I’ve just come back from a few nights away at a women’s conference and I went ON MY OWN! It’s the longest I’ve ever been away from my family. I was so excited to take a breath. To pause. To remember who I am without hiding behind my kids or clinging to my husband. It’s hard to separate my identity from them. We’re family; part of each other.
So needless to say the first day took some adjusting. I felt empty handed like I’d forgotten something. No buggy, no nappy bag, no child on my hip. I felt a bit unnerved. Having time on my own and engaging in worship – I’d forgotten how to do that! I actually had time and space to meet with Jesus. It was like saying – hello again! Oh yes this is what my soul needs and longs for! And it was actually a bit scary – you know, going ‘there’, being raw and vulnerable. But when I did, man did the floodgates open and a well of emotions poured out of me that I’d kept pushed down for so long. It felt like a relief.
The second day I settled in to it. Enjoyed the uninterrupted coffees, the freedom. Enjoyed being able to worship quickly and deeply. To think and write and re-access. How I needed that refreshment!
Third day. The extrovert in me started twitching. Longing for connection, not to be an unknown in a huge crowd of others. To kiss and cuddle and be back with those that are part of me. To have the busyness back again. I caught a glimpse of my life when the kids have grown up and I’m older and maybe alone. I don’t want that day to come too quick! I suddenly felt overwhelmingly grateful to have my family and to be in this life stage, as exhausting and draining as it often feels (and I often complain about!). And I just longed to be home with them again.
So this is what I learnt:
I AM a mum and a wife. And it’s the most important job I can be doing right now. But that is not ALL that I am. I need to remember and be okay with who I am on my own. I entered and will leave this earth without them. One day they will grow up and leave the nest. And I don’t want to wait until then and get the shock of my life that I can’t remember how to just be me. So I need to make sure I prioritise some space and time during these years for that.
And the most important thing I need to remember is that I am a daughter, before I am a mother. A daughter of the King. That I have a good, good Father. And since becoming a mum I get to grasp that love for me as His daughter a little bit more – His love is wild for me, just like mine is for my kids! And in knowing that and being assured of His love, I can be a better wife, mother and friend.
If I forget my core identity, then I lose myself and my relationship with God for the sake of others. And it’s so easy to do that. As mums we easily sacrifice things for our family. You want half my dinner? Sure! You want to go to the zoo on my birthday? Sure! And that’s a beautiful aspect of our love for our kids. But more than anything I want my kids to know Jesus. So I’ve got to know Jesus. I’ve got to point them to Him, I’ve got to model it. And that’s the best gift I can give them.
So I figure it’s all about balance. Love your kids. Be present to them. Make the most of this time where you are showered with kisses and affection. Where you are needed. Where you get to love and be loved and soak that in- even amidst deep tiredness!
And then go to take a break. Ask for help. For space on your own. Even just one day every few months. Grab a coffee, have a massage! And focus your eyes back on your Creator. To soak Him in and be refreshed. To tune in to what He is saying to you. To sit and be loved by Him and remember who He has made you to be.
1 John 3:1 – “How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!