Purpose//

I Finally Realized That I’m Not Just a Mom. I’m a Person.

The wake-up call that made me realize that being there for my family starts with making time for myself

Troyan/ Shutterstock
Troyan/ Shutterstock

Seven children is a lot of kids, to some people.

It’s still a lot to me, even though that’s how many children I have.

The energy required to feed, clothe, clean, and care for so many people is enough to power a small city. So it’s no wonder I found myself feeling burned out. My life felt like: go, go, go, busy, busy, busy.

I would crash into bed exhausted, although sometimes I was unable to sleep, because I couldn’t turn off my brain.

I would wake up with one or more children during the night who felt sick or scared or sleepless.

I would crawl out of bed in the morning because some little person needed me to feed them, or wipe their behind, or stop a squabble.

Is it a surprise that I was unhappy?

One afternoon, after days and weeks of fulfilling endless requests and demands, in a torrent of tears, I finally asked myself, “Who am I? What do I want?”

It seems like such a basic question. But in the cloud of mom brain, such thoughts rarely get stage time.

Asking it that day really hit me hard, and I took some serious time to think about it.

I’m not just a mom,” I realized. “I’m a person, a woman who has passions, interests, and pursuits that I’ve failed to pursue.

Those simple questions became a turning point in my happiness. I realized that ignoring who I am as a person was not helping me or my family to be happy.

Just like I was already doing with my children, I decided to listen to, and fulfill, the things I wanted to do. “Writing? Treadmill? Lunch date? Mom-cation? Of course you can do that!” I told myself.

I began carving out time in my day, week, and month for just me. This was time where I got to do whatever I wanted — time that I used to pursue my passions and interests.

As needed, I asked for help — from my husband, my older children, my friends or neighbors. If needed, I used technology — usually movies. That personal time became more important than my “bad mom” rules about technology use.

Day by day and week by week, I developed a stronger sense of personal identity. I started to tell my children things like, “Mommy is a person too, and she’s going to sit down to eat. Get your own spoon.”

I began developing systems for chores, study time (I homeschool), and “training classes” (Think: “Children, this is how you properly clean a toilet”).

Can you believe it? My children became more responsible and helpful, and less dependent!

And most importantly, I became a happier person, which made me a better mother, wife, and human.

More from Rachel: To Exhausted Moms — My Childbearing Years Passed By Like They Were a Dream

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People look for retreats for themselves, in the country, by the coast, or in the hills . . . There is nowhere that a person can find a more peaceful and trouble-free retreat than in his own mind. . . . So constantly give yourself this retreat, and renew yourself.

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