Let it Rise

This is a piece I wrote last Summer – on why I started to write again…and reminds me to pay attention to the signs…they’re all around.  Hope you enjoy!

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Last year I found myself facing unexpected anxiety following the birth of my second child.  I’m not sure if I had just presumed we would all adjust seamlessly in this new transition?  Or maybe I figured since I already had this parenting thing down, another kid was no big deal.  How much work could one more child be, really?  A lot.  I honestly had no idea how hard it would be.

As a stay at home mom, I had found satisfaction in spending my days solely with my daughter up until this point.  Once the new baby arrived, my then 2-year-old’s behavior did a complete 180.  Tantrums and testing became the norm, while my sleep-deprived self went into survival mode.

It didn’t get much easier over the next few months as I had hoped, and I started feeling a bit disenchanted with the whole staying at home bit.  It felt like my entire identity was wrapped up in changing diapers, nursing, preparing toddler meals, and cleaning up constant messes. There was nothing more to my days, and my energy was zapped.

Before I had children, I religiously practiced self-care by listening to my body and exercising, getting regular massages, creating healthy meals I could savor, or having a bubble bath with a glass of wine on a Saturday night instead of going out.  I consider all of these ways to honor myself and slow down if that’s what I feel my body calling me to do.  Even when I became pregnant with my first child, I still did a pretty good job of it all – prenatal massages, yoga, walks on the beach, meditation days, you name it.  It suddenly became clear what had gone awry – I had been neglecting to care for myself with life so busy caring for two little ones.  No wonder I felt so burnt out.

I started to miss my job as a News Researcher for a television show where I also wrote weekly pieces for an affiliate.  As I pondered a possible return to work, my sister sent me an article on mothers who pursued their passions and dreams despite the many challenges they faced.  Their stories were inspiring and I started thinking about what I could do on the side and continue to stay at home.  I wasn’t sure I was ready to fully re-enter the workforce, but there had to be a way to feel more fulfilled on a day-to-day basis.

Starting a blog was something I had always entertained as a way to keep up my writing.  And in this season of life, I wondered if it could be a way to connect with other mothers who felt similarly challenged in raising their children.  There are so many social media posts and blogs that make parenting look all too easy or perfect and that makes me feel even more alone.  I envisioned a place that would build bridges instead of walls so that we can get through this joyful yet grueling journey together.  Also, I wanted to pass along what I had learned about self-care so that other mothers could thrive, instead of just survive each day.

But at the same time, I was in the thick of it with a young toddler and an infant. No way could I envision adding one more thing to my plate. I couldn’t even get photo albums done or closets organized or even dinner made some days.  When would I possibly find the time to blog?

Then, out of the blue, I started noticing hot air balloons.  It sounds crazy, but they were everywhere I looked.  First, on a show my daughter was watching.  Then, in the book she chose before nap time.  A couple of hours later we saw one as we were driving.  A friend sent me a picture of a hot air balloon taking off just a few feet from her in another state.  It didn’t stop – for weeks and even months, I saw hot air balloons all the time.

Perhaps I hadn’t noticed them before and they were always there.  Or maybe this was a sign just for me?  I wasn’t sure of the message exactly, but I considered the obvious – a hot air balloon is meant to fly.  It’s not supposed to stay tethered to the ground, and it needs a fire lit under it to take flight.  It also felt like a beautiful symbol of hope in a discouraging time.

And then it hit me – it was not the challenge of finding time, but rather my fear that was holding me back from launching my blog.  What would people think of what I wrote?  What if they criticized my views?  What if other mothers perceived self-care as a selfish message? There were so many doubts I had in myself in doing something so far out of my comfort zone.  I could continue to sit and not write and be content, but clearly I wasn’t.

Deep down, I knew something had to change.  My days, particularly Mondays, were continually filled with dread at the thought of doing it all again without any help or adult interaction.  I knew I had to do this blog for myself, and make my own needs a priority again.  And so, with the encouragement of my husband and several close friends, my blog ‘took flight’ and that creative part of my brain began to flourish again.

Since launching my website, I’ve received many notes from women thanking me for writing the hard stuff because they had been feeling similarly in their motherhood journeys.  They, too, had been wondering if they will ever wear their cute clothes again or talk about something other than their kids on lunch dates with girlfriends.  It turns out I wasn’t the only one feeling worn down in this season of life.

My anxiety has all but diminished and I’ve felt more fulfilled in my role of staying at home.  Having a voice again has been vital to taking care of myself and my own needs.  I’ve also been practicing my old self-care rituals which now include booking a sitter for my little ones if I need a break.  Valuing myself and being the best mom I can be are two of the greatest gifts I can give my children.  After all, I am the only person who can give my kids a happy mother.

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