Intentional Living · motherhood

Cultivating Joy

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I have been an impatient and unhappy mom lately. I hate to admit this, even though to those who know me, who see me mother day in and day out, they know it is true. It isn’t a secret, at least not one that I can keep well. I have been angry, irritable, frustrated, and incredibly impatient. I haven’t been able to pinpoint when it all started or why. My battle with postpartum depression isn’t completely over, I know this and have come to understand and accept what it means for me on a daily basis while I work through it. But even on those days when I am feeling my “normal” self, irritation seeps out of me, regardless of anything I, my husband, or my children do.

I was listening to a podcast with Kate Merrick and she said something that would have stopped me in my tracks if I hadn’t been driving. In regards to her giving up social media after the death of her daughter, she said: “why keep doing something if it doesn’t bring you joy?” This struck me in such a powerful way. I nodded my head in agreement, uttered a silent yes. That one sentence, that simple sentence that I have heard spoken by so many others finally registered with me. I know why I have been so angry and irritable and frustrated. I know what I need to do to be a better wife and mother and person.

So, not more than 10 minutes later, I deleted Instagram off of my phone. A few hours later, I deleted Facebook off of my phone. Suddenly, the last few weeks, months even, made sense. I have found myself idly scrolling on my phone, wasting minutes and hours that I could have been spending with my children or with my husband, watching videos and looking at photos of memories other moms were making with their families. I didn’t think it was a huge problem because I wasn’t sitting there comparing my life to them. I wish we were doing that right now. Look at her relationship with her husband, I wish we were like that. I wish my children would eat like hers. We are a culture that is stuck in the comparison trap, stuck in between a rock and a hard place when it comes to social media- how much of it is too much, how much do we share, what parts do we share? I may not be comparing my life to hers and theirs, but I was ignoring my life, wanting to be somewhere else, and paying more attention to how they were living. I think that’s even worse.

I had a four-year-old right in front of me, wanting me and talking to me and needing me to be present with him, while I sat scrolling through photos of her four- year- old. I had an 18-month-old needing me and instead I was looking at their daughter, a few months younger. I wasn’t comparing them to mine, I just didn’t want to deal with mine in that moment. What an awful thing to say and now that I see it, it doesn’t even make sense. I am escaping my children by looking at the “picture perfect” lives of someone else with children the same age.

It was time for it to go.

Even just after a few hours, I already feel better. I have noticed just how often I reach for my phone, looking for that app just because. I think of all of the things I can do if I am no longer wasting my time scrolling through pictures that don’t convey real life. I can read more, which is something I want to do. I can write more, free up space to think of more ideas. I can sit on the floor and play with my children, read them stories and run through the sprinklers with them. I can be a happier, more patient, more loving mom. I can talk with my husband, be more connected with someone right next to me. I can stop caring about what perfect strangers are doing half-way across the country and throw that baseball to my son who is standing on the other side of the room. I can look at him straight in the eyes and give him all of me, which is all he wants. I can lay next to my daughter as she drifts off to sleep and memorize her sweaty curls sticking to her face, her lips pursed together with the slightest grin left over from her day.

I can be grateful and happy that this life I lead is for me to love and cherish, that these people right in front of me are the ones I have waited my entire life to love. I can finally start living again.

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