The start of 2015 began with the most life-changing news – a new child was on his way. Santa brought the most beautiful gift – our healthy, amazing boy Easton, and a new sibling for Brody, Tyler and Allegra. But, truth be told, the unplanned blessing of a 4th child made me terrified. We were already physically, mentally and financially full with three fabulous children. The reality of another child also set off a ripple of major life changes (2 moves, renovations, new neighbourhood) and a shit storm of stress in what would become a year of amazing blessings, but inevitable burn out. In the midst of what I’ll sum up as my most challenging year of parenting ever, perhaps exceptionally difficult due to the chronic sleep deprivation from a slumber and schedule averse, and intense baby, I was drained, depleted and lifeless. Being too exhausted to do much outside the house left me isolated and lacking connection. I believe what you focus on grows, and I did not want to continue functioning in a state of overwhelm. I wasn’t my best self, and it was affecting all my other roles – Wife, Mother, friend, extended family member. I am usually an optimistic, joy-centered person. I was struggling to find her, and so I began soul searching on what I needed to do to get my joy back. It didn’t help that I searched aimlessly for how large families make it work. Seeing that level of perfection and how they seemed to have it all figured out just added to my feelings of inadequacy.
In those dark days are where I began to see my light – where little intuitive nudges and signs from the universe made me reflect and focus on how I’d abandoned the things that feed my soul and, consequently, led to my burn out. I stopped learning, and after 8 years of hands on parenting, realized I’d not done much to continue to grow my skill set. I was immensely grateful for the gift of motherhood, but completely lacking in the intellectual stimulation I need personally to thrive.
I believe mothering is the greatest spiritual journey one will ever embark on. Raising good humans in THE most important work we will do. Except mothering does not equate to losing oneself. We are women with varied interests and passions that bring a greater sense of self. We are still interested in things outside of parenting, we are still interesting and have gifts to offer the world. The monotony and mindlessness of domestic duties that come with family management will never go away. But carving out time for things that light our souls on fire is so very important.
Then I began to write again. I wrote a children’s book and submitted it to publishers and even got an article published on a major parenting platform. No, this isn’t a huge thing to some, but to me it made me feel accomplished. Seeing my words published sparked a joy I hadn’t felt in a very long time.
Some wonder how I find time to write while being a Mom to four children. Well, I’ve learned to make the time, to set boundaries, to ask for time to myself. It means doing less of the “supposed to” stuff, outsourcing the things that make me miserable (hello glorious cleaning lady), and using some of my “free time” for things that bring me to life. It means laundry, decluttering, and other things I dread, get done secondary to the stuff that brings meaning, including more focused time with my husband and kids. And somehow, all that messy stuff gets done too. It now just takes a back seat to the good stuff.
I am a Mother and take that responsibility and honour very seriously, but it’s not all of who I am. Tending to myself and pursuing my passion for writing and creativity breathes life back into me, centers me, and provides a sense of satisfaction, allowing me to give back to my family in kind. Running on empty from neglecting my personal aspirations made us all suffer. I was miserable and empty and pouring from a bone dry cup. My husband and my children deserve a content wife and mother, not a zoned out robot functioning off toxic fumes.
Dipping into a Mothering low and burn out was shameful and awful feeling. However, I now see, it was in fact the biggest gift – it propelled me to find my strengths and embrace a courage I’ve never had. A family cannot function well when the commander is down (And I wasn’t just down…I felt shattered). It didn’t help being aware that what I had was what some people pray for – a beautiful, healthy, large family, and a comfortable, modest lifestyle. Except swallowing down what your soul craves only brings greater despair, I found, and I had to stop beating myself up that wanting more for myself didn’t not mutually exclude my deep gratitude and love for my family and blessings.
I don’t “want it all”, and I definitely don’t want to be a “do it all” Mama. Self-fulfilment has made me re-fall in love with everything I already have. Everything right here and now is enough. But continuing to learn, grow and accomplish is what makes me tick, and what will sustain my sense of gratitude.
Starting a blog keeps me accountable to my interests in writing, and has allowed me to reclaim my creativity, while keeping my family at the heart of it. In the last 2 months I’ve learned graphic design, enrolled and completed a photography course, designed a website and learned the WordPress platform. Tending to my personal interests does not mutually exclude my value of being a good Mama and partner to my husband. All are important pieces to the “well-being” puzzle. Staying inspired and feeding my aspirations allows me to feel personally fulfilled, which in turn allows me to give back to my family from a more loving place.
Blogging has changed significantly from when I gave it a go 6 years ago. I’ve never been more outside of my comfort zone than now. Putting writing out, being the “face” of the blog and showcasing pieces across social media is terrifying, especially with the content being something as sacred as my family. But I know growth doesn’t come from comfort zones, and so far, I’m loving the experience. Connecting with other beautiful, inspiring and brilliant women and families in the blogosphere has enabled a connection I was desperately trying to find this year. So while I continue on this path of digital bravery, I thank you for stopping by. I hope you will find our content useful, inspiring and honest. We don’t have this large family living gig all figured out, but I hope you will enjoy following as our story unfolds.