I’ve Lost Myself

After this last year of COVID and becoming a mom, I’m having a hard time finding who I am.

I have historically been a pretty self-aware person. I am aware of my flaws and can allow myself to see my strengths. (Sometimes) I can feel myself in a group of people and seen how to fit in with a group or excuse myself from feeling the need to fit in.

That has all gone out of the window lately. I have been so wracked with anxiety lately, a lot of it centered around managing others’ expectations and my own identity.

Who Am I?

Truly, who am I now? I have emerged from our “out of normal lives” into a completely different place in life. I’m a different person in SO many ways I haven’t had to chance to know who I am.

I feel so much pressure to show up, but when I do, I don’t know who will arrive.

A large part of being a human is knowing who you are in the context of others around you. I haven’t had that in over a year. My context has been temporary and filled with faces on screens, not people who can see with their eyes what my life looks like. I’ve been able to curate myself to my audience, showing the pretty parts, or even the abridged versions of the hard parts. Very few know the actual pain that’s in me. It’s been too easy for me to hide.

I think there has also been so much pressure in our world to keep it looking good to others. I will always think about how in a Zoom meeting, my husband was told that holding our daughter was unprofessional. There have been so many times that I’ve felt the need to “hide” the fact I have a daughter, but every time I go into the office to work (a traditionally baby-free environment) I’m asked where my daughter is.

I have often been thinking about how I’m supposed to be when I have no idea who I am.

Identity in Christ

I’m a good church girl, so I’ve of course thought about how I need to ground myself in the reality of where my identity lies. I know, after all, my identity is in Christ.

Honestly, though, I’m terrified of that thought. Jesus has felt so inaccessible to me for so long. I don’t want to walk towards him with my ugliness and my brokenness. I want to be able to keep curating my context with him.

I’m learning, even though it’s SO hard, to let that go. To abandon my need to control my image. To let myself just be. To just exist in the presence of God and to let that be enough. Work fades, motherhood, wifely duties, friendships, they all fade. Jesus won’t and he is enough.

I don’t write this as a neatly wrapped package. I am a true mess right now. I hope there are others in this spot and that we can turn to the unmovable things in our life to hold to.

Adjusting to the Overwhelm

We can all agree this last year has been a complete doozy. But a different doozy then we have experienced before.

When I think about where I was at a year ago, it almost seems surreal. It was a new type of fear to live in. Adjusting to the unknown, trying to hold hope, but to also be realistic. The loneliness was hard to grapple with. The transition into motherhood was dark and isolated. It was hard to relate in a real way to people about things I couldn’t even understand. The tension of the world and the tension within me made me cynical and sad.

When I look back at my life before the pandemic, I am just in awe of the breakneck speed I was living at. I was busy all day, almost every evening and each weekend was usually booked. After living a year of things moving in slow motion, I can’t imagine going back to that. Especially now with a very active baby.

Now we are in this new phase of COVID world, where there’s a lot of hope juxtaposed by the hopelessness of the heartbreak in our country. We are all still very much in a grieving season. Grieving for lives, for connection, for peace. But in this season, we can still see the horizon. The illusive “normal”.

The Usual Overwhelm

Before COVID and since COVID, overwhelm has been a theme for my life. Even though there has been moments of thriving in the midst of it, I have been just moving from one overwhelming day to another for years now. As we move away from this craziness, I am learning we are moving to a new, different type of overwhelm.

I have often wondered what a “normal” transition into motherhood would’ve looked like for me. I have also wondered what this year would’ve looked like without pregnancy and being a new parent. I truly can’t imagine what those paths would have looked like, but I am thankful for the path God set me on.

Don’t Look to Far Ahead

As things slowly move back to a world without COVID, I am trying to adapt to the overwhelm that is coming again. I don’t know exactly what it will look like. I don’t know what I’ll be doing or what I will be overwhelmed with, but I know it’s coming.

I have taken comfort in Jesus’ words this past year to help get through the lonely, the hard, the good, the overwhelming days.

 Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need. So don’t worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring its own worries. Today’s trouble is enough for today.

Matthew 6:33-34

My task is to just worry about today. Tomorrow’s overwhelm is it’s own problem.

Holding on to Guilt

Can I talk to you about Mom guilt? It might be a phrase you have heard before, but let me paint a picture of what it is looking like in my life.

My dear, sweet daughter takes the worst naps. I do everything I can to get her to sleep well. Dark room, white noise, sleep sack, lullabies, rocking her, nursing her to sleep. Just as much as I humanly can to get my girl to sleep. Sometimes this takes 45 minutes. Usually, I put her in the crib and if she doesn’t wake up immediately after her back touches the mattress, she only sleeps 30-40 minutes. It’s an exhausting ritual we go through and I just cry somedays with how demanding it is to be chained down by her nap schedule.

