I’ve been pulling myself through the year – making changes here and there, reading books, watching documentaries, writing. I’ve practiced eating better and working out. Everything I’ve done as led to this moment, the moment that I’ve been seeking all this time.
I know how that sounds, and I don’t blame you for thinking it, but I’ve really been struggling to feel this emotion over the year. I’ve had more down days than I think I’ve ever had, days where I just felt unmotivated and blah. It was as though I was without purpose at times. I couldn’t get the feeling to go away. I don’t know why, but no matter what I did, I couldn’t figure out what the problem was.
It’s like I’ve spent the entire year searching for the missing piece of a 1000 piece puzzle.
You already know I’m a mom of three, but what you probably don’t know is that my husband and I don’t live together and haven’t for the last two years.
And no, we aren’t separated or getting a divorce.
Because of the line of work he does, he currently works in a different state. His work projects last several months to several years and, because of the uncertainty of duration, we opted not to follow him during these last two projects spanning the course of nearly two years now.
It sounds horrible not to follow my husband, but you would have done the same if you were me, I assure you. I was six months pregnant when he needed to relocate for work and with my pregnancy being sort of risky, I wasn’t comfortable with packing up and moving in the middle of that. By the time the baby was born and I could move, he was only going to be working at his job for a few more months before moving on to the next project, so I moved the kids and I back to our home town instead.
Life without my husband
Everyone in my life who knows this about our situation tells me that they couldn’t do it. Trust me, I do it and I don’t know how I’m doing it! I’m practically a single mother raising three kids. And I miss my husband every day, but I don’t dwell on it and beat myself up about it. I keep going. I have no choice.
I used to think about how much I hated it (back when I was still breastfeeding my youngest), but at some point I realized how damaging those thoughts were to my spirit – so I stopped.
However, it’s very hard to just push him aside like that and carry on my life as if everything is normal because, obviously, our situation is anything but normal. Not long ago, I remember him asking me if I was happy, and it made me cry to hear someone ask me that question. We were talking on the phone when he asked and I responded with an “of course not because you’re not here.” I burst into tears.
At that point, I realized what part of my emotional struggle was – that I was not allowing myself to feel happy simply because we weren’t together every day. At the time, I just took it at face value and accepted it as is, just like our situation – that there was nothing I could do about it.
And then I started reading the book “The Effortless Everyday” by Katie Lee.
I first read a sample of this book and then immediately connected with the author, Katie, because of the similarities in our life stories. I had no idea that her words would help me find that missing puzzle piece I’d been searching for.
From talking with so many women, I’ve found that most of the feelings we have about our life surround having it all, the pursuit of having it all, not having it all or any form of those three…Yes, I think you can have it all, and all at once. But first you need to examine what “all” even means.” – Katie Lee
Those words today sounded as though they were spoken from atop the highest mountain. Right there, in those few words, Katie hit the head on the nail and ripped my eyes wide open.
The missing piece
This entire year, I’ve been pursuing “having it all” without realizing it. Since moving back home…
- I’ve been overwhelmed with the home maintenance. After all, I’m the only adult here, right?
- I’ve been overwhelmed with the total amount of bills we want to have paid off by next summer.
- I’ve been overwhelmed with a growing to-do list and feeling like each day that list grew instead of shrank – even though I did stuff!
- I’ve constantly moved on to the next thing to tackle instead of allowing myself to enjoy the moments of victory when something gets done.
I’ve been my own worst critic.
I forgot that I actually “have it all” already!
- I have a nice house
- A nice car
- Beautiful (and smart) kids
- The best husband ever!
- My health is great
- I have food on the table
- A roof over my head, and
- I pay all my bills on time!
What was I thinking?!
While it’s slightly aggravating that I’m paying for student loans and I’m not working in my field of interest, at the end of the day, I chose to stay home and raise my kids versus go to work. I chose them. And I think I forgot that I made that choice.
I’ve never regretted it.
I think that sometimes I get so hung up on the fact that I am plenty capable of doing much more than just taking care of them that I forget that this is only temporary and there will be plenty of time once they are grown up for me to enter back into the work force – if that’s what I want at that time. In the meantime, I need to practice reminding myself that I’ve chosen to be a mom first and with their father working away from home, I need to be here for them as best I can. Besides, I’m a part-time blogger, so all is not really lost, right?
Tips for Reminding Yourself How Good You Have It
Now that I’ve reached the point where I feel like I’ve accepted my situation and can be happy about it again, I want to make sure that I don’t forget again. If you feel you need to be reminded that you already “have it all” then I encourage you to follow these tips, too. (Clearly, I’m no expert, but I’ve noticed that several of the changes I’ve made in recent months have helped out a lot. If you want expert advice, I recommend reading 10 Scientifically Proven Ways to Stay Happy All The Time.)
- Create positive mantras. Lately, I keep saying to myself, “The value of my worth isn’t based on my productivity.” It simply reminds me that just because I lounged around in my pjs all day and felt like I didn’t do anything, doesn’t mean anything. I cannot judge how good my day was based on how much stuff was checked off my to-do list.
- Don’t focus on what you don’t have…financially speaking. I’m very guilty of not following my own advice here, which is why it’s something I need to practice. From now on, if I find myself dwelling on the finances or beating myself up because I didn’t save as much money as I wanted to, I need to remind myself that my financial position is currently in the best shape it’s ever been. I’ve already set into motion a plan of action and it’s going to take some time for that to unfold. Clearly, I’ve been inpatient and I need to remind myself that paying stuff off, especially as much debt as we still owe, is going to take time. Plus, for the things that we want to buy (one day), I need to remember that the stuff isn’t going to make me any happier. The stuff would just be nice to have.
- Go to church more often. I’ve slacked since the summer months when my church nursery closed for the season. I’ve made excuses not to attend because it would be 1 vs 3 (the kids) in the pews and I didn’t want to be that mom with screaming children. I also didn’t want to have to keep asking my mom to watch the little one, especially since she’s not exactly a morning person and my church only has one mass time on Sundays. But, recently, I’ve recommitted to attending, and I’m even planning to attend one service during the week (while the kids are in school and daycare). I think the people interaction will help me not feel so isolated from the world (since I’m home most times). Plus, the weekly worship will remind me that God loves me no matter what I do. I think that reminder is probably the best one I’ll need.
- Tape reminders to your bathroom mirror. Since that statement in Katie’s book had such an impact on me, I taped the phrase “You already have it all” on the mirror in my bathroom. Waking up and seeing that first thing and seeing it again before bed helps start and end my days on a positive note. Isn’t that what it’s all about?
How do you plan to remind yourself that you already “have it all”?