Sleepless nights, never-ending laundry and dishes, the sticky floor that never seems to stay clean no matter how hard you try. No one can prepare you for motherhood. Yes, their smiles, giggles, and shenanigans make it all worth it, but at the end of the day you’re exhausted and find yourself dissatisfied with a life you should be so grateful for; you’re a mom, after all!
Usually the dissatisfaction comes from comparing your reality to that of other moms — especially with social media’s highlight reels. Why does she have a more fun family? Her husband seems to help her more, her kids are well-behaved — the list of why the grass is greener on the other side gets stuck on repeat in your head. Newsflash: you’re not alone. You’re not the only one who thinks these things, but there are ways to intentionally create gratitude. I believe you can create genuine happiness you might believe you can only experience if your life were a little bit more like “her” life.
Let me state the obvious: everyone is unique. So, wanting someone else’s life could NEVER be the key to your happiness. Getting to know yourself is the #1 way to understand how to create the feeling of joy inside, instead of depending on your reality to do it for you. Have you ever stopped to think how your outward reality is a product of what’s within?
It’s Easy to Lose Sight of Who We Are
It’s no news that with motherhood we lose sight of our identity, our tastes, our desires. It’s a rough transition into being responsible for someone else’s identity, tastes and desires, but whenever a mom is ready to get back into her essence, she should take the time to get to know herself — again. One of my favorite ways to do so is the Enneagram test, a personality test that gives insight into nine different types of behavior. With so many similar tests out there, what sets the Enneagram apart is how it sheds light on people’s dominant type, their strengths and weaknesses from a transformational perspective. You can be so proud of what you’re good at and become aware of what you can improve.
Once you understand how you operate and where certain tendencies and patterns come from, it’s time to define what you want. One of my mentors once said something that really stuck with me: “Specificity is the key to success.” It’s true. If you’re not specific about what you want, what are the odds you’ll ever get it? Here comes another tool to show you how little you probably know yourself at this point, and also how little you’ve been thinking about what you want: make a list of 50 things you want to do, be, have. Can you do it in one sitting? My guess is you’ll hit number five or 10 and get stuck! It’s time to get specific. You want a new car. What car? What year? What’s your budget? It may seem so silly, but so often our wants to stay in the “dream realm” and then we wonder why they never come true.
Finally, set goals and deadlines for your wants. Again, how many goals and deadlines do you have for your family, your littles’ appointments, school activities, and how many deadlines do you have for YOU? Your dreams, your plans — it’s time to set those for yourself, mama.
By now you may be thinking, “Okay, but how do all of these steps take me into being happy?” If happiness is a feeling you can experience at any time, whenever you decide to create it within, then this is your formula:
Rediscover yourself. Maybe you’ve changed a lot after motherhood, maybe not so much. Find out! Here’s where the Enneagram test can be helpful. There are so many things going on inside you that you may not be aware of because the human psyche is so complex. You can only uncover hidden, secret things by asking lots of questions, and with our busy day-to-day life, we hardly ever do that.
Develop empowerment and gratitude. When you make a list of your desires, I encourage you to realize how many things you’ve already accomplished that are related to what you haven’t yet — that’s where gratitude comes from. See, we usually get so caught up on what we don’t have, we forget the good in the past. And I’m not talking about a beautiful family and kids (although, of course, those are great accomplishments as well). Don’t include what someone else does because of you. Here comes the empowerment: while it’s natural to seek validation from your spouse, peers, and family, I encourage you to validate yourself more. What can you be proud of accomplishing today? Even if it’s folding the laundry or wiping the highchairs. Don’t wait for someone else to recognize your efforts to realize your worth. Do it now!
Look at your own future. I know it may be hard to think of yourself as an individual. All your plans usually include the kids’ schedule, the family’s agenda, and your spouse’s workload. What if I asked you to set goals for you personally? Start small but start somewhere. And before guilt creeps in, understand you don’t have to do it all with everybody else in mind all the time, because people learn from people. Your kids will learn from you how to put their own lives into perspective when the time comes. Isn’t that something you’d like to pass on to them?
These exercises are simple but so effective to demonstrate how you may have been letting life pass you by, going through the motions. You might be surprised at how you haven’t given much thought about how your past has influenced your present, how there’s so much to be grateful for today and that you feel empowered to conquer the future. Most importantly, this process can help you see that you don’t need to wait for anything to be happy; there’s no reason why you can’t experience happiness now.