If someone had told me seven years ago, the day I saw that first positive pregnancy test, that I was about to embark on one of the most rewarding, exciting, joy-filled adventures in life, I don’t think I would’ve believed them. Who in the world would have thought I would ever be worthy of doing such a thing? Yet here I am!
But see? There was a catch. While being a mom (and, in particular, a stay-at-home mom) is all of those wonderful things and more, there are the dark, secret sides to it that no one talks about. Rewarding? Yes. But also challenging. Exciting? Absolutely! But also full of so much monotony and mundaneness, each day looking just like the last. Joy-filled? Definitely, but sometimes it seems to be more tears-mixed-with-frustrations-filled.
Through these past five years as a SAHM I’ve had to redefine myself in many ways (as mom, wife, friend) more times than I care to count. It seems that with each growing pain my kids have, I find myself going through my own growing pains. Whether it is finding my wings in a new place we move to, or learning how to juggle yet another little one in our already busy life, or simply finding time to breathe for myself when there just doesn’t seem to be enough hours or energy in a day.
My newest growing pain? Lately, I have been struggling to find joy in doing “this”, day-in and day-out. To be honest, there are some days when I wonder if I’m really cut out for “this”. “This”, as in being home with my kids 24/7. How do I find the joy in the monotony and mundaneness that comes with being home all day every day? Because at times, even with all of these wonderful little people around me, I feel lonely.
So that is my current growing pain: Finding joy in the loneliness. I don’t expect to wake up one day, suddenly overcome with the secret “formula” to having it figured out. Just like teaching our little ones how to walk, we can’t expect to be experts at any one thing immediately; we have to take those small, baby steps before we can run. It is a slow, grueling process that takes time, effort, thoughtfulness, and practice. Time plus a goal plus effort equals success (or at least I hope it does in this case).
The first baby step I need to take is to find where these feelings of loneliness happen and try to counter them. Loneliness finds me in the late night soothing of a little one, when no one else is around to witness or notice my doings. It finds me in the unspoken conversations I have each day, counting down the minutes until my husband comes home and I can have an actual adult conversation. It finds me when I realize that if I had a job outside of the home I would have the camaraderie of co-workers. It finds me when I’m fighting my own fights with myself over being a good mother, and whether what I’m doing is really all that important. It finds me when I’m having a rough day with the kids and I want nothing more than to have a friend call me up to say “hi”, or talk with me over a hot cup of coffee, reassuring me that I’m not the only one that has rough days.
And, strange enough, loneliness doesn’t come alone. No, those feelings of loneliness bring along a taste of dissatisfaction and discontentedness. Ah, that. That right there’s what is truly robbing me of my joy. The feelings of loneliness fester and ooze over time until I eventually become more content with the idea of how my life COULD be, how I think I could be happiest, instead of learning to be content with how my life currently is.
When I focus so much on what I think might make me happier or feel more fulfilled I lose sight of how the simple, “little” things in my life are not only good enough but they are exactly what I need. I’m not ok with simply going through the motions of day-to-day life; I want to find the joy again, the things that make me realize that the life I am living, the role I am playing, are worthwhile and important. The joy in serving my family; the joy in those (few-and-far-between) moments I get to spend with friends and loved ones; the joy in simply fulfilling the purpose for my life.
The old saying “The grass is greener on the other side” rings true. But I challenge that old saying and am claiming: “If the grass looks greener on the other side, it’s time to water my lawn.” The place I need to take those first baby steps, the place I need to make a change, is in my heart. Because until I make that heart-change, I will never be satisfied or content; I will always struggle with my feelings of loneliness and wanting more.
These little people I have the opportunity to wake up to each morning are enough. The dishes I wash endlessly, the laundry I wash and fold over and over again, are enough. The quiet moments I spend in bed each night, reflecting on the rough/good/happy/sad day I just had, are enough. The cherished times spent with friends and family are enough. The boo-boos I kiss, the fights I referee, the crusts I cut off sandwiches are enough. I want my kids to know they can be joy-filled and feel fulfilled no matter where God puts them in life. I need them to see that I am happy where I’m at, that what I have been given is enough, so they can learn to be happy where they are at. “I’ve got the joy, joy, joy, joy down in my heart!”
Finding the joy won’t come over night, and I know I will still have moments where I feel in a slump. But I also know that each day I take those baby steps and “fall”, I’m that much closer to running.