24.1.17

Finding Myself

In the span of less than two years, I've become a wife and a mother with no absolutely no background experience. People say you'll be a great wife or a great parent, but honestly, the truth is you'll be naïve wife and a tolerably insane parent because you literally have no idea what you are doing. Nothing can prepare you until you have to love through an argument or watch a baby suck 500 calories out of your tired body day after day after day. I say this because I live on cereal and chicken nuggets.


I feel very strongly about staying at home with my babe, but at the same time...I sorta hate it. Just hear me out before you gasp in disbelief. Ever since we moved and I become a mother, I realized my life was nothing like how it was before. My daily schedule no longer revolves around school or work, and the majority of my social interactions are with a two month old baby who doesn't even know her name! I no longer have access to a piano, I have no time for spontaneous creativity (unless I feel like making that a yearly project), and kudos to me if I have enough time/energy to make burnt GRILLED CHEESE SANDWICHES.
(just kidding. I like the excuse of cooking simple meals since I absolutely loathe cooking and dishes.)


My calendar has about three things written down for one month and my nearby friends are the random guys Aidan brings home from school or work. Since video games and ghost pepper challenges aren't really "my thing" I'll just label them as acquaintances who know me as "the wife" (who occasionally comes out of hiding to grab a glass of water.)


I had so much talent (if I say so myself) in various departments. I could've gone on to nursing since I had my CNA degree, or studied at the university downtown for music. Instead, I cry on the couch because I haven't slept in three days, my baby is pooping green poop and crying unless she's nursing 24/7. Oh, and the never-ending laundry is five days old and still unfolded. Believe me, there is nothing more heinous in my mind than staring at unfolded laundry helplessly for a week. Ask my husband.


Now don't get me wrong. We had a mutual agreement on Aidan's career change. I knew I wouldn't see him a lot and that we'd have more of a struggle financially. It took me a while to be okay telling the Walmart cashier I had to scan a foodshare card and it's a hassle constantly keeping track of loans, car schedules, and denied healthcare claims. I guess I owe myself an, "I told you so!" for how stressful and lonely everything turned out to be while school is in session.


All of this has been tumbling through my brain this first month of motherhood and it seriously put a damper on my precious little tater tot and the joys of being a mom. I felt absolutely guilty for disliking my new life as a 24/7 mom, because I really do love my baby to death. I have no regrets about Ella - I just really hate being a mom sometimes! Out of all the baby hype, I had yet to meet an honest mother who felt the same way (if such other mothers exist? Or maybe I'm just an exceptionally bad, ungrateful mom?) Plus, the lady at the mall told me I was waaaaay to young for a baby.


My emotional bubble finally popped one night as Ella slept (finally!) and I spent a good hour crying my eyeballs out while Aidan listened to my tale of woe. Who am I, besides just a wife? Or just another tired mother doing boring chores all day and every day? How have I become such an annoying killjoy who's biggest concern is the dirty dishes in the sink and clipping diaper coupons? I hate, hate, hate this new person I've become!


To be honest, I haven't found the answer yet. I'm working on that. But I've started to make small victories by learning how to balance my passions with my new fulltime job as a mother. I think I'm starting to understand "baby language" a little better, and Ella has begun to find a life outside of mommy's everlasting arms. :) Obviously, I will never go to school for music or nursing, but I've started plans to make some extra money and maybe save up for a piano so I can continue my passion of playing and teaching.


As for finding joy, I think I'm realizing that anyone can be a good mother - joylessly - but I need to start finding joy in something besides life itself. Perhaps that's a no-brainer to you, but motherhood was my pinnacle of perfection and it turned out to be disappointing and unfulfilling. Not that it isn't wonderful, but my human nature reaches the top of the mountain and sees everything else I don't have and now something else has to be my perfect "someday" dream. So yeah, I've learned that life is always going to be unfulfilling so I need to start looking towards the one thing that's supposed to fill this joyful void I have. And I know full well it isn't the perfect profession, perfect family, or perfect husband.


My goal for this new year is to find joy and contentment and that probably involves a deep-cleaning revamp with my spiritual life. Because I admit, I have yet to balance God in the mix of being a wife and a mother. And while I'm working on that, I also need to get back into what makes me me instead of losing myself in the cloud of depression and baby blues.


