The Most Interesting Mom in the World

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It was late October and still 104 degrees outside.  I walked through the aisles of my local Fry’s Marketplace, pushing one of those ridiculous car carts- loaded down with my near seven-year old, three-year old and the infamous “bucket” carseat that housed my latest addition, only a few weeks old.   The two oldest were smashed together and strapped in the front of the car.  I had snacks ready, a bottle for the baby and a list to pick up a few necessities that couldn’t wait till Dad got home from work.  Despite my best efforts to strategically orchestrate the trip to fall between the two nap times, and not over lunch time (trying to avoid the hunger whines) – I still found myself on the brink of a category 4 meltdown.  The baby began to whimper, and within a few minutes it became a full blown wail.  Trouble began to strike in car city as the two older ones grew tired of being smushed and smashed and he touched her juice box and she was elbowing him in the ribs.  I just had to grab one more thing.

I swiftly moved the baby into the Baby Bjorn and attempted to make a wide U-turn with the car cart.  No good.  The cardboard stand with about 50 boxes of Ritz crackers plummeted to the floor.   And I was done.  

I unstrapped my two little people, grabbed my diaper bag and bucket seat and walked out of that store.  Left the car cart, left the groceries and prayed no one was watching the security cameras at that moment.  I didn’t want to be flagged for my hit and run.  But I had to get out of there.   Sweat poured down my face as I loaded the kids in the car.  I turned the air on full blast and began to cry.   Why was this so hard?

Of course not every day was like that day, but I’m convinced that parenting small children is one of the hardest seasons a mom will ever walk through.  And most of us in this little community of moms are right in the middle of that season.  Sure, we’ve all had our heyday- our careers, and decades when we showered and slept through the night daily.   Each of our situations are unique, but we all face challenges.

Three years after my dreaded grocery store moment, I can {almost} safely say I’m on the other side of that season.   It’s easier now to see one of the biggest challenges I faced during those years was getting lost in the mundane, everyday tasks.  It was easy to see my role in life as one who filled everyone else’s proverbial cups with no time or energy left to replenish my own.  I remember certain days counting the second hand on the clock until bedtime, only to later pray that I could freeze time and learn to savor each moment of these sweet early years.  My life seemed to be swallowed up by piles of laundry, errands, and tasks.

And, for a little while, I believed the lie that I was insignificant.  And I know that I’m not alone.    Perhaps you too have been lost in your role as mom, or allowed isolation to lead to loneliness…

Here are three things I’ve learned to navigate the early years without losing my identity:

1. Don’t wait until your cup is empty.  I can’t stress enough how crucial it is to learn the art of self-care!!!

Everyone {this includes your husband and kids} learns how to treat you from the way that YOU treat you.  Be intentional about filling your cup.  For each of us that might look different.  Start by making a list of 5 things that fill you up {reading a good book, hiking, yoga, time spent in prayer, etc.}  Then set aside time to do those things!  It’s not realistic to think they can happen daily,  but if you aren’t making consistent deposits into your self, sooner or later you will run dry. 

2.  Make REAL LIFE  human contact with other women. 

You need friends. You need to connect with other women.  Not all of us are extroverts.  Some of us just need a close few, that’s fine!  But none of us were meant to walk through this season alone.  Don’t wait to be invited, invite!  Don’t wait to be included, include!  Initiate! Initiate! Initiate!  Coffee at Starbucks after the kids are in bed, play date at the splash pad or join a local book club.  Make time to sit across from another woman, celebrate her wins, listen to her challenges and be encouraged that you really are not alone!

3.  It’s not so much about WHAT you are, it’s more about WHOSE you are. 

When this season passes, it won’t matter how perfect your home looked.  No one will remember your empty laundry basket.  Your kids probably won’t even notice  if you’ve kept or lost that baby weight.  They will just remember that you were theirs.   Let us not be defined by our tasks, but rather the joy of who we belong to.  I am Angelina, Tyler and Jack’s mommy. I am Brad’s wife.  I belongto them!  Tasks do not bind us for life.  Accomplishments do not weave us into each other’s hearts, love does.  

No matter the mountain of mundane tasks, at the end of the day, we are loved for whose we are…and that makes you {and me} the most interesting mom in the world! 

5 COMMENTS

  1. Noelle,
    This is so great! I am glad that you have a platform to encourage young women who are struggling with the mundane. As someone who lives WAY on the other side of this season, I can testify to the fact that the little things, the small but sweet memories are the things recalled when your nest is EMPTY. The “collecting cans” walks for the recycling center – the making “homemade pickles” – the crazy running down the hallway ritual before bedtime – the popcorn picnic on the carpet on a rainy day – bedtime stories…you get the idea. Dirty laundry and diapers are rarely on the screen of our “MOM” memories. Be encouraged all you Mommies out there! This too will pass, and then you’ll wish it didn’t…

  2. I love this….I love your transparency….I love that you don’t pretend to have it all together. Being who you are gives others the freedom to be who they are too and not feel like they’re a lost cause. I can’t wait till I get to be a mom and have a breakdown in the grocery store 🙂 (sorta kidding but not really)

  3. What a wonderful post–relatable and true! My youngest two just turned four, so I’m kind of on my way out of this difficult stage you speak of; but your advice still rings true. I’ve been a mom for seven years, and it has taken me almost that long to learn how truly significant my job as mom is… and that I can fulfill my role even better when I do the three things you mentioned. This is advice that every mom needs to hear, no matter what stage they’re in. Thanks for sharing it so beautifully.

    Blessings,
    Angela (Des Moines Moms Blog Contributor)

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