This is my first post in participation with Elizabeth Floss’ online book discussion of The 10 Habits of Happy Mothers – Reclaiming Our Passion, Purpose, and Sanity by Meg Meeker, MD.
I bought this book a couple months ago and started reading it but frankly, I don’t think I was in the right state of mind because when Dr. Meeker gave examples of moms who were formerly in the corporate world or who were doing outside ministries along with raising their families, it turned me off. I didn’t have a lot of degrees. I wasn’t working outside the home. I didn’t miss public speaking. I didn’t think the book was for me since I am “just a mom” with little kids trying to make it through the day with the dishes washed, some laundry done and my sanity intact.
However, when I saw that Elizabeth Floss was gong to do an online book study of this book, I thought I’d give it another try. I’m so glad I did because now it is clicking and making sense to me. This book is just as beneficial to a mom “like me.” I have been reading along, but at a slower pace, and I’ve found myself rereading sections and thinking over the material so I can better apply them to my life. I have a number of thoughts and notes scribbled down so I’ll try to capture some of those thoughts and hopefully make coherent posts as I work my way through the book.
Dr. Meeker discusses our ability to see and name the many talents that our friends posses but our inability to see the talents that we posses. This hit home the other day when I was talking to my mom about my brother Rob’s recent stay in the hospital. His nurse was named Bobbi and my mom and my brother both laughed because she reminded them of me – that we had the same personality. Right away I started thinking of poor Nurse Bobbi and all the things that must be wrong with her. I asked my mom, “Well, what was she like?” I wanted to know how other people saw me. My mom described some positive traits and I thought, wow, is that really how I am?
It reminded me of an earlier post I made about when I read the blogs of moms that can cook, bake, sew, craft, garden and blog while raising ten kids, I felt woefully lacking since I wasn’t able to do even a quarter of what they did. I felt inferior to them! So it made sense when Dr. Meeker said:
“We are supercritical of ourselves because we heap unreasonable expectations on ourselves…No matter how well we do in one area, we always feel that we’re falling short in another. Second, we continually look to the wrong places to feel valuable. We look at how well we perform at various functions rather than accepting that we are valuable simply because we are our kids’ moms and we are loves and needed because of that.”
It brought to mind what a priest once told me. I was talking about my desire to make our home a pleasant place for my husband and children…a sort of haven from the world. Father told me that one of the noblest tasks a wife and mother has is to make her home “a piece of heaven on earth”. (He said a bit more but I’ll save that for another post.)
It has been years since he said that to me but it stuck with me. Sometimes it is in the back of my head and sometimes it is in front of my face in big, neon lights – as it is now. There are many things I want to improve in as a mother but for now, in my own way, I’ve made our home a little haven (A messy haven perhaps, but I’m working on it.) Brian has told me that when he gets off work he wants nothing more but to come home and be with me and our family. My children want nothing more than for me to hug and cuddle and play with them because right now I am their world.
So in the end, it doesn’t really matter whether I baked my own bread or picked up a loaf at the store. It doesn’t matter that I’m better at pinning a photo of a beautiful garden at Pinterest than growing one myself. What matters is that I love my kids and they love me. The smiles on their faces must mean that I am doing something right!
Realizing/Rediscovering Our Talents
“Tremendous amounts of energy leave us daily because we exhaust it in trying what not to be rather than embracing what we want to do.”
It’s funny that once I stopped comparing myself to my perceived super moms (after all, I am seeing a tiny, sanitized glimpse of their lives,) I started seeing that I possessed some of those same talents that I admired in them. It is as if my creative side woke up. I started posting on my blog again because I love having an outlet to write. I’ve tried new recipes and found cooking fun again. I’ve started organizing small sections of the house and realized I, too, could be organized (relatively speaking. 😉 Instead of complaining about the baby pounds (and then some) I still need to lose, I got a hair cut and bought a new top that flatters. I know these are just little things and it may seem insignificant to someone else but right now, with my busy life, they are positive things that I can handle…which brings me to another topic that hit home.
Open to the Holy Spirit
Dr. Meeker tells the story of a woman who started a ministry for teen girls. Although I am not in a position to do anything like that, she says, “Our calling comes through a series of providential occurrences.” I love that! It shows that it doesn’t matter what anyone else is doing, what matters is that I am doing my job to the best of my ability and right now I am taking care of kids 24/7. I’m not called to do a ministry outside the home right now because my ministry is here in my home.
However, when we turn our day and our lives over to the Holy Spirit each morning, He works through us in ways that fit into our state in life. The “providential occurrences” happen and we are given an opportunity to serve. For me, it could be making a meal for a new mom or being a listening ear to a friend struggling with a heavy cross. As time goes by and I am out of the demanding newborn/toddler/preschooler years, then I’ll be able to serve God in other ways that require more time and energy than I can give right now. I simply need to focus on my own tasks at hand and keep in mind that I am a daughter of God with immeasurable value. The joy and contentment that brings, even when things get chaotic, helps me to realize Habit #1.