I’m the mother of the three most incredible boys on the planet. Of course, I’m totally objective.
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I loved becoming a mother. I loved breastfeeding my babies, and then teaching them to eat real food. I loved rocking them in our glider and reading to them, and then teaching them to read. I loved taking them to mommy-and-me classes, and then sitting on the sidelines watching them play. I loved, and still love, laughing, playing, tickling, and cuddling with them. Most of all, I️ loved holding my babies. I continue to love holding my babies more than anything and always will no matter how big they continue to grow.
Healthy nutrition and exercise continued to be non-negotiables for me during and post-pregnancy. I’d pack up their diaper bag and my gym bag and schlep them to the local YMCA in the morning, rain, shine, or snow. Within just two weeks of giving birth to my 10 lb. 2 oz. bundle of joy, I slipped into my favorite pair of pre-baby jeans. I was feeling good.
The first year of being a mother I felt like I was on a high from all the oxytocin coursing through my veins and the infectious smiles my “angel baby” (that’s was my nickname for him) always had on his face. Then I had my second son. I truly believed my heart couldn’t get any fuller after I had my first, but miraculously, it did.
As they started to get a little older, life for me became more complicated. In my external world, things were amazing. Here I was married to the love of my life and blessed with gorgeous, healthy children. I lived in beautiful a home, and had lots of supportive family and friends in my life.
In my inner world, I began to experience a quiet struggle. Half the time, I felt truly happy. But the other half of the time, I struggled with a feeling of emptiness I couldn’t explain. I thought I was doing a good job taking care of myself, but as time went on, I’d wake up feeling moody and emotionally off balance.
At first, I attributed my emotional ups and downs to hormonal fluctuations. I sought help from a Naturopathic Physician who helped me get my hormones back in check. My mood stabilized for the most part, but my half-full worldview wasn’t syncing up with my half-empty heart.
I had no idea if any of my friends felt the same way. I didn’t want to admit how I was feeling for fear of being judged. I was afraid to be seen as ungrateful for all the blessings in my life. So I struggled to make sense of it on my own. But not with compassion. I’d beat myself up. After all, how could a person whose life is so complete feel incomplete?
My writing dream was as alive as ever, but I’d yet to get it off the ground. I got caught up in Mommyhood, and like Moms do, I prioritized everything else above what I wanted to do for me personally. I figured that my discontent must be due to the fact that I wasn’t honoring the constant tug going on in my heart. Sounds logical, simple. I know. But easy it wasn’t.
My husband encouraged me to hire someone for a few hours a week so I could write. But my Ego would tell me, loudly, that I shouldn’t spend money on a babysitter if I’m not bringing in the money to pay for her. I didn’t look at the money I’d be spending as an investment in myself, my purpose, my happiness, and the overall tone in my home. I saw it as a drain on my family. I tried to write at home with the boys around, but it proved counterproductive for me. So for a year, I allowed my self-created, self-imposed limiting thoughts keep me from doing what was obviously the best thing for me.
I don’t hide my emotions well. The good thing about possessing that trait is that I’m about as genuine as they come. The downside is even though I try to hide it, those closest to me know when I’m an emotional hot mess. So after a firm, loving push from my husband, I invested in my dream and hired someone to help me with my boys a few hours a week.
I carved out protected time to write, but I received continual interruptions from my deflator. You know that little voice that comes out of nowhere just when you think you’re about to take a leap forward? She’d whisper things like: “You don’t have the time for this. You can’t make this happen. You don’t really believe you can pull this off. At this point, you’re so far removed from the professional world, you have nothing to offer. And you have no business sense whatsoever. That’s a joke.” Then totally irrational Mommy guilt for leaving my children in caring, responsible hands would wrap itself around my heart and squeeze, hard. My other stay-at-home mom friends seemed to feel complete as a full-time mom. Why didn’t I?
I spent some time articulating why I wanted to write.
Connecting to my desire to help kids learn to develop a love for healthy living and to understand how to make choices that support their health and happiness fueled the fire in my belly.
For the next two years, I spent a few hours a week writing and rewriting the story that began to form when my oldest son started playing with superhero toys. What child didn’t love superheroes? I still remember watching Batman and Superman on TV with my siblings when we were little. Regardless of age or gender, superheroes inspire. And that’s what I wanted this story to do.
Just as I did, you may assume that writing was the magic pill that would fill the void I felt inside. My heart shone as bright as the sun when I would sit down to write. But for some reason, this light didn’t transcend into other areas of my life the way I thought it would.
No matter how hard I analyzed things, I couldn’t figure it out.
Why was my energy level so up and down even though I ate so healthy and exercised regularly?
Why did I only feel happy some of the time even though I was so in love with my family and finally writing regularly?
I wanted to wake up each day feeling excited about my day. I longed to feel an innate sense of joy. I wanted my heart to feel completely full the way it did when my son was born.
I found myself becoming short-tempered with my kids, and constantly on the defensive with my husband. When the boys would act up, it was like a demon took over my body. I could hear my mouth yelling while my head was telling me to calm down. But once I started yelling, I didn’t know how to stop it. Unfortunately, the boys listened when I yelled, which reinforced that reactive behavior. But it sucked the positive energy right out of me and left me with a guilt hangover that was harder to shake than any sugar hangover ever was. Sugar only hurt me. But yelling too much could squelch their bright little spirits and undermine their confidence. I’d harbor the guilt and my mood would be ruined the rest of the day.
I hate to shop. I can’t remember why, but I needed to go to the mall. It takes 30 minutes to get there without traffic. I didn’t listen to podcasts at time time, but I decided to find one to listen to during my drive. I stumbled onto Katie Dalebouts’ original podcast, called “Wellness Wonderland”. Oh yeah. It sounded totally up my alley. Boy was I right.
Katie’s episode centered around one specific word. This word sparked an epiphany in me that helped me discover what it was that I had been overlooking all along.
Read Part 4 to discover what that missing piece was and if it’s something you, too, have been missing in your life!
Does any of this resonate with you? I’d love to hear! Please share your comments below.