for one crazy reason or another. I'm happy to say I'm getting better and my patience levels have steadily grown. They aren't fully where I'd like them to be, but I'm making progress!
But, I'd like to talk about how patience relates to the bigger picture in terms of how a woman's life changes when she becomes a mother. And it is felt right away during the first night with a child...the lack of sleep. No longer are you able to just say "Phew! I'm tired, I'm off to bed now!" You feel tiredness down to your bones but can do nothing about it when you have a little one to care for and who needs you. You must have patience and know that sleep will come; just not NOW.
And it goes on like this as time marches forward. As a mother, there have been so many of my own personal desires, wishes, and even needs that have had to be set aside for the sake of spending appropriate and quality time with my kids. Furthermore, when children are ill, our lives get put on hold as we care for them and nurse them back to health.
Here are some things I've set aside:
-my daily reading habit (books and magazines are getting dusty!)
-my creation of paintings and drawings
-my hobby of photography
-my hobby of letterpressing stationery
-my interests in family history research
-watching favorite tv shows or movies in favor of getting much needed sleep
This, over time, can become very taxing on the spirit. You can start to feel like a servant. Like your own personal interests and goals simply don't matter. How long are you expected to patiently set your personal goals and dreams aside without any relief? This can then become depressing; making one feel sad, lost, unfulfilled, and restless.
When you aren't able to participate in personal joyful pursuits due to duties to the family, it can cause your patience levels to plummet. It's easy to become bitter, frustrated, and just burned out.
I've found the answer is easy: just do it. Make a list of your favorite activities and find a way to work them into the week during slivers of time here and there. Even just one or two little things are a balm to the tired soul. Here's my own example: I had put making my art waaaaaaay on the back burner when my kids came along. I used to spend full days designing, concepting, and creating. Full days? Ha! Knowing I didn't have this kind of time, I just stopped. Recently I had been feeling so lost without my joyful activity of creating, so I decided that even 10 minutes would have to suffice. And it does! Now, during Noah's morning nap, I try to carve out at least a half hour to sit and focus on a project. I know I won't finish, but I feel such satisfaction from starting something; working toward something that is MINE. And as the days go by, that project eventually gets completed and I get that rush of pride I'd come to miss. Sometimes I don't get to spend that time. Sometimes I only get a few minutes. I've learned to become more satisfied with the small bits of time that I CAN make my own and I'm so much happier because of it. I now have a whole bunch of my own art prints to show for it at my Me and Wee shop. Yay!
When children come into our lives, we get so many wonderful gifts from them. And it is important to remember that we were our own people before children, and will be long after they move away from us. We have to continue to feed our dreams. Please don't get me wrong. I LOVE being with my family. I love caring for my children. They feed my soul in a whole other way. I feel so lucky to be their mother and that I get to make memories with them. But, like anything, too much of a good thing...well, you get the point.
It takes a great amount of patience and restraint to be a mother. It isn't easy. But reward yourself and your patience levels with those nuggets of personal joyful activity and everything else will suddenly seem a bit easier.