I really am blessed with a wonderful husband and a stinking adorable baby, and we're doing just fine despite our odd circumstances at the moment. I just nee to get this negativity off my chest and start over again. Or as my eight year old self would say, "try, try, again."


In fact, I'm proudly typing this while holding my chubby babe who is probably going to spit up all over the keyboard in a second. But we're gonna be okay. :)

15 comments

  1. I just wanted to say thank you for being honest about what you're going through right now!

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    1. @ Kristin - I had this post scheduled, and I had been thinking about it all weekend debating whether I should publish it or not. :) But I figured a little raw honesty never hurt anyone...

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  2. I came across your blog only recently, but I've been so impressed with your honesty & humor. Wishing you luck & joy as you continue to explore motherhood & life :)

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    1. @ Emily - thank you! I'm definitely only beginning to chop through the safari of motherhood. :D

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  3. You're on the right track, Bethany! First, before anything else, you need to get back to who you are in Christ. I have yet to meet a woman who has figured out how to meet the Lord in His Word and in prayer on a daily basis, who is a mother of small children. Since that is the only way to have true joy and true contentment there must be a way...God didn't just save us and leave us here to fend for ourselves, right? Over the years, I've learned some things that could be of help, but this is already long...maybe we could email or I could just come back here and type some more in another one of these little boxes. LOL Also, let's be praying for a piano for you...now that's a prayer I've seen answered more than once! God made you to to be the pianist you are and He not only owns the cattle on a thousand hills and the wealth in every mine, He owns all the pianos, too! I'm praying...

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    1. @ Grammie - I love you!! I would love to email when I have my hands free for a bit (Ella is snoozing in her swing right now...) I was thinking of you as I wrote this, as you and Tina both got married young and sorta got flung into motherhood as well. Both of you turned out so fabulous, and that's encouraging. :)

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  4. Hang in there, sweet Mama! I'm prayin' for you!

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  5. Hi Bethany, I just randomly found your blog and love the honest talk. As a mom who has been there, trust me when I say IT GETS BETTER. Staying at home right now is in no way a measure of your intelligence, value or identity. Random things that kept me sane when I was in the trenches of new motherhood with no money at all:
    1) Scheduling self care. It might be doing your hair or nails or shaving. For me, every Wednesday, I made a point to take a bath, exfoliate, and rub myself with lotion (or self-tanner, shhh!). This sounds vain and silly, but the boost of confidence is worth it.
    2) Date night once a week, on the same night. While you won't leave the house, let your husband be in charge and "take you out", as in plan the meal and choose a movie to watch or game to play. That gives you something to look forward to, and gently nudges a husband to cherish his wife. Only happy things can be discussed! Bring back good memories of your courtship and projects you have in the future, or just have a smart, adult conversation about the movie or politics.
    3) Set tiny goals for yourself, such as reading a book. Go to your library, choose a book, and give yourself a month to read it. You could write a blog review if that motivates you!
    4) Schedule phone calls with family and friends, and enter them in your calendar. They should definitely count as an accomplishment in your day.
    5) Find a way to connect with local moms. You'll discover that so many women with many talents are equally stuck at home for a while. I went to weekly La Leche League meetings for a while, and far more than the breastfeeding talk, it was nice to be around other frazzled moms of newborns.
    6) Last but not least, go easy on yourself, you've just done the hardest thing a woman could do. Revel in the fact God loves you just as you are. Life is long and there is plenty of time to accomplish many of your dreams. My mom became a school nurse after raising her 7 kids, and she was amazing at it!
    Keep posting, and I'll keep you guys in my prayers.
    Annie

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    1. I'm not a mommy, but I second everything Annie said! Those things have made a HUGE difference in my ability to slog through horrible weeks like this one (when every single kindergartner had a meltdown and the only fix was to cancel school and everyone go cry).

      Particularly, DATE NIGHT. DO IT. You guys have a crazy busy schedule, but anchor your relationship around THAT NIGHT. Erich and I don't talk about frustrating things on that night, I don't talk about my kids, we just do something fun and relaxed and allow no dishes or relationship problems or life stresses to interrupt. It's made a world of difference in our ability to connect and be there for each other during the rest of the week, too.

