Finding Myself as a Stay-at-Home Mom was an Unexpected Gift

Often I run in silence. I let the miles slip by as I take in the houses, businesses, and landscape around me. I let my thoughts go wherever they may. It’s truly the most precious “me time” I have found as a mom. Last week, as I plugged away miles on a route I’ve run countless times before, I had a realization that took me aback. I had an “aha, woah, how can this be” moment in the most simple of places, at the most simple of times over the most mundane of topics. I was suddenly struck with the thought that I have been a stay-at-home mom for over five years. For 61 months. For 266 weeks. For 1,865 days. I have been a mom. When I signed up to be a stay-at-home mom, I imagined that this role would totally consume my identity for some time, and I was okay with that fact. I was okay with being a mom to Trace (and eventually Henry) and embraced all that entailed. But after five years, I have learned that in totally embracing life as a mom, I have surprisingly found way more of my own life as well. In losing myself to this role, I have found so many other aspects of myself that I hardly knew existed. 

I have found that I am, above all else, a caretaker. Duh, right? However, I do not mean in the way I care for my boys each day, but in the way I seek to care for others around me. I want to care for my friends, the teachers at school, my husband, and my family. I want others to feel cared for and seen. While caretaker is the most obvious role a stay-at-home mom has, I have been surprised by how pervasive that role is in my life and wonder if I would have found my passion to care for others had it not been brought out by the necessity and desire to care for my children. 
I want people to believe in themselves. I have been a coach for many years and always worked to motivate my players to work harder and believe they could. However, in watching my kids struggle through learning new things and overcoming insecurities and fears, I have found a deep desire to motivate them. I want nothing more than to push them to do hard things and to strive to be better. I want them to overcome fear and feel proud of their accomplishments. While I have motivated my children, I have learned that this is a deep-seated passion of mine. I know that whenever I return to the workplace, I will seek out a career where I can be in a role to motivate others. Cheering on my children has helped me to see how important it is to celebrate the successes of everyone around me. 
I want to work hard for myself and my family. I often dream of spare hours to do nothing, but when those hours come, I always find a way to fill them. If I am not spending time with friends or attending an exercise class, I am generally working. I am cleaning the house or doing laundry or running errands. I am going through closets or organizing drawers. I am weeding the front garden or mowing the grass. I have found a profound desire to work hard for myself and my family, so when we are all together, we can simply enjoy being together. When I am not with my kids, I so often find myself working, but it never truly feels like work so much as a service to the people I love so we can have a great life together. 
I have found my desire to be a cheerleader for others. I want to be excited for those around me who are following a dream or living a passion. I want to cheer for my kids when they are kind or successful and let them know I will always be their biggest fan. I want to be the wife and friend who believes and ensures those that I love know I do. I want those around me to feel supported in their successes. 
As I ran those miles and recognized how long I have committed to the role of a stay-at-home mom, I was overcome with a mix of emotions. I was shocked that five years had gone by so fast. I was amazed at the joy I could find in doing something that can, at times, be so incredibly difficult. Mostly I was amazed that I had given my all to being a mother and poured in my whole heart and soul. I thought by doing this, I would lose myself and my identity, but the opposite happened. In giving my boys all of me, I didn’t lose myself, I found myself. I found who I truly am, and I have been able to create a life that I know will continue to bring me joy. 

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