There is of course one magic bullet we have found that gives us freedom from the fight that is napping: her swing. It is a magical device that can help her nap for hours if we let her. It’s a hands-free way to get the space to do my work, to clean, to shower. I keep an eye on her in the monitor and I check in on her anytime I feel a bit wary about her position. But at the end of the day, it’s been a game-changer.

But here’s the catch, swings aren’t sleep approved anymore. There has been a recent shift against using swings for any amount of sleep. You can read more here if you want, but this dilemma has now plagued my mind for months. I know, for generations, baby swings have been used by loads of parents for lots of babies. But there is still a risk.

In moments of desperation, I have used the swing for the naps. She needs the sleep, I need the break, I don’t know what else to do. I know that being a parent is largely just being in survival mode.

I would tell any other mom in my position to do whatever she needs to get through this phase. I would not guilt her in her choices, and I would try and help her know she is doing a good job and is enough. I cannot extend the same grace to myself.

My experience of mom guilt has largely been self-imposed. I don’t have a group of moms I talk to. I don’t post anything on social media about my parenting habits. There isn’t anyone that would “tattle” on me about my baby sleeping in a swing. I bog myself down with the feeling that I am not doing enough. That I am failing my daughter.

I wish I could say that this feeling is something I’m moving beyond. That I have learned to give myself grace in, but to be honest I have struggled so much with this today. This swing issue has also highlighted for me all of the other times I don’t give myself grace. How many times I have put on guilt that didn’t belong to be there. How many times I shamed myself for not being good enough.

I don’t want to remember this phase of my life as being overwhelmed by guilt. I want to let myself feel joy and gratitude towards God for the ups he gives and the downs he has brought me through. I want to know that I did my best with what I had and to know that God does and will fill in all of the gaps left by my humanity.

Where have you let guilt take control in your life? Where do you need to give yourself grace? Let’s let go of our guilt and let God fill in the gaps.

We Are All Keeping Secrets

I told Russell today that I felt like I was keeping a secret from my long distance best friend. She’s coming home to stay and live here soon, so this reality of being found out is a hard one to swallow.

It’s not either of our faults. I had a baby, she was making a cross country move. We were both overwhelmed. Because my schedule and routine disappeared once my baby arrived, we weren’t able to have our daily phone calls. The silence and the experiences we are going through alone have felt like the biggest hurdle we’ve ever faced.

I’ve tried my best to be a good communicator despite how much my life has changed. But I can’t help but feel so much fear with having to be honest.

I didn’t tell her how much I’ve been struggling. How I have been crushed by the depression, anxiety and isolation of my life. How many times I’ve lost a grip on what is true. How much I am still in the midst of it.

It’s not actually a secret, but it feels like one. It feels like one I have kept from everyone. How do you honestly and accurately talk about your struggles when you don’t have the luxury of face to face? How do you open your heart to someone who doesn’t know what you’re going through over a text? Even if it is someone in your similar situation, how do you actually ask for help?

I have wrestled with this idea for months now. And the more I think about it, the more I know others must be feeling the same way. This COVID world has put us all in isolated places. Where our experiences are so hard and unique and we don’t have our normal networks of support to lean into. We are all keeping our own secrets.

I know and believe that our God isn’t one of secrets. Mystery, yes, but he has saved us from the prison of secrecy. We don’t have to live in shame and fear of what we are, or have done or have felt. We are free from that.

How do we then live in this reality? How do we do it now? Without being able to hear the tone of someone’s voice accurately, to see their body language, to feel the intention in their words? This is something I want to find. There are so many of us really struggling with the day to day and not being able to have an outlet in any way.

There is a fine line between vulnerability and overexposure. And I don’t think there’s a clear formula to follow with that, but we all know it when we see it. Either side takes kindness. Elevate those who are honest in their interactions. Have grace for those who don’t have the purest of intentions.

If you are struggling, please reach out. I’m not perfect or an expert in anything. But I want to be a part of the solution. If you are not someone struggling, take the time to ask those you don’t see how they are doing. Give space for their honesty if you can take it. And I think above all, let’s all talk to God first. He is our ally and advocate. He cares, he knows, he sees.

Let’s all give space for honesty and vulnerability. Let’s be wise in stepping into those spaces when we see the opening.

Need for Connection

This year has had me question so much. Pregnancy was exhausting, humbling and frustrating. COVID has left little room for taking a breath. Parenthood has taken away my control and restructured my life.

