Our Keepsake Journal is Here! 🎉

If I could go back in time to when I was pregnant with my oldest, the advice I would’ve given myself is this: Don’t worry about making your kids be good humans. Worry about making yourself one.

Yeah. You read that right. Do I want my kids to be good humans? Obviously. Of course, I do. But here’s the thing, kids do what they see, and what my kids saw was a mom who was lonely, isolated, angry, beating herself up, and very worried about how well she was doing in raising good humans. They saw a woman who didn’t feel like she mattered, who didn’t ask for what she needed, who didn’t set boundaries, who didn’t have a support system, who tried to do it all on her own.

I’ve been a mom for almost 16 years. My kids are good kids. We have struggled. Lord knows we have struggled. I have fought hard for my children. I have fought against their misconceptions and mistakes. I have fought hard against mental illness. I have fought for opportunities and IEPs and 504s and ALPs and I have helped them fight through injuries, bullying, and intrusive thoughts telling them they aren’t enough.

RELATED: Everyone Suffers When You Don’t Take Care of Yourself

But I wish I had spent the early years fighting for myself. I wish I had spent the early years learning how to regulate my emotions. Learning how to be a person who pursues her dreams, learning how to be a person who keeps her word and takes herself seriously but has SO MUCH FUN doing it. I wish I had had the strength to try the things God put me on this earth to do many years ago while they were still young because when little kids see you doing things, they mimic you. If I had healed myself and carved out time for doing things that bring me joy and are important to me, I would’ve been less exhausted. My kids would’ve had a healthier mom who had the tools to help them deal with their own big feelings.

But instead, I inadvertently taught them moms’ dreams don’t matter because kids’ lives matter more. I taught them it was okay to beat yourself up and eat your feelings and not do what God put you on this earth to do. I showed them settling for what the world says you should want is the way to go instead of having the courage to do the things God’s voice has been screaming at you to do for as long as you can remember.

Because if I’m honest, I never wanted to be a stay-at-home mom. It was a terrible decision for me. I didn’t have enough dopamine to stay at home with tiny humans, and I became resentful and lonely. Should I have kept my career as a teacher? That was impossible. My husband had just landed his “dream” job. Someone had to make a sacrifice, or we’d have been paying more than my salary in child care. We’d have lost money for me to teach, at least in the short run. That made no sense. So we did the best we could. And that meant my kids had a mom wandering around with untreated ADHD, depression, and anxiety.

If I could go back, I would call to find a therapist for me the way I called for my kid with autism. (It’s A LOT of phone calls.) I would carve out two hours of every day to chase my dreams. Non-negotiable. And I would stand up for my time, energy, and needs, even if my dreams aren’t bringing in money.

RELATED: The Ugly Truth of an Overwhelmed Mom and Resentful Wife

Because now that I’m squarely in mid-life knowing that we don’t just keep going on forever, I am out of excuses to let fear run my life and keep telling God I don’t know how. Because He’s like, “Dude. Learn. You got the internet, what more do you want? Quit your whining and hemming and hawing. I gave you all of these gifts. Use them.” (I’m paraphrasing the Parable of the Talents quite liberally, obviously)

So now, I am becoming braver than I was before. I am becoming a person who is willing to try things that I was too afraid of before. I am willing to fail. I am willing to put myself out there to fall on my face. It is terrifying. It is painful. It is exciting. It is embarrassing. But it is part of the process of becoming who I want to be. Who I want my kids to be. Who God made me. I am learning there is nothing else. There is no secret. Try. Learn. Try again. Grow. Become. It is never too early, and it is never too late to try.

So God Made a Mother book by Leslie Means

If you liked this, you'll love our book, SO GOD MADE A MOTHER available now!

Order Now

Check out our new Keepsake Companion Journal that pairs with our So God Made a Mother book!

Order Now
So God Made a Mother's Story Keepsake Journal

Emily Donehoo

Emily Donehoo is the lone female in a family of five, a former teacher, and an outdoor enthusiast. She's crazy about books, tacos, pizza, Jesus, and snuggles. You can read more of her writing on her blog.

I Hardly Recognize Myself Sometimes

In: Motherhood
black and white photo of mother crying in bathroom

Hi, my name is Kate and I am 36 and I’m having a serious case of lost identity. Or maybe it’s a midlife crisis. Or a little postpartum depression. Or maybe I’m just tired, overweight and mentally drained. Who knows which one. I have three boys, a husband, a home, and a job I love. I am beyond blessed. I have devoted my life to the humans in my life. And again, most days, I am happy to do it. But some days, some weeks, I don’t feel that way. I feel like I have lost myself along the way....

Keep Reading

You Don’t Always Have to Put Yourself Last

In: Motherhood
Shirt, leggings, socks, and other items, color photo

“I’ve had it,” I tell myself. “I’m tired of putting myself last.”  Like countless other mothers, and out of love and responsibility, I take care of the other people in my family more often than myself. My brain is overloaded with information to indefinitely retain, seemingly insignificant details that keep our household running and happy (usually). These pieces of information could span from where the remote is hiding, to how much cash the tooth fairy should get. Such minutiae may seem superficial, but they are the foundations of routine, structure, and sanity in our house.  Yet they weigh heavy on...

Keep Reading

I Fear I’ve Lost Myself To Motherhood

In: Motherhood
Tired mom holding baby

I always wanted to be a mom. Heck, I think I played babies and house until I was a tween. After that it was babysitting. And then working with kids in college. Thankfully, I was blessed with three beautiful boys. They are loud, wild, healthy, and each perfectly exhausting in his own way. I am the lucky one. I know that. But three kids is a lot. Working, running a house, a baby, breastfeeding, cooking, cleaning, and so on. I mean, don’t get me wrong, I love being a mom. I absolutely love it. And I know I am in...

Keep Reading