We all do it. We schedule ourselves into a cave where we feel as if we can no longer see the light at the end of the tunnel, and we attach our sense of self to the titles and roles that we fill: Mom, Coach, Caregiver, Wife, President, Secretary, Treasurer, Committee Member etc. We can all attach a plethora of titles and roles to our lives. Some of these roles are more important to us than others and this generally shows through the decisions we make concerning what we are willing to make time for within our schedules.
One thing I want to say before really getting started: This post is not meant to diminish your role in your family or in the lives of others, it is more of a reminder that those are not the only things that you are. You are more.
Here's the thing...before you were mom, wife, whatever...you were YOU. Even if you were "finding yourself," you were still yourself. At what point in our lives do we decide that who we are is second, third, forth, fifth...twenty-seventh to the roles we have assumed over the years? Is it when we marry? Is it when we start a career? Is it when we have children? I really don't know but I will say that I see too many moms that that seem to have forgotten their self-worth along the road of life. We put ourselves last-after all the things that we already do not even have time for. I'm not saying that we should always put ourselves first either but rather that we need to put ourselves first occasionally to have balance in our lives.
Here's the thing people, we all doubt ourselves in our roles as moms, daughters, wives etc. but yet we seem to forget to doubt if we are being who God made us to be. Did God want you to be a wife? mother? coach? Sure, you bet-we should all strive to serve others at some point in our lives; just don't forget to serve yourself, or you will have nothing left to share with others. We don't buy a car and drive it for months on end without filling the tank and yet we do that to ourselves constantly.
Think you need to be a better wife/mom/etc? Try doing something for yourself without feeling guilty about it. Give yourself some time to read, go to a movie, make it a habit to have time to yourself at least once a week or once every two weeks. The truth is, if we value the importance of something, we make time for it. It's that simple. If you don't place value on having time to be you, you simply won't make time for it. If you never make time for yourself so that you can grow into the person that God made you, you are doing yourself, those around you, and the world a huge disservice. In contrast, if you do make time for yourself, you are setting a positive example for your children (not abandoning them); they need to see that carving out time for one's self is an important aspect of our lives.
We like to lie to ourselves to convince ourselves that it's okay to continue to put ourselves last. We tell ourselves-some day when the kids are older-some day when the kids graduate-some day when the kids have families of their own-but if we always say some day, it will never come. We lie and tell ourselves that we will have more time but the truth is our days are numbered. Not one single person knows the number of days they have, and some people would try to make this a point against the point I am trying to make. The truth is, if you are on your deathbed in a hospital and you know it's the end, you are going to want to feel some satisfaction in the life that you lived-that you lived it serving others but also serving yourself-being the person that God made you. The last thing anyone wants is to spend all their final moments on earth running through all the things they would have done differently because the truth is-at that point-it's too late for that.
I am not saying that you are a terrible mother or wife because you spend all of you time serving your family; I am saying that you can better serve you family by building yourself up. Being a mom is damn hard. It can make you question and second guess yourself at every turn. Some days it tears you down; other days it lifts you up. You need something in your life that can ease the stress of those tough times. You need something that can steady the rough seas of life because we don't know how rough the waters can get until we are in the thick of it.
What a lot of this comes down to is how would you recover from a devastating loss? The loss of a husband or the loss of a child? I won't pretend that I know how to grieve through one of these losses because I haven't, and my heart truly goes out to all those that have. What I will say is this: If you spent every moment in your life simply filling a role, what happens when you no longer have to fill it in the same way? Does your world crumble and fall apart? With every tragic loss we experience, a piece of us goes with it, but we must have something left after the dust settles. Too many people experience something devastating and never recover, some of these people take their own lives, some take the lives of others, and some live as a shell of who they thought they were. Be you, know you, have self-worth holding you up when everything else is pulling you down. Know that you are important outside of the roles that you regularly use to define yourself.
I won't pretend that I discovered all of this on my own. I actually learned a lot of it through my extensive nonfiction reading over the past nine years-not "self help books"-but rather the stories of people who lived their lives and learned something along the way. As I have spent the past several years reading their stories and trying to apply much of what I learned to my own life, I have found a lot of happiness.
I don't share this post with you because I'm dying (although technically-we all are) or anything like that. I share these thoughts with you because I am a person living happily as a mom, wife, teacher and, most importantly, myself. Be awesome, be you, you won't regret it.
(Just a note, while this post largely addresses moms/wives/women, this is for everyone. Just pretend it says "Dad" or "Husband" ;) )