By Guest Writer and Hope Practitioner Lane Faulkner
I remember being a new mom; I was completely and utterly overwhelmed. In a few short years, my life seemed consumed by the duties of motherhood. You know this song; as moms we play it on repeat every single day. It’s endless mounds of laundry, which, if most of us are being honest, spend at least two cycles in the washer before we remember to transfer them to the dryer. It’s the couponing and grocery shopping, and it’s the sweet freedom to walk aimlessly through the grocery store without the kids in tow. It’s meal prep and dishes, and the countless counter wipes and floor sweeps to clean rogue Cheerios and sticky messes. It’s diaper changing and potty training, homework helping and Lego building. It’s time-out chairs and sticker charts, tantrums and Band-Aids, carpools and sports practices. It’s the huge sigh we let out after the last bed has been checked for monsters and the last book read, succumbing to the sheer exhaustion of one singular day’s duties.
Friend, this motherhood business is hard. The weight of responsibility to not just care for our kids, but to raise them to be kind, loving, and responsible little humans is almost too heavy to bear some days. It’s easy for us to get swept away in the minutia of parenting. And let’s face it – some days it feels like a job more than a joy.
In my earliest days of motherhood, I wanted everything to be perfect, including myself. I had expectations of what my house should look like, how I should cook, how I should parent, and the type of child I wanted to raise. Over the years, I eventually collapsed under all the hats I wore as a mother, a daughter, a wife, a sister, and a friend. Most days, it felt like I existed solely to meet the needs of everyone else, and my desire for control had become an all-consuming idol that permeated all of my relationships.
Our culture has placed an ideal of motherhood on a pedestal so high none of us can reach it. Our Pinterest boards brim with ideas for the perfect birthday party, the perfect nursery, or the perfect organic ways to feed our families. The bar seems so unattainable, and the energy to scale it can be exhausting.
It was only when I walked through my own journey of grief through my divorce that I saw clearly what I was missing all these years. I had mistaken my role as a mother for being my sole purpose in life. My own self no longer existed, and I was now defined by who I was to these tiny people. The idea itself is noble, but my epiphany smacked me square between the eyes: the plane was going down, and I wasn’t putting on my oxygen mask first.
The true disservice is neglecting our own true selves in favor of the roles in which we serve. By practicing Surrender, we acknowledge the truth of what we can and cannot control. We absolve ourselves of the falsehood of perfection and accept the grace that we, as parents, extend to our children. And through the Practice of Stillness, we are able to quiet ourselves, separating our souls from the harried chaos that parenting inherently creates. We can listen, breathe, and open that space within that speaks our own unique truths about who we are as individuals. We seize the opportunity to develop and preserve our identities. And through these Practices, we can turn back to our children better in tune to meet their needs because our own oxygen mask has been fastened securely into place. We are able to revel in the sweet, still moments with our children because we are fully present in them.
It is imperative that we intentionally carve out opportunities for both the Practices of Surrender and Stillness, whether it’s something as simple as taking a detour in the park a few minutes before the school pick-up line or a long, hot bath at the end of the day. A friend of mine asked me not too long ago, “If you had no obligations, no roles – if you weren’t a mom, or an employee, or a daughter – what would get you out of bed in the morning?” I honestly couldn’t answer him at the time, but it caused me to look hard at myself in the mirror each day to discover what that was – storytelling through writing. It is what nurtures my soul, brings purpose and meaning to my life, and connects me to others in this massive human tapestry. By identifying and connecting with your own unique internal space, you are Practicing Stillness and grounding your identity in your own truth. This Mother’s Day, allow yourself permission to revisit this home base to offer yourself the gift of Hope by finding time to nurture your own soul as much as you nurture those around you. Surrender the things you cannot control. Be present. Be Still. Be hopeful. This is Living Hope.