I walked through the halls of the local high school just as the bell rang. All of the sudden, a wave of students flooded towards me, the only one going the wrong direction. But since it’s been awhile since I walked the halls of any high school, it was like a breath of fresh air. Those students, full of emotion, pain, hope, expectantly going about their day.
Then, I turned the corner into a room with four beautiful girls ready to have lunch with me and along with some other friends of mine. And even though I was much older than they, there was a common thread between us. It wasn’t our age or even our race, but the fact that we were all moms. I became a mom at 29 and they did as a teenager. I just wanted to squeeze each one of them. I have trouble surviving the day without having to remember my homework.
We shared stories about raising babies, and it was a thrill to watch them laugh as stories were told of being peed on or potty training or trying to get them to sleep through the night. The point me of being with them that day was to share with them three ways I’ve survived motherhood.
1. Feed your soul.
Now more than ever, you need to find ways to rest, relax, and restore your soul. We all recharge differently, but for me surviving well means that each day I need to either read something like a magazine, blog, or book. I need to be inspired visually so Instagram or Pinterest can do that for me. I also recharge through music. Music has the ability to transport my mind and my mood. I can hear a certain song and remember exactly where I was when I heard it 25 years ago. When I cook dinner, it is a must to have a John Mayer playlist going in the background. If I need to boost my mood, a little pop needs to be playing. And if I need to feel at peace, worship music plays in the background. Sometimes for me, simply getting outside with music in my ears and walking does the trick. There are so many ways to feed your soul — journaling, exercising, cooking, reading, listening to podcasts, watching something. Find whatever it is and incorporate it into your daily life.
2. Be intentional about building a tribe.
Let’s all say it together: I can’t do this alone. We were never created to do life alone much less raise human beings alone. Mothering is hard. For many of us with little kids, it’s a miracle that you made it out the door today. And if you were dressed in something other than workout clothes, then high fives all around. We need people to come alongside us to encourage us, to run with us, and to hold our hand when we are ready to quit. My tribe refers to each other as “mom on deck.” Sometimes we need to know there is a mom on deck who can pick your kid up from school or bring you food in the hospital or tuck your kid in when something unexpected comes up. It takes effort and intention to allow other women to come alongside you. If you don’t have someone, be the one who makes the effort. We all want to be pursued but sometimes you need to be the one who extends an offer.
3. Don’t forget to be you.
You are a unique masterpiece created for good works. And just because you have children doesn’t mean that you have to stop being uniquely you. Remind yourself of what you enjoy. Who were you before you had children? Maybe you need to dedicate one hour a week to doing something creative like writing or photography or creating. Don’t be a martyr for your children. It would be a terrible thing for your children to see that being mom is about letting your dreams die. Instead, pursue your dreams so that your kids will see that being mom doesn’t mean letting go of your dreams and ambitions. I recently started a podcast called Surviving Sarah. It’s a show where I have conversations with different people to highlight who they are and what they do so that women will be inspired, informed, encouraged and entertained to survive in this very thing we call life. My daughters think I’m famous because I’m on iTunes and Taylor Swift is on iTunes. I love setting an example to them of imagining the life you want and then invite them along while you pursue it.
Surviving motherhood is hard. It is not for the faint of heart. I am cheering you on as you feed that baby, change the 100th diaper, wipe snot and endure that epic tantrum. You got this. You are a beautiful, unique masterpiece created for good works.