For the last 15 years I’ve been a full-time stay at home mom with a minimum of 2-3 kids at any given time crawling all over me all day long, (anyone out there relate?) My days were spent juggling naps with feedings with pickups and activities to keep said kids happy and distracted. I don’t ever remember there being a time in my day when I sat and thought a lot about who I was, what I wanted to do and what things made me happy….I really didn’t have a lot of time to think outside of anything that didn’t relate to my children, the house, cooking and grocery shopping. I didn’t realize I was slipping away, I mean I never contemplated the fact that I was losing myself because I was too distracted by these tiny humans that depended on me for everything. When one got old enough to go into school, I’d pop another one out and the vicious cycle continued….that is until this last year.
This last year my baby started Kindergarten and it rocked my identity to the core! My full, busy days distracted with this last little peanut that relied so heavily on me for everything, (she’s a mama’s girl to the tee). She was my mini me for the last 6 years, never put her in preschool even cause she didn’t want to leave my side. I honestly didn’t realize how much my days were filled and busy with her. I mean, I knew she was by my side every second but I kinda thought I was taking care of my things while she was around….nope! Sure I was getting the cleaning, cooking and grocery shopping done but something about having that nugget with me that served as a giant distraction to the blank slate of my true identity and who April really was.
The first few weeks I felt like a drug addict going through withdraws. Had to keep moving, keep distracted, don’t sit too long, never be alone! And then when I was alone I’d be crying uncontrollably feeling like a giant chunk of myself had been ripped away from me..well it had I guess! I don’t like facing myself, I like being busy with other things to keep me from looking at the gaping hole of myself that was filled with labels like, “Mom” and “Wife”. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think anything is wrong with identifying as mom and wife and for the most part those of us that have chosen this life would say that this was our identity and we’d be proud of it! But there was something empty and wrong with how I felt – it was as if I didn’t know who I was without them anymore and I wasn’t even sure if I liked who I was. I found myself obsessing and pouring my time and energy into my physical self and not in a healthy way. I was exercising like a crazy person, putting myself on strict diets and analyzing the new wrinkles that just popped up on my face all the sudden, “how did I not notice these before??” My new-found identity and days were spent totally on my looks and trying desperately to reach some unrealistic goal.
When I was young, prepubescent and even earlier I was given labels like, “California’s #1 Brat” and my basic little personality and character was being ridiculed relentlessly. If I wasn’t being told how annoying I was then I was simply just left out and ignored. I’m not talking about kids my age either, there were adults in my family that constantly reminded me how obnoxious I was. I always felt like I didn’t quite add up to the other girls that were my age physically. I was a bit awkward looking and a little more plump then the other girls…oh and my mom permed my hair so that helped everything. All this compounded with being raised a Jehovah’s Witness where you are really excluded and isolated from a lot of stuff, I found myself struggling with acceptance and confidence. My father was absent and I never was given the affirmations that every little girl needs to hear from their daddy, “you’re beautiful and you’re enough!”
At about 15 I started coming into my looks more and I was receiving comments like, “wow April you’re really turning into a beautiful young woman” and I started getting attention that I had never gotten before, not just from boys but also from girls. The braces came off, I stopped letting my mom perm me and I leaned out a bit…I was noticed! I didn’t realize it at the time but it was at this point in my life where I think I subconsciously placed my identity and self-worth in how I looked. I mean, finally I was cool, noticed, accepted and desired and prior to me becoming pretty my basic personality and self were not good enough so why wouldn’t I have?
At 23 I met my now husband, Michael and at 24 I had my first child. From 24 until now I have been caught up in the distractions of motherhood and all that being a full-time mama entails. It doesn’t surprise me that after my youngest went to school I dove right back into how I identified with myself prior to being a mom and wife. After all, my worth and value were that before so why wouldn’t be that still. Well, here’s the problem…well there’s lots of problems – I’m a wreck so let’s just state that but here’s one of the problems with that thinking….I’m getting old! I don’t look like I did at 19 or even 24 and there is no way I can sustain that as much as society has created many ways for us to try. But even if I could – do I want my identity to be based around my physical self? I mean it’s pretty superficial and yes it feels good to be noticed, to be told you’re pretty but when I die and I’m pretty sure I will, do I want to be remembered as a “pretty face”. I don’t think so, there’s got to be more!
I don’t have it all figured out and I definitely have NOT arrived yet guys. I’m not sure if there are any women out there that resonate with me at all and can relate to my struggle with identity. It’s a daily battle but it’s a battle I’m choosing to fight for and choosing to believe what the bible tells me about my identity. There are days that are harder than others and I find myself back into old habits or old mindsets but then I get this soft, loving nudge that whispers truth into my ear. Here are few scriptures that remind me of who I really am and I hope they encourage you the way they encourage me!
John 1:12 – “Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God” (I’m God’s kid)
Romans 3:24 – “But they are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus” (I’m justified and redeemed)
Romans 6:6 – “We know that our old man was crucified with him so that the body of sin would no longer dominate us, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin” (My old self was crucified)
Galatians 5:1 – “For freedom Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not be subject again to the yoke of slavery” (I am FREE)
Ephesians 1:4 – “For he chose us in Christ before the foundation of the world that we may be holy and unblemished in his sight in love”(I am chosen, holy and blameless)
This is just a taste, a few scriptures that remind me of who my true self is, for a more thorough list go to this awesome website,
Love you all and am always praying for each of you!