It’s not about me, and I like it that way (who knew)

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I used to live in a world that revolved around me (or at least I thought it did). Having kids turned my little world upside down because from day one it was clear that it wasn’t about me anymore. Becoming a parent is a huge life change and can be especially hard if you’re not naturally the selfless type (like me). However, when the craziness of that first year passed, and I could catch my breath a little, I found myself slipping back into my old selfish ways.

I watched as an unmarried coworker of mine spent money on fun things like motorcycles and vacations. His life was relatively carefree and still was all about him. He could do what he wanted when he wanted. My life as a mom, on the hand, was not so glamorous. Before we had kids my husband and I came close to buying a type of 3 wheeled motorcycle called a Spyder. We decided to pass on it since we were hoping God would bless us with a child soon (which He did), and we realized that a Spyder and parenthood did not go together. Sometimes we still talk about our dream of cruising around on a Spyder, but we know that dream won’t be realized for years, if ever. We also would love to own a house. We have a nice condo, but someday we hope to have a backyard, an attached garage for my husband to setup a workshop in, and space… oh how wonderful it would be to have space! Yet again we find that with daycare expenses we cannot afford a house. When I was single I thrived on “me time,” but such time has become very limited now. Whereas being a mom is a wonderful blessing, it can be exhausting at times too.
These feelings started to get the best of me and left me rather confused. I wanted to be a wife and mother, and I adored my son (when this took place I only had one) and husband. I tried to handle those confusing feelings by focusing on how to make me happy again. I started spending more time with friends and doing more of what I wanted. Whereas at times I enjoyed catering to myself, in my core I was still unhappy. Fortunately God stopped me before I got too far down a bad path. Suddenly I found myself pregnant and listening to a sermon that could have been written just for me the way it nailed me to the cross. The priest eloquently explained how our lives can get off balance when we try to make ourselves the center of it. That was exactly what was happening to me! That moment was a turning point.

Now I’m amazed to find that I’m glad it’s not all about me because it’s about something greater than me. Ironically, seeking my own happiness made me unhappy. When I started focusing on caring for my family, however, I began to feel fulfilled again. Instead of focusing on me (my wants, my needs), I changed my focus to Someone greater than me. With that simple change in perspective, there was suddenly meaning in the simpleness of my life. Being a wife and mother was now a vocation and a way to serve and grow in faith and love. It is in caring for my family that I experience God’s love for me. When I am the center of my life instead of God, then the purpose of my life becomes pleasing me, which I can’t ever really do because we were meant to live in companionship with our Creator, and without His love we will always feel incomplete and unfulfilled.

To be clear, I’m not suggesting neglecting your own well being, nor do I mean to imply that every selfish tendency has been magically wiped from my being. My point is simply that it was my experience that focusing on loving others (as brought about in my case by my vocation as a spouse and mother) has made my life one that I enjoy and is meaningful to me. My suggestion to anyone who is feeling lost, confused or unhappy– who is wondering if the grass is greener on the other side or if they are on the right path, is to focus on what is most important to you rather than on yourself. Really dive into caring for the people that matter most to you as if it were your job. Have fun with it too! I hope you’ll find as I did how powerful a simple change in perspective can be.

Please share with me. Did getting married or having kids help you discover a better version of yourself? Did you ever feel like you got off track, and what helped you get back on track? How do you keep your life focused on what is important to you?
   

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105 thoughts on “It’s not about me, and I like it that way (who knew)

  1. This quote caught my attention after reading your blog: The grass is greener where YOU water it. ~Neil Barringham

  2. Pingback: Blogelina Commentathon – Group Two | Blogelina

  3. Having children definitely helped me to get over myself. And being God-centered instead of self-centered helps me put it all in prospective. Serving others is what it's all about. Great post!
    Alli recently posted…10 Secrets to Looking Great in PhotosMy Profile

  4. Great post! Very insightful for me since my husband and I are at the point of wanting to start a family :)

    • How wonderful! I hope you enjoy motherhood as much as I have. If you are not already, you may want to consider monitoring your cycles. I found that really helpful when we were ready to start a family.