There is one theme I have felt deeply for years that has come to a peak. There has been a lack of depth in my life. I crave it. I can almost feel it on a physical level. I have bandaids and good habits that sustain me for the short term, but this last year has taken all of that away from me. The way I think has changed a lot.

Doubt is a big part of my days. Doubt in my work, my parenting, my relationships, my faith. I second guess almost every piece of my day. I can now see how my isolation has just become an echo chamber for my thoughts. I don’t have a chance to empty my brain and bounce my thoughts and feelings anywhere. It’s not healthy. My heart and mind are very weary.

I think a weird/hard symptom of our technology and social media filled world is the percieved proximity we have to connections and audience we all crave. I have often dreamed thought and dreamed about being an “influencer” to be a successful blogger, to actually commit to writing. Hell, I’ve thought about being a youtuber. I just so deeply desire connection. I keep relying on and believing in the lie that the internet could hold any of the connection I really need.

We can all absolutely agree that there is no replacement for face to face genuine interaction. Especially after this year. But I (and we) still seek to fill those needs with cheapened versions. How do we meet these real and intense needs?

I honestly just don’t know. I don’t know how God fits into this equation either. I know the sunday school answers of “God is always with us” and “He fulfills all of our needs”. I believe these to be fully true, but I don’t know how to make them real for me for in this time of high need. I’m sure I could put new habits into practice, find a new devotional to read, listen to more sermons, drink a better coffee. Whatever.

I know and believe in the never ending depth and connection that God is. I really hope for it to be fully realized in my life. I want to know what a deep, dynamic, loving relationship with the God that is all of those things. To find him in the relationships with other humans in this world. To find and hope to this solid foundation so if and when I land back in this place, I know where to run.

How Becoming a Parent Has Helped Me Appreciate My Flaws

I have a long list of insecurities, as most of us do.

I have always hated my brown eyes. In my life long pursuit of being unique, my brown eyes have always kept me solidly in the “common” category.

My mixture of Polynesian and European creates this lovely phenomenon of hair. I have an insanely thick head of hair, but it comes at the expense of lots of dark, thick body hair.

I’m emotional and deep, and that can be my downfall in many a relationship. Depression and anxiety have torn me apart and still keep me from being okay with myself.

I grew up so skinny. I would say scrawny. I used to long for the day that I could have curves, to not get so many comments on how I was so tiny. Then around 23, boom. I gained a lot of weight and I haven’t been able to keep it off since. I still wasn’t happy with how I looked.

I come on strong nine times out of ten. I present as a friendly person but tend to come off as sarcastic and mean after the first impression.

I have cried many tears over my body’s and soul’s “failures”. I regret wasting my time on it, but that is the reality. I feel such a weight of inadequacy. I’m sure you feel that too.

Change in Perspective

But since my daughter has entered this world, my view of myself is changing. It’s not an overnight deal, it’s a real process.

As she gets older and I look at her, I’m seeing more and more little reflections of myself in her. Her eyes, though not set in color, look at me with a dark brown warmth. She feels all of her little feelings with intensity. She was born tiny and skinny and covered with hair. She now is smooth and has rolls. She’s selective with her smiles and often looks at the world with a stern face. All of these things I have hated in myself I love in her.

It’s been humbling to deny myself the pity party of hating things in myself in order to love them in my daughter. It’s not worth my energy to obsess over myself and not give love to this sweet little person who is half me.

God’s Design

I never expected to learn to love myself more as I became a parent. I’m overwhelmed by the beauty of God’s design in it. And to learn how God looks on us as his daughters and sons. Even in our human brokenness, God’s goodness can be seen.

Aspen Leaves

I did one of my favorite things a few weeks ago. I went up to the mountains to look at the aspen leaves that have changed to yellow. It’s a big event for us here in Colorado and I have always relished the beauty that fall brings here.

Now this year we had a cranky baby in the car and COVID had made the small mountain towns even more like ghost towns, but I wasn’t able to go last year and I was pretty determined to go this year.

Even though I’ve driven this road almost every year of my life, this year held a special kind of magic. We were driving through a beautiful stretch of the pass with high peaks and low valleys and I caught myself feeling in awe of what I was seeing. My husband makes fun of me every year for how I react to the leaves. I make weird noises and just keep saying over and over, “It’s so pretty!” I didn’t make much noise this year because of how daunting it felt to be in the midst of things so much grander than myself.

