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?