The other night we ventured to an ice cream stand with the boys. I had a rough day, being assaulted left and right by doubt and quiet whispers of inadequacy as I tried to take care of my kids. They’re the worst days, are they not? Nothing went terribly wrong, and I wasn’t hoarse from yelling “No!” a million times. It was the little things, the little mistakes or stumbles that prompted this irritating sense of “who am I kidding?” to pump into my mind. So a sweet and fattening dairy treat seemed absolutely necessary.
But the trip hardly went as planned, as we got rained on, leaving my oldest screaming in terror because of the surprise downpour, my youngest crying because I shuffled him hastily out to the car, and melted ice cream on my hands. A stranger had to help my husband gather our middle child, and I wanted to just throw up my hands and call it quits. Because who am I kidding? We don’t have enough hands for all these boys.
This isn’t necessarily about parenting, though, or being a mom or having three kids. All difficult roles at times, and all popularly written about because us parents need encouragement from other parents. No, this is actually just about me, Janelle. A woman trying to just live life and not feel like I’m being sucked into a doubt-filled and fear-lined tunnel.
Becoming a parent changes you, and each subsequent child changes you. I miss the freedom of not having kids, but I wouldn’t trade these nuggets of crazy for anything. I’m still me, I still love redecorating and rearranging my house. I love buying clothes and finding unique pieces that fit into my wardrobe like a puzzle piece. I love reading gripping novels and theological narratives. I love buying anything on clearance mostly because I saved 95%, not necessarily because I need it. I love connecting with other women and discussing our dreams and hopes and callings. I’m still that person, but sometimes it’s hard to find her after a day of mommy-ing and loving and serving.
But, I’m taking heart. This is the perfect challenge to return some focus back to me and find her and find out how to make her shine. What does that look like? It means exercising. Which, I’m going to be honest, I’m really nervous about. I don’t exercise. I used to, and I used to love it. But that was literally three boys ago, over three years ago, and a different woman ago. It isn’t about being in shape so I can wear a bikini or weigh however much seems acceptable. It’s so I can run fast with my boys and eat a fattening dairy treat on occasion. It’s so I can feel healthy, not look like a model. I am not a model. I am a mom with three boys, and I want to be there with them right in the thick of it.
It also means reconnecting. To women, to Jesus, to my husband. I don’t have much time to give, but I do have time. And it is easy (way too easy!) to turn on the TV or grab my phone and tune out during nap time or after the boys go to bed. Those minutes are seriously precious gems, and I can’t believe that I willingly waste them on reading what everyone else is doing in their life via Facebook or Instagram. So I’m shutting it off so I can look in some eyes or read some precious verses or hear from my Creator. Having a baby has kind of made me a hermit, which is okay and definitely acceptable. But ladies, I miss you. I need my females. I am surrounded by boys, a glorious thing, but I cannot neglect my need for other women.
And it means being real & honest about being this new woman. I am not the same. And that rules. I’m not reinventing this Janelle or shedding who I was pre-baby. I want to adapt to this newness like we adapt to a baby. We change a few things and dive into it headfirst. I’m challenging myself, gently, to take heart and do things that seem hard. Because I can do hard things. Even if it doesn’t feel like it. And it’s hard to start exercising, to start conversations, to reconnect, to establish a new norm. But I want to, because this is me, Janelle, a mom of three boys (oh my), a wife, a woman. It’ll get tough, and I’ll have my days where I get rained on. But that’s the beauty of it, isn’t it?
Want to join me? You can do hard things too. So why not do them together? Connect with me and let’s do it!