  5. Having children definitely changes you and your life. I look back thinking if I would change things…and even though our first daughter came unplanned and earlier than we had expected…I wouldn't change a thing. I love the life we live and wouldn't have it any other way!
    SouthernMessMom recently posted…FreckleBox Review & GiveawayMy Profile

    • I couldn't agree more! We weren't expecting my youngest so soon, but every time I look at him I thank God for blessing us with him. It really worked out perfectly because God knew what we needed even if we didn't.

  6. I think I struggle with the balance between me time and kid time. I never know how much time I should give to my kids each day. I'm just not very good at playing. It makes me feel selfish. Any tips?
    Jenna@CallHerHappy recently posted…Hamilton Beach Giveaway – woop!My Profile

    • I don’t think there is a set amount of time as each family is different. Personally I like to spend as much of my kids’ awake time with them as possible. However, I do have a long list of things that need to get done, so I’ll spend some time just focused on them and some time doing various tasks in their vicinity (like doing laundry while my youngest rolls around on his mat). I also think the occasional date night or walk with a girl friend, etc. is an important part of keeping you refreshed and ready to spend time with your kids. Regarding not being good at playing, I know what you mean. Sometimes trying to act like a kid (i.e. pretending to be a kitty) can be a bit awkward. When requested I just do it anyway. However, if there are other kids for your child to play with, that can help take the pressure off you to be the sole source of entertainment. Also, try finding places you can go for a low cost or no cost that make play time easier, like a park, library, or local zoo. Anyway, long winded response… hope that helps.

  7. Absolutly. It is all about the kids and what will benefit them. I am okay with that. Sure I get my time, but now that I have kids I rather spend it with them.

  8. I love the fact that you are willing to share your story of personal growth in such a candid and honest way. This blog will be a great documentation of your journey with your children—something I know they will appreciate reading when they are adults.

    Elle

    • I really appreciate that, thanks. I hope that by sharing my experiences it might help encourage someone else who is going through something similar. Hopefully if my kids ever read my blog someday they will be old enough to understand the ups and downs of parenthood. :)

  9. Having kids definitely altered my priorities, but it's such an adventure I wouldn't change it for the world. Looking out from yourself brings such massive benefits, kids enrich our lives not limit them!
    Jill recently posted…Michael Morpurgo – An Elephant in the GardenMy Profile

  10. What a great post. I had to smile because our pastor gave a very strong sermon one Sunday that was titled "It's Not About Me". Our pastor can get pretty loud when he's really passionate and spent the sermon repeatedly slapping his chest and saying "it's not about me" then lifting his hands to God and saying "it's about You". My husband and I still quote him at times! :) I'm happy that the Lord led you to find new joy in your role as a wife and mother. I always have felt that when your feeling empty, you have nothing to give, and the only one who can fill you up is God. Not other people or things. I really enjoyed reading your post!
    Kim {StuffedSuitcase recently posted…Throwback ThursdayMy Profile

    • I love the story about your pastor. I can just picture his antics. Too funny! You're absolutely right– our society teaches that if we just had enough money or toys that it would fill us up, but it never will– only God can. I'm glad you enjoyed the post. Thanks so much for your comment.

  11. Yes, life does seem to be better when we are not solely focusing on our own needs and wants. I too, became less 'me' focused once I had a family of my own.
    Rachel Lavern recently posted…Balancing PrioritiesMy Profile

  12. If you think becoming a parent changes you, just wait till you become a grandparent! Amazing how clear the need to stay on track becomes, it's about a whole lot more than it was before, but the bottom line is it is never about what we do or who we think we are, it's about what He did 2000+ years ago.

    • Being a grandparent must be a whole new adventure! I know my parents are really enjoying it. I love this, "The bottom line is it is never about what we do or who we think we are; it's about what He did 2000+ years ago." Thank you.

  13. When I think about my life before kids, I think about all the time I wasted that I could have volunteering in different organizations. I kept myself busy with home projects and cleaning, but I didn't realize how much time I truly had to give until I no longer had it to give.

