Rediscovering Self: Finding Fulfillment Amidst the Unknown

December 08, 2021

When Loneliness Settles In

Being an introverted stay at home mom is like having an insurance policy for loneliness. Spending every day devoting yourself to your kids is an incredible gift and an even greater responsibility. It starts off novel… and it’s scary, thrilling, humbling, joyful, and fun. Sleep deprivation settles in, though, and soon your motivation to put clothes on is at an all-time low…let alone the drive to shower. What’s the point?

On occasion, though, you do. Shower, that is. And you get dressed, and do your hair. Maybe you’re meeting another mom for a playdate at the park. Or perhaps your child has a class to attend, and you go too. You might even be meeting up with a friend, sans baby. There’s some brevity to those days. You feel a little bit like yourself, like she’s still in there, that part of you that you still recognize.

Everyday Job Security

Time passes and in what feels like a blink – you’ve been a mom for 15 years. You have more children by this point. There is no measuring stick for how much you love them, or for how proud of them you are. When the littlest begins Kindergarten, people start asking you what you’re going to do with yourself. You never have to look far for things to do, you say. Because it’s true.

Your work is never done, you have great job security within the walls of your own home. In a notebook buried somewhere beneath bill stubs and insurance explanations, you have a running list of “to do’s.” It often feels like that list will never be accomplished. Like a lot of other things you think about, too.

Hidden In Plain Sight

Grocery shopping, cleaning out the fridge, paying bills, doing laundry for 5 people, vacuuming, mopping, cleaning the bathrooms, reorganizing the pantry, clearing out your closet, cooking dinner, making cookies for the bake sale, exercising the dog, keeping the cat out of the Christmas tree, doing the dishes, emailing the school counselor about class changes, volunteering at the schools…the list continues and it all takes ALL day. Every day. The basics.

You know all your other mom friends are doing the same things, and more. A lot of the time, you don’t even feel like you’re keeping up. You’re kind of like that notebook beneath the paperwork: hidden in plain sight.

You know there’s more to you. The feeling stirs inside and whispers invitations to come in, stay a while, and get reacquainted. But how, and when, should you do that? It feels like the world around you decided who you are already, so who are you to challenge that identity?

Like Brands on Cattle

Reputations in a small town feel a lot like brands on cattle. Stamped on your name, people think they know who you are and where you came from. In no time, the brand sums you up. Forget about speaking for yourself. You’ve been around too long, everyone knows who you are. Except… they don’t. Not at all.

A craving lingers inside of you, to break free. Sometimes, you go for a long drive, just to escape the way you think about yourself when you stay at home. You talk to God along the way, asking what you need to do to feel whole. You wonder all the time how you are measuring up, because you perpetually reach—without really knowing what you’re reaching for.

Pass on the Peace

Listening to podcasts helps. Especially if you’re doing it while being productive with housework, because then you feel like you’ve earned your worth. Sermons stream through your headphones, reminding you you’re already whole, there is nothing “to do” to become whole. Momentarily, you feel encouraged and in a state of mind that feels a little closer to what you imagine peace being like. You share the episode with another mom, a friend. Pass on the peace, you think.

Purpose is a Heavy Word

Purpose is a heavy word, as Lindsay recently pointed out. “We need a different word,” she stated, wisely. When your babies are young, even though you lose the will to shower on many days, you feel purposeful. Babies, by and large, are helpless. So being mom is a big deal. When your children get older, they are more self-sufficient to be sure…and while it can be easy to believe they need you less in every way, that’s not entirely true.

Emotionally, spiritually, cognitively…they very well need you more. But during the day, when they are at school and you are free to fill your time however you see fit, the task is almost daunting. What if what you choose to spend your day doing is not the right thing, or collection of things? What if you should be doing…more? The questions outsiders ask you ring in your ears—“What are you going to do with all your free time??”

A Landscape of Nothingness

The pressure you put on yourself to discover your purpose is mind numbing. Like hot magma compressed inside a volcano, the tangled thought web inside your head erupts in an explosion, leaving a vast landscape of nothingness. Where do you go from here? What’s next? What do you even like doing anymore?

Here is what I am learning: even the phases when we feel we don’t have a purpose—have purpose. The seasons where we feel kept in the dark about what our next move should be, are actually vital to our growth and development. Like a seed planted in the cool, sunless soil, awaiting the opportunity to spring forth as a sprout, our time spent under wraps is crucial.

Who am I?

You were not meant to stay uniform. From the moment you were born, you have been required to grow and change, like it or not. And as a mother, you have a front row seat to the unfolding of growth among your children. Let’s be honest, you are given endless opportunities to grow right along with them. Why then, would we ever believe our time to evolve as individuals expires?

Adulthood, for me, has gone hand in hand with Motherhood. My identity has been wrapped up in my roles as mama. I have been acutely aware, truly honored, and equally terrified of this for a long time…because without my children, who am I?

Just Getting Started

I am curious, I am learning, and I am giving myself space to discover and rediscover the wonders of the world, and the secrets of my spirit that set my soul ablaze. I am beginning to understand that I can safely trust the process, and myself. There’s no expiration date to my evolution. I am just getting started.

As Lindsay and I believe, our greater “purpose” as a collective humankind is to learn, grow, and help one another. Living life is a series of experiments, trial and error, and explorations. Each person, including stay at home moms, has a seat at the table of the unknown. As Glennon Doyle reminds me every week, we cannot ask others’ directions to places they have never been. And so, we simply must go. You are just. getting. started.

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2 Comments

  1. Crystal

    Wow. I can relate. Thank you for writing this.

    Reply
  2. Deborah Evans

    I am speechless for the wisdom you have acquired in your young years and your ability to articulate it! There are so many layers of your purpose laying in “Plain Sight”. You girls need to find a way to share on a broader spectrum! Ted Talks…. Podcast? The Conflict: time balance with your greatest priorities.. your children!

    Reply

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