Ever since I was a little girl, I dreamed of becoming a mother. I was beyond excited when my husband and I found out we were expecting our first child.
In all honesty, I had no idea what to expect, but then, I don’t think you can truly understand what it’s like to be a mom until you’re right in the middle of it. Looking back, I can now laugh at how I naively thought our daughter would be a joyful addition to our life; as though my life would stay the same, but I would now have the baby I’d always wanted.
It didn’t take long after our daughter was born for me to realize that my life would never be the same. Becoming a mother turned my world upside down, in the very best of ways.
As a new mother, I quickly found myself questioning so much of my life.
I knew I wanted to give my daughter the most incredible life I could imagine, and knowing I wanted to teach by example, this led me to question how I was living and why.
It quickly became apparent that I had been living on autopilot. At some point, life had become a sort of checklist. I had graduated from college, met my future husband around the same time I was hired as a teacher, got engaged and then married, bought our dog, bought our house, and had a baby. I was 24, now what?
I realized that while I had a beautiful life, so much of my life had been planned or chosen in order to please others. For the first time, I began to question who I was and what I wanted. Who did I want to become? How did I want to be remembered? What did I want my life to stand for?
Eight years and two children later, I still find myself on a quest to make the most of my wild and precious life.
Though unintentional, my children are my greatest teachers.
I have to be present and pay attention, keeping my eyes, ears, and heart open, but the lessons and reminders are there, patiently waiting for me to awaken.
Natalie, now 8, has been strong-willed for just about all of her life. Thankfully, the temper tantrums of her toddler years have faded into memory, as she’s blossoming into an independent young lady. She cares deeply for others, is constantly creating or experimenting with new projects, and appears to be a natural leader, as her siblings and friends seem to magically follow along with her many ideas. Through her curiosity and passion for life, she gently invites me to come along, explore, and stay open to the infinite possibilities throughout our lives.
Carter, about to turn 6, is my thoughtful one. Although he thrives when it comes to tasks such as puzzles, Legos, or any academic work, any new situation or change from what he is expecting, tends to make him anxious. Though sometimes challenging, he helps me grow as I try to see the world through his eyes and find that delicate balance between protecting him and letting go so he can fly. Both through his intelligence and his sensitive nature, Carter helps me to be more patient, to slow down and be fully present, and to stop worrying so very much about what others might think, so that I can be the mom he needs me to be.
Lily, now 4, is our little firecracker. Part princess, part tomboy, she loves to joke around, play, and laugh. Though I haven’t yet noticed some of the innate talents I’ve seen in her sister and brother, I know that Lily has a gift for bringing more joy and love wherever she goes. Through her affectionate nature and contagious enthusiasm, Lily helps me to remember that we all matter, we need one another, and life is better together.
One of the biggest surprises I’ve experienced as a mom, is realizing how different my children are and how much they have been who they are since birth. I believe that my children (that all of us and all of our children) are here for a reason. I believe that they are who they are, with their unique gifts, interests, and challenges, for a reason. As a mom, I’m deeply committed to helping each of my children grow into, and fully love, all of who they are.
What I’ve realized in this commitment, is that somewhere along the way in my own life journey, I forgot who I was. I stopped noticing my gifts and what makes me unique. At some point, I started to hide parts of who I am, in order to blend in. Though I want my children to love and honor all of who they are, I can admit that I am often my own worst critic and lacking in self-compassion.
This year, in place of resolutions, I decided to dedicate myself to re-discovering who I am, both as a mom and beyond this role.
This year, I am committing myself to practicing self-compassion on a daily basis, granting myself a bit of grace and understanding, as I learn to value and nurture all of who I am.
From my heart to yours, as one mom to another, I invite you to join me on this journey of compassionate discovery – exploring our gifts, passions, and purpose through self-care, creativity, and sacred practices – as we join together, embracing and thriving in this wild and precious life.
Becky McCleery is an inspired mother, writer, and teacher. She loves connecting with kindred spirits and helping change makers bring their beautiful dreams to life. She invites you to learn more and connect with her at www.InspiredIndie.com.