    Great post!
    Michelle recently posted…Focusing on Your PassionMy Profile

  14. Being married 1.5 years now (WOW – time flies by!) I definitely appreciate the few times a month that we give each other to just have 'me' time. But I am really looking forward to starting a family! Just seeing how my husband and I have grown in our relationship with each other and with Christ, I can't wait to see what else God has in store for us when He brings children into our lives :)
    Becky @ Eliorah recently posted…Six Fall FavoritesMy Profile

    • Absolutely! I think one of the best ways to summarize the experience of parenthood is that it's one of the hardest and most wonderful adventures of life. It challenges you to be a better person, but that's not exactly a bad thing, is it? And the love and the joy children bring into your life is indescribable. Best wishes for your future family.

  15. This is a great post- thanks for sharing your story. I feel like each phase of my life grows me into the person I am….and then comes a new phase that grows me into the person I am …. and so on. God has a plan, and though I feel I have gotten off track, he guides me back to the right way always!

    • So true. Each phase of life brings change, and hopefully at the end we will have learned what God was trying to teach us and become the person he always knew we could be… maybe even had a little fun along the way. :)

  16. Did getting married or having kids help you discover a better version of yourself?

    YES, YES and YES! Before getting married and having children I was a complete independent lady, then having children, and getting married helped me to multi-task, creative, and then some, they made me into a better person for sure! Great post!
    Trista recently posted…Socially Awkward Link-Up‏My Profile

    • Multi-tasking is an area I definitely have grown in, and I've learned to be more efficient, but I still have room for growth on this one. :)

  17. I'm not married and don't have kids. LOL. Just a college student trying to find my passion. I got a burnout from my past career and this September, I'm in school to be a phlebotomist! Excited! I just love helping people and want to make my life more meaningful.
    sila recently posted…How to Make Cauliflower BreadMy Profile

    • Congratulations on your new career path. I'm glad you've found something your more passionate about. College is a great time… Hope you enjoy it!

  18. I think becoming a Mom changed in both good and bad ways, but starting a blog helped me bring back a part of me that I liked and missed from before I was married and had kids.
    Jeryl M. recently posted…Funny Friday -Who’s in charge?My Profile

    • I know what you mean. I used to love reading and writing, but as my life became increasingly busy I lost touch with that for a while. Blogging has allowed me to read in short spurts, which works well with my schedule these days. Plus many of the blogs I read encourage me in my role as a wife and mother, and writing helps me sort through my thoughts and experiences. So glad I discovered blogging. :)

  19. Oh – I'm positive that becoming a parent made a very positive change in my life.
    Libby's Library recently posted…The READING LESSON – Levin and Langton / ReviewMy Profile

  20. As a single twenty-something… I'm cherishing all the me time I can… but I'm glad to see that it's just as rewarding to share it with others!
    Jacky recently posted…Never ForgetMy Profile

  21. Great post! As my husband and I are hoping to start a family soon, this hits very close to home and it's something I've definitely struggled with. Thank you for sharing something so personal!
    Sarah B. recently posted…10 Surprising Sources of Gluten ContaminationMy Profile

    • Thank you. I am glad it was meaningful for you. Best wishes for your growing family! Having kids is an adjustment, of course, but the amazing far outweighs the difficult.

  22. When we care for others we are at the same time caring for ourselves. Great post!
    Cherri recently posted…Walk This WayMy Profile

  23. I have had pretty much the same experience. When it's not about you and it is about others God fills you with peace and contentment. What a great inspiration. :)
    Crisi recently posted…Can We do it all?My Profile

  24. I love this, we are currently expecting our first little one, and man have priorities already shifted!

    • Congratulations!! I know exactly what you mean. Isn't it amazing how that little person can impact your life before they're even born (sometimes even before they're conceived)? By the way, as amazing as it is to meet your baby, the first month can be tough, but I promise it gets easier.

  25. I never thought I was a selfish person but I know that I was. I have on occasion "felt sorry for myself" because I felt my identity was lost somehow since becoming a wife and mother of two wonderful kiddos. I have learned that is not the case though, I am me, I still have my own thoughts, opinions, and needs, they are just different now than they used to be when it was just me.
    Alison recently posted…Friday the 13th – Superstition or Fact?My Profile

    • I don't think I would have described myself as selfish back then either, but now I realize I was in many ways unfortunately. And I know what you mean– it's like a whole new identity to adjust to, even though it's still you.

