A close mom friend reached out to me recently confessing that she had been comparing herself to me in an unhealthy way. She has been following me for some time on social media and viewed my life through my posts more than in person. This beautiful, admirable, Proverbs 31 gal’s spirit had been discouraged because she thought I somehow had it all together with two kids while she struggled to survive with one. My heart sank. Once again, I recognized how dangerous the pit of social media easily and almost always distorts our self-image.
This is why I’m here writing this. I hope this could bring some truth and encouragement to any mom out there who wonder why their life isn’t as exciting or full of hobbies like mine. FYI, if you know me, i’m embarrassingly easily amused by everything. I will laugh at any sad joke and still laugh at how my daughter says “beach” or “frog” because…that’s not the point. The point is, my life isn’t as exciting as I make it seem to be. People tell me how I always look extremely happy. I’m probably not smiling because i’m actually happy. I’m probably smiling because i’m feeling awkward or trying to prevent myself from feeling awkward. That’s the truth.
This wasn’t the first time another mom voiced her insecure comparisons to me. I’ve been asked how I could have such energy and time to work out every day, keep the house clean, bake and decorate cookies, and always have my face and hair done.
The truth is, I don’t have the time or energy to do anything. Or at least, my time and energy is always strained.
Being a mom to even one child is certainly beyond any full-time obligation and priority. Being a mom requires you to put all your kids’ needs before yours. Being a mom precludes sleeping in or sleeping, period. Being a mom teaches you to hold in your hunger so your kids can eat first, and even let your kids eat your meal before you even get a bite. Being a mom certainly makes it difficult for you, to be you. But becoming a mom wasn’t the first time I was required to sacrifice myself.
This time, I’m home.
Anyone who’s been a leader in the Army and took it seriously can attest to the fact that all of the above have applied to them.
The Army was very good at keeping me away from home. Every time I lost sleep, I was away from home or had to leave home with a heavy heart. I was preoccupied with work 24/7, 7 days a week – literally. It didn’t matter who I was with, where I was, or how sick I was; If work needed me, I had better show up. The Army trained me to force control over my emotions and physical state to “keep” a job that I couldn’t even freely quit. Ironically, it also forced me to lose complete control over my emotions and physical state when I was home, where I could breathe. I was also required to workout every morning “before” work (basically at work) to maintain a certain level of physical fitness. I became addicted to various eating disorders while striving to excel the Army’s physical fitness standards. I became a professional at being a tough numb cookie at work yet bursting into tears and explosive rage for no appropriate reason at home.
There are certainly more challenging and strenuous jobs out there than the Army. What I’m attempting to articulate is that being a mom full-time has given me more freedom to choose what I do with my time and most importantly, stay home. Yes, I put my kids’ needs before my own. Yes, I wake up exhausted to attend to my kids’ needs. Yes, my kids consume my time, all the time. And yes, I lose my crap on a daily basis because I can’t speak fluent toddler with my “twonager.”
So how do I manage to get myself ready, go workout, make and decorate cookies, and work side jobs as a mom? Well, first of all i’m not back at work full-time. I lose at least an hour of sleep so I can get ready. I dread it so much. But I choose. I choose to put my face on and cover my head with hair spray rather than sleeping in because that’s what my feminine side prioritizes. In other words, I’m pretty ridiculous. But I’d rather feel good for the rest of the day after caffeine than feeling haggard all day. I workout 4-5 days a week for up to an hour. Before mom life, I worked out 6 days a week for 2 hours. Some days I can only make it for 20 mins because the kids just aren’t having it. But I still go, frustrated and annoyed at the fact that I only have 20 mins, but grateful that I can. Do I want to go to the gym everyday? Nah. But who do I have to blame but myself if I’m feeling unhappy about my body? I have to choose, and it’s always the less desirable one.
Cookies. I’ve always, always, failed at baking cookies. I could never ever, not burn them. After a few months of undergoing trauma therapy (due to childhood experiences), I became overwhelmed and fell into a deep depressive state – depressed to the point of having to set short milestones to hit to make sure I stay alive. So, I decided to plan my daughter’s birthday because “I have to be there.” And so came the cookies. I made over 20 hideous attempts at baking and decorating these luxurious cookies that seemed to be the hype today. Discouragement threw me back down. Afraid that this “escape” failed, I obsessively practiced, practiced, and practiced. I practiced as if my life depended on it, well, because it pretty much did.
I grew up with a survival mindset due to multiple traumatic events. PTSD had flared up once I left the Army due to my mind and body being in a safe and “comfortable” environment for the first time (out of comfort zone) and not knowing how to react to this wonderful and blessed life. Keeping myself busy and on-the-go helps me “thrive” and slows down the time before I rage out of childhood PTSD. Relaxing and slowing down drags my mind to every dangerous place it can.
So, I will literally bake and decorate cookies in between feeding my baby, attempting to discipline my toddler, cleaning up after my toddler and our two hairy and slobbery dogs. I call it my survival instinct rather than a relaxing hobby.
Staying busy may be my temporary escape that I don’t seem to struggle much with. What I struggle with the most, on the other hand, is my permanent escape. Escape to the Word of God. Escape to the spiritual truth. Escape to living out my divine purpose in this life which I was created for. Glorifying Jesus. I struggle without even knowing, and that – frustrates, discourages, and depresses me. I seem to be an all-star at making time for anything and everything with the drive to survive my worldly temptations and sufferings, yet I cannot seem to make time for whom my soul longs for. The only answer I have at the end of the day is that I’m selfish, and I’m lazy.
I do not have it all together. I do not even have myself together. To be honest, I admire at least two or three traits within every single mom I meet. “Why can’t I have a calmer voice? Why can’t I be more loving to my child? Why can’t I pull off those shoes? Why can’t I decorate like her? Why can’t I be more theologically sound? Why can’t I get into the Word like she does? Why can’t I be more active with volunteering? Why can’t I be a better servant?” You see, the list goes on in every direction possible. But I have to remind myself that God chose this life for me with the very people in it for a purpose so much greater than myself. It’s not about me. It’s not about what I can or can’t do. All I can do is try and obey God with His Word. That very task alone is more than enough for me to keep up.
So, admire the beauty and gifts that He has specifically blessed you with, and be encouraged. The future weight of Glory that He has for His children is infinitely larger than any little cookie, or body type, or Instagram picture. Let’s all think on the things to come.