For better and worse, 2020 had been such an insular year. We were quarantined, still maintain a small social circle, there’s been no travel at all. It’s been a unique year in that sense. On top of the world changing, my own personal world changed. I navigated through pregnancy and now am in the midst of motherhood. I don’t have groups of moms to meet and hang out with regularly. I don’t have a normal church service to attend. I have seen family and a few friends. I have been so much in my own small world for a very long time.

Taking a trip to the mountains usually is something my husband and I do every few months. Living right next to America’s Mountain still is a thrill for me. But this trip to see the leaves was eye-opening. For the first time in months, I was reminded of how small I am in this world. I had been so big in my mind and the Holy Spirit was kind to remind me of my smallness.

We are all small pieces in the world around us. Small, but still so significant. There is so much peace in knowing that we are seen and loved by God even when we get lost in the crowd to others. We are like each aspen leaf, unique and significant. When put together and viewed from a higher perspective, we can inspire awe.
What are the ways you find and embrace your smallness?

What are ways you find and embrace your smallness?

Many Days Like This

Today was not my best parenting day. It’s not because I snapped or got too emotional or really anything that bad. But I know that I want on my A-game.

I’m still so freshly new to this parenting thing. I’m surprised I haven’t gotten to this place sooner. I know that there will be many more days like this, but it’s sad to feel it creep in already.

Now I didn’t do anything wrong today per se. I didn’t drop my child or forget her somewhere. I didn’t lose my temper and yell at her. On paper, I did all that a parent is supposed to do.

I just let my selfishness win. I could feel my wants and desires coming before my baby’s. I could feel my frustrations coming from her not doing what I wanted, instead of her not having her needs met. It makes a big difference when you make the choice to die to yourself instead of letting your selfishness win. It makes more of a difference when your a parent.

Even though today wasn’t my greatest day, it was what today was. I’m thankful for getting a chance to vent and for fresh starts each day.

Becoming a Parent in a Pandemic

I have a 5 week old. What a weird amount of time that is. It feels like it flew by, but it also feels like it’s taken forever to get here. I know that 5 weeks is nothing in the grand scheme of my daughter’s life, but it still has held so much in that short time.

She was born. We stayed in the hospital and experienced our first days of being parents. We introduced her to our family and friends. We navigated sharing tasks. I struggled through pumping for 2 weeks and the journey of breastfeeding. We adjusted to less sleep. We learned how to graciously accept help. We learned how to buck up and do somethings on our own. We went to coffee shops to have little 30 minute chunks of normal life. We went on one successful walk. We learned she laughs in her sleep. We are still learning all the time.

It’s a really unique and intense time.

There are so many moments of really hard moments and moments of pure bliss in my life right now. Even though I am on a parenting journey, I do feel like our whole world is in a state of liquid time and extreme feelings. This pandemic has framed the world in such a different way for all of us. I feel like becoming a mom in the midst of this has given such depth to this weird experience. I can see my world experience this from my unique spot in the middle.

It’s a really unique and intense time.

I will admit these past few days have been hard. It’s my heart’s desire to meet all of the needs for my little baby, but I can’t communicate with her. I’m not able to meet every need at the right moment she needs it. I know that logically that’s expected, but my heart can’t take it. It’s a weird thing God does to change you once you transition in to parenthood. My already tender heart has become so much more tender. With this new heartache, I am finding myself longing for the future. The days when I can talk to my daughter, the days when sleep will be easier to get, the days where she can do things for herself. While I think it’s a good thing to look ahead with anticipation, I am trying not to miss out on the moments of life and joy right now.

It’s a hard thing to live in the present when things aren’t comfortable or just down-right really hard. I have found that in a COVID world and in my first season of parenting this is really true.

So, how are you staying present? What struggles do you have with staying present?

We all know seasons come and change. This current season has felt so long, but it will change. I need to rejoice in the moments that God has laid out for me in it.

Day 5 as a Mother

I have really dreaded being a mother. To have a little being that I’m responsible for, that needs ME all day long. It made all of my selfishness shine. But here I am. Day 5 of it, and it’s not even like I made a choice. I just became what I am. My sweet baby makes this so easy. I feel comfortable, I feel empowered to be what I am. She’s let’s me be this new person I’ve been all along.

Sitting down now, rocking my daughter her laying peaceful on my chest, I am overwhelmed by how much I adore this. The lead up to this birth was so hard. I was a very un gracious pregnant person. I hope to be a more gracious mother.

I know I’m in the honeymoon phase with parenting, but oh man I’m basking in it. My body is sore, I’m sleepy, but I am SO full of joy.

God’s goodness is fully seen here. He knew me as a mother, he knit together this child, he enabled me to get to this place. He truly knows what we need so much better than we know.