  26. I was very shock how hard a job of a married woman was. I started thinking that I should have been able to pursue my career if I hadn't got married. It was 11 years ago when I just delivered my dear first son. Now I just think what would I be if one day my sons leave me just with my husband alone. The time is running and we are not going to meet children the same like they are now. Just enjoy them as long as I can. Nice to meet you…
    Adelien Tan recently posted…Second Month of Our Homeschooling 2013-2014My Profile

  27. Great post! When we care for others we are helping ourselves!

    Thanks!

  28. I keep my life focused by helping others, and my family whenever possible. Its a great feeling to think of others. :)

  29. It is a shock to the system when you have children and you can't just think about yourself but then you realise that you don't want to anymore there are people so much more important. Great post xx

  30. Good for you for finding your happiness. I haven't had any children yet, but I feel as though I won't be fulfilled until I do. Hopefully that is when I'll find my happiness.

    • Having children is wonderful and fulfilling, but I hope you are able to find ways to connect with and care for others in the meantime. Each phase of life brings with it unique gifts, though in some phases those gifts are more obvious than in others.

  31. When we begin motherhood I think women often have the notion that they have to be perfect and having selfish desires while being a mother makes them feel as though they are bad parents. But we are human, we are selfish and imperfect in nature. Thank you for being real with us, as uncomfortable as it might have been.
    Esperanza recently posted…10 Things My Children Have Taken From MeMy Profile

    • Hi Esperanza. I think it's easy for women to be hard on themselves, especially when they become mothers because the responsibility of caring for a little person is so great. You're absolutely right though– we are not perfect and never will be. Being a mom is hard work, so it's ok to give ourselves a break every now and again. And thank you, it is uncomfortable to admit the ways that I fall short, but one of my hopes is that my blog will encourage other mothers, and that is never going to happen if I can't get over myself and be real.

  32. I know for me there have been times that I wish I could just pick up and go and do what I want or buy what I want without having to worry, but then I remember that I have kids and I adore my children and there is nothing in this world I would trade for my babies! My resentment doesn't usually last too long, but I know that when I feel that way, it usually means mommy needs a time out!
    Leila recently posted…Rockstar Ronan {Childhood Cancer Awareness Month}My Profile

    • Yes, it's definitely a different lifestyle when you have kids, but when you look at their sweet little faces you realize that the little things you give up are just little things. I agree with you– even devoted mommies get burnt out and need a break sometimes. It's amazing how something simple like a half hour to yourself can go a long way towards rejuvenating you.

  33. I loved the part where you said that in trying to make yourself happy, your were unhappy. It's so true – serving others is where it's at!
    Jesi of MinivanMaver recently posted…Funny Friday – Convos with Hailey – Are We Hippies?My Profile

    • Thanks. It seems counterintuitive, but i believe God's plan for us is written in us. So if we do not find joy in caring for ourselves, perhaps that's because we were not made for serving ourselves– we were made for serving others.

      By the way, I shared your post with my mom and she loved it too. :)

  34. Having children certainly changes your life and most of us do take a back burner to the needs of our children. It amazes me that there are still some who think its about them and neglect there babies. It was never easy and its always a work in progress.
    Candi recently posted…How Do You Make A Pot of Hot TeaMy Profile

    • Parenthood is challenging, and certainly we can't judge other parents not having walked in their shoes, but I agree that it is sad that some people never seem to get what it is all about.

  35. This really was a tough one for me. I loved working and was pretty well recognized in my field. Switching to being a SAHM mom I had so much resentment and pining. BUT, he's 6 now and I have 4 total and I would not change one single day. Children make the world a much better place.
    Michelle H recently posted…Learning From MemoryMy Profile

    • Thanks for sharing your experience. I know what you mean. I actually wrote a post about being a working mom and discussed how most of us enjoy our jobs more than we think and would struggle to walk away (even if we didn't need the income) in order to be home with our kids. On the other hand, missing out on precious time with our children is a high price to pay for working. A mom's choices are never easy, but if we prioritize our family, we will find our way.

  36. I think being a mom made me a better person. :) I am more responsible now and more caring! :) hehe!

  37. Interesting post. I definitely feel that God has used marriage and parenting to refine me, and to help me take my eyes off of me. There are some great things about that, but also, some hard ones!
    Danielle recently posted…Mrs. Rapidito Slows It Down!My Profile

    • Yes, having our rough edges smoothed out can be painful. I like the person I'm becoming, but getting to this point hasn't been easy, and imagine there are more opportunities for growth in my future. :)

  38. I love this post!!! It's so true, that being selfish and reaching for our own personal gratification, is truly something that will leave us empty. And yet, it is so hard to fight that selfish need at times.

