A new year often ignites a desire for change, a fresh approach. For the last several years, I have had the same goals - to get my "fine on," incorporate more healthy parenting strategies, and to improve my financial position. And, every year I start off strong and then fizzle out by the spring. This year I still have those same goals, and I will continue to plow and toil to meet those goals; but, I also wanted to share my wishes for this new year in 2018 for all the moms.
Can I be real for a moment? Let me just say, this mommying thing is tough. Those who know me have repeatedly heard me say this, "Staying married and raising my children are two of the hardest, and arguably two of the most important things that I will ever accomplish in my lifetime. However, I am more than just Kenneth's wife and Bailey, Evan, and Khloe's amazing momma.
Here are my 3 wishes for all moms in 2018:
1) Remember your identity exists outside of your parenting role and responsibilities
I began my life as Leesha Ellis, first born daughter to my wonderful parents. I have created incredible memories, graduated from college and medical school, and fancied big dreams in that space. Now, I dwell in a much more expansive space. As a wife and mother, my heart has completely exploded beyond anything I could have ever imagined. My life is filled with an all-consuming love for my family, more amazing memories, laughter, hugs, sweet kisses, tears, frustration, mistakes, and boo boos.
But Leesha, just Leesha without the mommy title, still exists. When my children grow up and move away to attend college and then get married and start their own families, I will still be Leesha. I want to still know who I am, I want to recognize myself when I look in the mirror, I want to know what I like and what I don't, I want to pursue the desires of my heart, and I plan to still enjoy my husband and our committed partnership. I don't want to lose myself in my role as mommy because I am so much more than her.
2) Practice good self-care
I admit I used to have a very narrow view of self-care. I conceptualized self-care simply as pampering myself - spa services, girls' night out, and date nights with my hubby. Over the years, I have come to appreciate a much broader view of self-care. Self-care is taking active steps to protect your mental health, to nurture resilience which is the ability to adapt and thrive in the face of adversity, and to guard against busyness. It means saying "no" to tasks and projects that will leave your stretched and overextended. It means scheduling only 1 afterschool activity per child rather than 2 or 3 for each child. It means taking a personal day at work, disengaging from the negativity of social media, or distancing yourself from friends who gossip and bring you down rather than lift you up. Drown out hate-filled rhetoric and offensive images. Daily make time for prayer, meditation, and mindfulness to strengthen your resilience.
Moms, I encourage you to adopt this expanded perspective on self-care. Incorporate these principles into your daily life and model them for your children.
3) Extend abundant grace and forgiveness to yourself
Parenting is hard work, and we will make mistakes. I make mistakes every day. I bring home my rough day at work and come home grumpy and irritable and take out my frustration on my husband and children. I yell when I am tired. My patience wears thin. All I want to do is retreat to my bedroom and hide under the covers. I miss PTO meetings. I forget to sign school forms on time. I wait too long to schedule well-child check ups and then end up with an appointment well past their birthday.
There are no perfect parents and no perfect children, but it is often easier for me extend grace and forgiveness to my children instead of myself. Oftentimes, we, moms, are our hardest critics; and, we usually judge other moms too. This needs to stop in 2018, and don't pick it back up again. Acknowledge your missteps, forgive yourself, then choose intentionally to do better for tomorrow is a new day. Do this for yourself and help other moms, too.