      I've made a goal of reading 50 books (thanks, Goodreads) and have made writing my yearlong project. Our family are perfectionists, so I think we need to be told over and over again that our goals and hobbies don't have to be huge, perfect, or world-changing.

      AND DRINK WATER. Or do whatever it is that fights off fatigue. Life feels grimmer for me when I'm dehydrated.

      And call me. ;)

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  6. lol - I kid you not, I just wrote a post about my glumness over my never-done cleaning schedule + my own revelation that it's okay.

    Apparently all new moms go through little down times.❤️

    It doesn't feel like it, and people (BELIEVE ME) are very good at being discouraging, but raising Ella is one of the most selfless, noble and eternally important thing you could ever do.

    And I agree - get back to your source of strength. Prayin (with the baby nursing away!) is where my blues are eased.

    You got this, girl!❤️

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  7. Hey there!
    I so get you!
    As a wife and a fresh mommy, and also a woman with a huge personality, I feel soooo depressed as if my identity is lost in being a wife and a mom. Honestly, just like you said, I love being both but sometimes it feels like I'll be stuck in this chapter forever and never be able to feel like a complete woman again, with passions and hobbies and interests. Yep, the struggle is real and I am so happy someone else knows how it feels! (And huge thumbs up for the patient husbands who don't hate us yet. Me, at least)
    Thank you for sharing this. It really made my day!

    Ruxee

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  8. Oh, my word, Bethany, I could have written this. Being a mom felt like losing myself at first - putting someone so desperately needy above my own needs time after time, sacrificing not only sleep but showers, creativity, events, prettiness ... you name it, we give it up. And it was so earth-shaking, because all this time I thought once I became a wife and mom, I'd be set with peace and fulfillment for life. Haha. So I'm (still) coming to grips with the fact that this world is not my home. My family are not my eternal joy. Christ is my joy, and my home is with him. That pinnacle will NOT disappoint.

    On a note of earthly encouragement - it gets better!!!!!! My little one is almost nine months, and I feel like I have my feet under me. I am playing the piano regularly (after not having one for a year and a half), working on my book, and able to take interest and delight in stretching our food budget to include excellent, nourishing foods (or trying to anyway). I'm also hoping to start teaching piano or an English class one day a week next school year. It gets easier. IT GETS EASIER!

    And yes, it's lonely, and it teaches us a level of self-sacrifice I never knew existed. It is true dying to self - even the good things about your self, like your artistic expressions and personal space, for a little while. But think of this: "The one who sows to please his flesh, from the flesh will reap destruction; but the one who sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life. Let us not grow weary in well-doing, for in due time we will reap a harvest, if we do not give up." (Galatians 6:8-9)

    We are doing the world's greatest work ... that's why it's the world's hardest. If you ever want to use a nap-time or two to exchange emails with me, I would love it. ayseewhy at gmail.com.

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  9. @ Allison - Ah, girl!! I'm glad you get me. I would love to email back and forth! :)

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  10. Bethany!!!! I felt this way about marriage and graduating college. I felt so lost, as if the Bailey I was had completely disappeared. And this is my biggest fear of having a child -- losing myself again, not being able to find balance, and not having weekends and evenings off. :P In other words, you're doing a hard, good thing, and you're brave to do it, and I KNOW it'll get better, as all things in life eventually do.

    And I just want to encourage you that all the pieces of you are still there. The hard part is putting them back together again in a way that makes sense. You can still play piano. You can still go to college, even. And all of that will start coming together eventually.

    I've found, personally, that happiness is in the balance of many good things. Even "finding your identity in Christ" can't replace the need for community, creative outlets, self-care, etc., and all of those things in a balance. I stopped looking for that "one thing" that'll suddenly be "the arrival point of my existence" that'll exclusively bring me happiness. It isn't just one thing, and it isn't anything done perfectly, either.

    Just keep swimming, love. I'm right there with you.

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  11. Oh man... this is all me too! Email coming your way (hopefully soon)!

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Maira Gall