    I am SO glad you now find fulfillment where God truly says we will… it's truly not about us at all!

    • Thank you. I'm glad you enjoyed it. Especially being surrounded by a culture that keeps telling us if you just make more money and buy more things, then you'll be happy, it is not easy to stay focused on what's really important. We're taught that above all things we should value our freedom, and doing what we want when we want sure sounds appealing. But if our top priority is us, then how can we ever really love anyone? And if we don't have love, what do we have? Nothing.

  39. I can totally relate! I had kids very young so I never had "me" time.
    Aubrey @ Homegrown & recently posted…Mostly Homemade Mondays Linky Party – Week 46My Profile

    • I don't know if that's good because you didn't have to give it up or bad because you feel like you missed out. You didn't really miss anything though– you just went straight for the heart of life!

  40. We waited to have kids precisely for this reason. My husband and I wanted to have time for ourselves, so that when we started a family, we were able to give up our freedom wholeheartedly and without resentment. It's a hard shift regardless, but I think for us, it helped that we'd gotten establish our careers, travel, spend money frivolously, etc.
    Olivia @ This West C recently posted…Baby Bullet GiveawayMy Profile

    • I can understand that. I have wondered before if my husband and I rushed through the phases too fast, and if we should have savored the dating phase longer or the married without kids phase longer. I realize now that I’m just a slow adapter, lol. Once I adapted to my role as a wife I was very happy with that role… even happier than I was with my single life. Same thing with becoming a mom. That was a big change in how I view myself, the world, everything, so it took me a while to wrap my head around it, but now it feels like me, my life, and EVEN more wonderful than our life before kids. Funny, I actually wrote a reflection on that for the 4th of July… how many great trips my husband and I had gone on previously at that time of the year, and now we were watching fireworks with our kids on the grass in front of Wendy’s, but I was so content. Isn’t it funny how that works? Anyway, thanks for sharing your experience.

  41. I guess I can not relate totally. I suppose I might be considered selfish. I don't have any young kids. My husband already had teenage kids when we got together. It really is about doing what makes you happy and at times we make sacrifices in order to make our lives better. However, hopefully that situation is only temporary.
    Lisa recently posted…Been there or not?My Profile

    • Hi Lisa. For me parenthood was the right path, but that doesn’t mean it is a fit for everyone. There are many ways to serve, and I hope you will find a path that is fulfilling for you if you have not already found it. Thanks for sharing your experience.

  42. I'm glad you enjoy your family life. I think people need to enjoy what makes they happy. if having children is what they want, wonderful.If someone loves animals their kids, wonderful for them. If people prefer childless or petless lives, wonderful for them. Live the life that makes you happy.
    Tim recently posted…What’s for Dinner? Time to take inventoryMy Profile

    • You are correct Tim. Parenthood is not the only way to serve; it just happened to be the right way for me. Everyone has different gifts to share and that variety makes the world a more interesting place. I would certainly encourage everyone to seek out the best way for them to use their gifts and to find a path that is fulfilling for them.Thank you for your input.

  43. When we have kids, life changes in an instant. Thanks for sharing with us.

  44. I look forward to the day when I will be a mom, but in the meantime, I'm learning to be a great wife for my hubby. I know when kids come into the picture, it will be a completely new dynamic and my life will be for them. Although I feel fulfilled as a wife, I think being a mom will be the most fulfilled I will ever feel…even when I'm yanking my hair out! lol! :)

    • Focusing on being a good wife is a great thing to be doing. After all, one of the greatest gifts you can give your children is two parents who not only love them but love each other. It sounds like you have a pretty good idea of what to expect too… fulfillment and pulling your hair out sounds about right to me. :)

  45. Glad you found peace within yourself and your family. It makes all the difference in the world when you embrace your life and enjoy the day-to-day process…
    Renew Your Space recently posted…Home Organizing Project {Week 5} – The OfficeMy Profile

    • So true! There is so much joy to be found… sometimes it just takes a little change in perspective to see it. I’ve discovered I can be slow to adapt to change, but once I get there, I’m all in.

