On Happiness in Motherhood
Thursday March 5, 2015see more by jen
The other day I was cleaning out the dresser next to my bed and found a folded letter written on lined paper. My husband and I must have been in an argument and I took pen to paper to get all my feelings out. I wrote it on 10-28-2008 and must not have ever given it to him (if you are reading this Stefan, you’re welcome.)
At the time I wrote this letter, I had a 2-year-old toddler and a high maintenance one at that (bless her).
Looking at the date, I must have been very hormonal because I didn’t know it yet, but I would find out I was pregnant with her baby sister 3 days later on Halloween. If I thought life was hard on THAT day, mama didn’t know what was in store with two children!
It brought back so many memories of that time in my life when I was exhausted, unbalanced and stretched to my limits between staying home with my toddler and trying to run this blog on my own. Those years for me were completely joyous and magical, but also SO FREAKING HARD. I was not very happy. Not like I am today.
Here is an excerpt of what I wrote to my husband:
“…I want to apologize for breaking down last night. I didn’t want to sound ungrateful, the truth is I am incredibly grateful. I was just SO TIRED.
Here’s the deal. For about 12 hours a day I am responsible for the care and happiness of Emma. I pour 200% of my love and energy into that little person. I love her so much I almost can’t comprehend the depths to which I love her. I give her pretty much all I have in me.
At the end of the day, I am really spent. Physically, emotionally, mentally. I wouldn’t change it for anything, but I am just SO TIRED.
At night when you come home, I wish you could show some more affection. I feel like I need someone to take care of me.”
Thinking back, I was looking to my husband to rescue me from the constant demands. I wanted him to pamper me, baby me, care for me. I wanted HIM to make me happy.
If only HE would really GET how hard it was to be a stay-at-home and also work-from-home mom, I would be happy.
If only HE would come home and do what I wanted him to do (which was send me upstairs with a glass of chardonnay and a bath while he put down little one and then came upstairs after to give me a foot massage and empathize with my hard day) I would be HAPPY. Ha!
But in real life, the poor guy was dealing with his OWN stress of supporting a family. Who was going to rescue HIM? Was I making HIM happy? I can assure you, I was not.
How to Be a Happier Mom
Since those early days I have become a happier mom and happier person in so many ways, but not without a lot of work and making changes in my life to make me happier.
I really wanted to share what I have learned with you today, because these lessons were learned the hard way, which, in motherhood is often the way it goes when navigating unchartered territory.
No One is Going to Hand You Your Happiness. You Have to Take It.
This profound statement came from my wise friend Lisa one night and I have reveled in just how TRUE it is ever since.
We are the ones responsible for our happiness. It’s a choice. If I want to be happy I have one person responsible for the majority of my happiness – me.
We have the power to make changes in our lives to make them better.
No one is going to hand you your happiness, you have to take it.
Visualize What Being a Happy Mom Looks Like to You.
The term “being happy” is so vague. If you don’t know what would make you happier, it’s impossible to make the changes to get there. So the first thing you have to do is figure out what being happy looks like to YOU.
Finish this sentence, “I am happiest when…..”
The vision is different for everyone. Would you be happier if you spent more time with your friends? More time doing something you love? Some time to yourself alone to de-stress?
Know what being happy looks like for you.
Then Do Something About It.
It’s great to DREAM about being happier, but if want to BECOME happier, you have to take action to get there.
It’s like losing weight. You can really want to lose 10 pounds, but until you take the steps to make it happen, it’s just a dream. You have to put your thoughts into action.
As moms it is SO easy to get caught up in an unhappy rut due to the hamster wheel of every day life. If you barely have time to take a shower, when on earth are you going to plan for your happiness? Right?
But aren’t we good at analyzing the things that make us unhappy? And that is such a crappy place to be.
It’s such a better use of time to invest the same energy into analyzing the things that MAKE you happy.
Have your husband take the kids on a weekend and go and sit in a coffee shop by yourself (that alone will make you happier) and put pen to paper and think about the things in your life that make you happy. Or, the things in your life you are MISSING that would make you happier.
Then start to take action and make plans to include those things.
From those series of breakdowns early on, I realized I needed help. Running a blog and being home full time with my toddler wasn’t humanly possible so I hired a college babysitter to come in for a few hours a week to help. Did that make me happier? ABSOLUTELY. We weren’t meant to do this job alone.
Find Your People.
Motherhood early on can be really isolating. There is so much happiness to be found in friendships with people you can relate to. Friends you can be honest and vulnerable with. Friends that don’t judge you.
Take time to think about how you feel after being with someone. Do you feel happier? Uplifted? Energized? Understood? Better about yourself? Those are your people.
Make plans to see them regularly!
Find Something That is Yours, Alone.
I truly believe as humans we are meant to be continually growing, changing and learning. It is so important to find something that is yours, something you can call a passion that you enjoy. Something that doesn’t involve your children. Something that is yours alone.
Running, crafting, cooking, baking, reading, photography, volunteering, designing, decorating, yoga-ing, writing, traveling, connecting, socializing, movie-watching, foodie-ing…find your passions and include those in your life.
“In motherhood, I have discovered and continue to discover who I truly am.”
Becoming a mother has been the biggest gift of my lifetime. In motherhood, I have discovered and continue to discover who I truly am.
If I wasn’t pushed to the brink of insanity trying to figure that out, I wouldn’t have had the insights that pushed me back, one baby step at a time, to a happier, fuller life.
Do you have any thoughts on how to be a happier mom? What are the things that make you happier? Would love to hear your comments below!