I’m having a bit of an identity crisis lately.  Not in the way you may think though.  I’m trying to figure out who ELSE i am…you know….besides Nichole: wife of James, mother of our 4 little Crabblings, homeschool teacher, domestic goddess, unpaid chauffeur, sister, daughter, friend, etc…. It occurred to me several months ago that somewhere in the midst of all these titles and jobs and things and people vying for my attention i’ve lost touch with some of the things that used to define me.

Take fitness, for example.  I work out off & on these days & i still wear what most would consider a despicable jean size for a lady who has birthed 4 children & has been graduated from high school for almost 20 years.  But skinny doesn’t equal healthy.  And these days, i’m not feeling so healthy.  I used to be passionate about being healthy & in lots of ways i still am.  We don’t eat out often, eat a (mostly) clean diet that includes a handful of processed foods and a TON of organic fruits & veggies, lean free-range meats, fresh fish (most of which James & the boys caught this summer) & cage free eggs lain only by hens that have been humanely treated….and yet i still don’t feel healthy.  On the occasions that  i do make time for a workout i attack it with no where near the same consistency and ferocity that i once did.  I’d be lying if i said this doesn’t make me very frustrated & somewhat disappointed in myself.

Most days, I’m exhausted at best; overwhelmed at worst.  The to do list never gets done and when you homeschool you really don’t understand what this “me time” is that other women talk about on social media.   Even when the kids are in bed & the dishes are done there’s always someone or something that needs your attention….even if that someone squeaking the new toy you bought him at your feet & looking up at you with adorable eyes wondering why you’re not sitting on the floor playing with him now that all the little people in the house are asleep.

I’m not looking for a pep talk or a pity party.  I’m not complaining either.  I absolutely love my life, so please don’t misunderstand.  What i’m looking for is women (moms in particular) who will stand up and be honest about this kinda stuff.  Whether you’re a single mom, stay-at-home mom, working mom, homeschooling mom, or a mom whose kids are grown and gone i think we all struggle with these kinds of feelings from time to time.  I think we all try to figure out who we are in each season of life and that usually depends on the number of people who need us & the depth of their needs.   Face it ladies, some seasons are definitely easier than others and often we don’t realize how good we had it & how easy it was until we have moved onto a much more challenging season.  We often feel like we aren’t doing enough or being enough for the people who are depending on us when the reality is that they’re perfectly content & well taken care of.

As i’m working my way through this current season & my place in it, i want to encourage those of you are struggling, like me, to find out where you rank on your priority list.  I’m not talking about selfishly indulging in self-centered, destructive, or unhealthy patterns of behavior.  I’m simply letting you off the hook of mom-guilt on which you’ve been hanging & encouraging you to give yourself a breather every once in a while.  As women & as moms i think we tend to give ourselves all the criticism & none of the credit.  If we are doing our best every day, no one can possibly ask us for more.  And by not making our mental, physical, emotional, & spiritual health a priority, it turns out that we are really shortchanging ourselves because we don’t make time to breathe & enjoy our lives just as they are; all the while finding time to do the things that feed our souls a little from time to time.  Ladies, i challenge you (& MYSELF) to enjoy a HOT cup of coffee instead of setting it down to go wipe someone’s nose & throw the clothes from the washer into the dryer & feed the dog & get the mail & yell at the kid who left the pointy, blue lego on the steps & then coming back an hour later when it’s ice cold & guzzling it down anyway.  Take a walk outside without the dog or the kids & breathe in the crisp, cool fall air.  Read a book.  Paint a picture.  Email an old friend.  Lace up those shoes and get your sweat on.  Sip a glass of wine slowly.  Write a blog.  Whatever that small thing it is that you often put on the back burner to take care of those you love.  Love yourself enough to make yourself a priority sometimes, too.

For the past 2 weeks, i’ve been giving less advice to others taking some of my own (for a change).  I’ve  managed to make my health a priority by setting goals that will force me to work out and keeping myself accountable by dragging a friend along the torturous road that is sure to pave our next several months.  I’m spending more time with Jesus and less time texting and reading status updates.  & I’m finding my voice in this blog…no matter how big or small my audience may be.

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