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What My Mom Heart Wants to Share

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I love being a mom, but I’m also human. And being human means that I have a selfish streak, one that kicks back at times against the sacrifices motherhood requires. This was a real struggle in the early years of my kids’ lives and can still rear its ugly head occasionally.

During those early years of mothering, I felt a persistent sense of conflict between the deep love I felt for my children and my own desire to accomplish, to grow, to dream as an individual. Simply put, I wanted it all. But, with a mere 24 hours in each day, having it all was impossible. For my role as the chief nurturer of my children to be as I felt it should be, my professional/personal desires had to fall back and vice versa. It was as if my mom heart was in a state of persistent conflict. I was not what you would call content.

We could debate all day the practical factors that contribute to this angst in modern America: greater expectations of mothers as nurturers than of fathers, inflexible corporate work schedules, the gender pay gap, etc. But whether it should be this way was, for me, secondary to how I was going to live my life given these realities.

But as I have grown as a wife, mother and professional (and hopefully become wiser), I’ve found greater contentment in my life of spinning multiple plates. It’s a messy process of trial and error, but I’ve found what feels like balance to me, and there’s satisfaction in that. Here’s what I’ve learned about finding contentment in your life as a mom.

1. Clarify your feelings.

Spend some time journaling or talking it out with a good friend to put a finer point on what it is you want. Do you have a true desire to pursue a particular personal or professional goal? Or, do you simply feel insecure about not having those outward, worldly accomplishments in the company of those who do? If your sense of conflict is fueled by legitimate ambition, pray about ways you might explore that desire while placing the least amount of strain on your role as a mom.

2. Talk with your husband about your feelings.

Notice I said, “talk with,” not “complain to.” There is a difference. Approaching the topic with a positive tone will help you both to think of the possibilities in a positive, objective light. It is crucial for the two of you to be on the same page here or, no matter what changes you make, you’ll simply trade one source of discontentment and conflict for another.

3. Understand that “not now” doesn’t mean “never.”

This is one idea that I wish I would have rested in much more in the early years. Here’s the deal: Those early years of your kids’ lives–the ones where they need so much hands-on care and attention from you–simply fly by. It doesn’t feel like it in the moment, but it’s true. So before you know it, you’re going to find yourself with much more margin and flexibility in your schedule and the ability to take on new challenges with less household turmoil. If you don’t feel peace about pursuing other goals during the years of raising preschoolers, use that time to daydream and plan for how you will use the extra hours of the day when the kids are all in school. It will be here before you know it.

4. At the end of the day, contentment as a mother is about trusting God.

For me, this sense of internal conflict was a spiritual issue. As I’ve grown in my relationship with God, I’ve become less restless. I’ve learned that I can trust him to provide all I need–even personal fulfillment–in every season of life. I came to understand that if I felt a calling to focus without distraction on my children for a season (and I did have that conviction), I could trust that he would bless my obedience to that calling. Not that it would be easy, mind you, but that it would all work out as it should.

Shortly after I gave up on pouting about all the professional opportunities I was missing out on and decided to let God drive in my life, I had a chance conversation with a friend. “Hey,” she said. “I have a friend named George who works for an organization called Family First, and they’re looking to hire a new writer for a parenting and marriage website called It would be a freelance, work-from-home kind of thing. I think you’d be great–can I give him your name?” That was more than six years ago. Six years, countless articles, and thousands of readers ago.

Sometimes, God just winks at you.

Let’s Talk: Have you ever felt the tension between your calling as a mother and other goals/desires? How do you find contentment?

Dana Hall McCain writes about marriage, parenting, faith and wellness. She is a mom of two, and has been married to a wonderful guy for over 18 years.


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