Do you feel guilty about seeking joy outside of motherhood? I did for a long, long time. It was because I believed many of the things you believe:
Motherhood is the most important job I’ll ever have.
My children are my greatest gifts.
God’s word includes a promise to make me “a joyful mother of children.” (Psalm 113.9 KJV)
Problem is, motherhood is sometimes a drag. It’s a burden. It’s exhausting. It’s boring. If we’re honest, we’ll admit it: Motherhood isn’t only joy. Like marriage, friendship, and all other human relations, motherhood comes with heartaches and headaches.
When I was feeling these weights of motherhood, I was confused. Motherhood wasn’t measuring up to my expectations or my prayers. I then felt guilty and I searched my heart for sin. “It must be selfishness that keeps me from feeling joy,” I thought.
So I mothered harder and I mothered more. I home schooled, home birthed, and home spun my entire existence around my children, hoping to reach that sweet spot of total maternal joy. Of course, I never found that sweet spot and here’s why:
I pursued joy in motherhood to the exclusion of other kinds of joy.
I don’t want you to make that same mistake. As you get yourself off the shelf this month, it’s going to mean identifying other things that bring joy to your world.
Start by realizing your children do not need to be the center of your joy. Jesus should be, of course, and after that the many blessings of life, including your kids, but not exclusively your kids.
Also remind yourself that you already pursue maternal joy. You meet with God in order to give your kids your best self. You read to them, play games with them, and cheer them through drivers’ ed. You tickle them, sing with them, and pray for them too. You bring home a paycheck for them. Or you stay home all day with them.
You’re planning an awesome Christmas for them, aren’t you? The same way you plan their birthday parties, and save up for college, and help your daughter choose her wedding gown. Much of your maternal joy comes from these deliberate decisions and sacrifices.
In fact, you’re probably checking most of the boxes that make for joyful motherhood except the one marked Take care of you. Maybe you didn’t know that was a box to check, but it is. That’s what the self-care challenge is all about.
This week’s challenge, Part 1: Take a dream off the shelf and like an elf, get into some wholesome mischief!
- Go get your hair cut and colored.
- Spend half a day at the coffee shop with a book or your computer.
- Visit a museum and take yourself to dinner.
- Have a spontaneous night out with your girlfriends.
- Go buy a bra that fits.
Part 2: Give your family a list of gifts that reflect your true desires.
Go back to your self-care journal and read it over. What do you need in order to see some of your dreams fulfilled?
- A gift certificate to a book store, nail salon, or resort?
- Plane tickets, concert tickets, movie tickets?
- A bottle of perfume? A bottle of wine? A magazine subscription?
- A bike, a scale, a gym membership?
- Paint, yarn, hiking boots, power tools?
- A college course?
Hey, getting self off the shelf is truly a leap of faith, but Jesus came to bring joy to your world! If sin and sorrow have you down, it may be a direct result of your lack of self care. When your needs are neglected in the name of being a mom, you become tired and bitter. Pursuing joy elsewhere may be the joy you really need.
Behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people. Luke 2.10
Great joy to all people?
Yes, including moms.