Hello Friends –
My girls and I spent yesterday watching three “littles” for our friends—ages 6, almost 3, and 18 months.
We love these kiddos and had so much fun, but I have to admit being completely worn out. While I was rocking the youngest one down for his nap, I wondered how in the world my husband John and I survived the crazy years–especially back when we had three in diapers. Oy vey!
There’s one piece of advice – in fact, the best parenting advice I ever received – that carried me through my toughest mama moments.
First, some personal history—
During my mothering journey, there is a season I completely lost my joy.
When my “baby” Sarah was born in 2004, I left the full-time ministry job that I loved to be a full-time mom.
I knew this was what God’s calling for me, and looked forward to the opportunity to be “all in” with my kids.
But, once I was home full-time, I felt completely overwhelmed and inadequate. My kids were ages 6 months, 1, 2 and 10.
It was utterly and completely exhausting.
Most of my friends stopped calling. (Not as much fun to “do lunch” when Cindy has 4 kids with her). I was scared to go anywhere by myself being outnumbered.
I was beyond lonely.
I watched one friend go blueberry picking with her family, and then spend the day making fresh pies. Her son refused to eat my mac and cheese because it wasn’t homemade. I felt like such a loser mom.
Another friend was out of the house each day by 8:00 AM. She would go to the park and the beach and always had fresh, healthy snacks for her kids. My kids were addicted to apple juice and ate sugary fruit snacks.
I thought maybe I should go back to work ~ maybe I wasn’t cut out to be a stay at home mom. I worried I was ruining my kids.
I felt defeated and isolated.
My counselor at the time said, “Cindy, it sounds like you’re going through a desert experience.” Really? You think? I just paid you $100 to tell me that?!
I completely lost my joy.
And then a dear friend shared with me advice that had been passed on to her.
She said, “Cindy, you need to parent within your personality.”
I didn’t even know who I was anymore. I was just in survival mode ~ trying to make it through the day without crying and whining (the kids, not me) and have a half-way healthy meal on the table for supper. A shower for me made the day a celebration.
Parent within my personality? Who was I? What brought me joy? I didn’t even know anymore.
So I started to make a list. For me, I love people and parties and celebrations. I love loud fun music, and adventures, and doing things in “themes.” I enjoy friends and serving others and most importantly, I am passionate about teaching and sharing the Good News of Jesus Christ and His great love for us all.
Soon I started to incorporate those things into my days. We had “Terrific Tuesdays” and “Wacky Wednesdays” and “Super Saturdays.”
We would invite friends over for a pink princess party, or have a luau in our driveway, or have scavenger hunts throughout our house to find mini pots of gold. We sang fun, loud Bible songs and went for prayer walks and put flowers on our loved ones doorsteps (and then rang the door bell and ran away)! We had a ball!
My JOY was back! 🙂
Now please know, just like I’m not cut out to bake all day or can fresh vegetables, you may think I sound like a weirdo because I love colorful, plastic table cloths. Or that I love to have indoor picnics complete with plastic ants. That’s ok.
The key is to find out who God created YOU to be ~ and then be THAT person!
Live a full life being the woman God created YOU to be.
Discover what brings YOU joy and then parent within YOUR unique, God-given personality.
Your family (and the Kingdom) desperately needs you to be YOU!!!
What brings you JOY? What are the things you love to do?
What family activities are most fun for you?
Or if you could plan a day full of JOY ~ what would that day look like? I’d love to hear your thoughts and ideas.
Thanks for stopping by *She Sparkles*! May your week be filled with an abundance of JOY!