  46. Jenn – what a fantastic, thought-provoking blog! For me, as a part-time working mother of two littles, I find that I am a better mom during the semester than my summer breaks. I find that I relish the time with my girls, and focus my energies on them. I'm more dedicated to playing, a bit more orgnanized with my day, and more focused on being with them, since I only have so many precious house with them opposed to when it's summer and I'm on break – I tend to lose my cool with them a bit more as we spend so many more house together. (did that all make sense?) Anyways, I can't wait to read more posts!

    • Thanks so much Sara! As you know, I’ve been struggling with being away from my boys for so many hours a day. You’re right though– I really do focus on making the most of the time I do have with them. This was just the encouragement I needed, thank you!

  47. Although it's easier said than done, putting God at the center of my life creates balance. I've been married 24 years and my kids are 18 & 20. My main "trick" is spending time each day with God, my husband, my kids, myself, and most days with someone else. It might mean taking a moment to sit in my daughter's room to just say hi or it might be arriving home a few minutes before everyone else just to enjoy some "me" time. It doesn't have to take long, just something to let everyone in your life know you care :)

    • What a great tip Bethany! Thank you for giving such an easy to understand example of how to find balance in your life and stay focused on what is important to you. Congratulations on 24 years of marriage! Such a beautiful testament that is so needed these days.

  48. I always say that motherhood is the best cure there is for selfishness! Great post!
    Lora @ Adventures of recently posted…10 Random Facts About MeMy Profile

  49. I live my life now putting my family first. I don’t miss those carefree days, although in my youth I always thought I would. These are the best days of my life.
    Jen (livlaughlove.com) recently posted…I auditioned for (Blogger) IdolMy Profile

    • So true Jen! Once I got through the adjustment period I came to the same conclusion. Who would have thought that I would enjoy a simple day with my family more than the carefree days of my life before kids? But I do!

  50. I absolutely think marriage and motherhood has changed me for the better, but there are days when the constant putting others before my self gets to me. I try to balance it with practicing gratitude and joy for the blessings I have and remembering this stage is so temporary. In a few years I will wish my kids wanted to cling to me every waking moment. :) And occasionally, I take a break and get a pedicure.
    Becca @ Bare Feet on the Dashboard recently posted…Meal Plan: Killer Cheesy Garlic Bread {Tasty Sides}My Profile

    • I hear you. Motherhood can be exhausting, and there is definitely a balance that needs to be found so that we stay refreshed and ready to give our all in service of our family. Little breaks (like the pedicure you mentioned) can really help. I’ve also found my perspective makes a big difference. When I can remember why this is valuable then it seems to lighten the load a little. And I agree with you– when my son wants to climb all over me when I’m trying to do something else, I try to remind myself that I am not always going to be able to get in so much cuddle time with him. Thanks for sharing your experience.

  51. Yep, parenthood definitely makes it clear it’s not only about ourselves! As the oldest sibling I always had that role so it’s the one thing about being a parent that never changed. Still, it can be tricky juggling the other ways sharing your life changes things. For me the hardest is scheduling–it feels like I am more over-booked than the president some days lol!
    adAstra @Flexines recently posted…Define the splitsMy Profile

    • I hear you. I’ve had to start turning down activities because when there is too much going on it becomes more stressful than fun. I need occasional time to do things like clean the house and catch my breath. It’s hard though, everything seems so important. Motherhood is a balancing act, isn’t it?

  52. Love your post, couldn’t agree more with you. In fact, I just blogged something similar in my post – I used to be so self-focused before having children, now I am a whole new person. Before we have children, it’s impossible to undesrstand how having children will change us, but it really does. I see the whole world differently now, with more interest but also more worry, and most of all, I try to see it now through my children’s eyes, especially the future.It makes me want to be more active to change things for the better!

    • Thank you! I know what you mean. My expectations before having children of what parenthood would involve were pretty out of touch with reality. I knew it would be hard and wonderful and that it wouldn’t be all about me anymore, but I didn’t really KNOW. And you’re so right; when you start looking at the world with your children in mind you see something very different than before– after all, YOU are responsible for this little person. What a huge thing to be intrusted with!

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