Summer has always been my happy place. The heat, the sweat and my favorite hobby – showing my horse. Almost every weekend involved going to a show, hauling to the trails or attending a horse-type event. It’s my passion, a huge part of ‘me’ and it all ended when I started having my kids… After spending a little too much time feeling sorry for myself (okay, a lot of time), I did what I do best – I researched every aspect of my predicament. Ha, and they call me an over thinker-pff! What I found was not only helpful to my situation, but tragic to realize how common this is among moms. But don’t worry, this story does have a happy ending! That’s because I learned that putting dreams on hold for motherhood is not only beneficial, but, necessary at times and IS NOT FOREVER! There is a way of putting dreams on hold for motherhood without giving up on yourself or your dreams!
When putting dreams on hold for motherhood causes problems
When I was pregnant with my first son no one warned me of the ending of ‘me’. It was generically wrapped in sayings like “a mother’s love” and “mom life”. It was never detailed about how easily you can lose your identity. Or, how quickly each minute, no, second of your day is spoken for. Want proof – how many times do you actually accomplish something while warming something in the microwave for 45 seconds? As mothers, seconds are spoken for. Therefore, things can quickly move to the bottom of the totem pole. Unfortunately, “things” is usually us.
As mothers, selflessness is our jam. We skip showers, meals, shopping trips, girl’s weekends, etc., all for the purpose of meeting the needs of our children and family. It’s not always the physical things we skip. Sometimes it’s not being able to have unhindered devotional time or actually having and using down time (physically and mentally). Over time, this can come with a culmination of feelings like, failure, guilt, anger, sadness, fatigue, and confusion. If that’s not a cocktail for depression and anxiety, I’m not sure what is! However, it is possible to peacefully pause your dreams for a season of life and create a way to successfully return to those dreams.
Putting dreams on hold for motherhood – the expected and unexpected
Some losses are anticipated. For example, when I became pregnant, I knew I would quit riding. The same is for other hobbies that are physically strenuous or dangerous during pregnancy. This makes sense. We can handle these changes, knowing they’re temporary.
What is difficult to process are the unexpected losses. For example, as each day unfolds, there continues to be more tasks than hours – I’m sure you can relate. For me, riding/training my horses consistently fails to make it onto the list of priorities. This is how something that I thought would last the 9 months of my pregnancy turned into to 5 years. Can you relate? Something you thought you’d be back to still seems so far in the distance. But, fear not. There is lots to learn and understand about how putting dreams on hold for motherhood is beneficial, necessary and isn’t forever!
Assessing your current season
Seasons are not defined by which month or year you are in, but more about what experiences are taking place. The first indication that you are in a new season of life is when the normal flow isn’t cutting it. You can’t seem to keep up with the load of tasks. Maybe it’s because you’re making mistakes left and right. You might have new/different/deeper obligations that are requiring more time and energy. You can’t seem to come up with either within your 24 hours. Basically, your mindset is depleting. You’re short fused, upset with why you can’t keep up with everything, angry, sad, embarrassed, insecure, and so on.
When you identify that you are in a new season of life, the first thing to do is prepare your mindset and set yourself up for success. Intentionality is your new friend. To be intentional, you need to know what your priorities are during this season, what needs to happen and what can and should be let go of or paused during this season. Understanding what is important during a season of life makes it easier to priorities which tasks truly needs your mental, physical and emotional energy – because these are all valuable things!
Understanding when putting dreams on hold for motherhood is necessary
Sometimes assessing priorities will make it very apparent that some things need to be removed from your plate. Women, especially, will overburden themselves, cause their own burnout and drive themselves to the brink of exhaustion, all because we think we have to do everything all the time. This is not the case. Different seasons, call for different priorities. The flip side to knowing what needs to happen during this season of life is what really doesn’t need to happen. What are the things that you can let go of or pause during time? If it’s not needed, do not stress yourself out about it.
Removing things from your plate is a relief in some cases. Once you make the decision to remove the item from the priority list, you can instantly feel the sweet relief. However, frustration can settle in when there are things that you really want to keep on your plate or continue doing, but you know it’s not a priority and just isn’t realistic right now. While it may be frustrating to put a dream on hold, or pause that passion project, etc., you have to look at the positives. God’s timing is perfect. If you feel called in an area, but the timing just doesn’t seem right (a.k.a. you just can’t do it all right now), then trust that and be okay with shelving that for this season. When the time is right, it will be that much more fruitful!
Life is a series of seasons
Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 helps us understand that a life is a culmination of seasons and each season has a purpose. With each season comes new terrain to negotiate. There are new challenges, time constraints, demands, and new skills to be learned. When you understand life is made of different and separate seasons, you can also understand that each season requires a different version of you. This mindset allows you to maximize each season to its fullest potential.
Motherhood in itself has many seasons. Each season allows you to reconfigure your energy, priorities, and bite-sized opportunities to get back to those dreams you’ve been missing. We’re all in different situations and our motherhood journeys look different. Some may have a helpful spouse, un-helpful spouse, no spouse, family support, no family support, etc. The combinations are endless. There is not a one-size-fits-all approach. Therefore, this approach allows you the opportunity to assess your particular situation in order to create a path that works best for you and your family.
What to do when your dreams are on hold
What happens when you are in a season of life where you know putting your dreams on hold for motherhood is needed? First, reassure yourself that your dream is on hold, not disregarded. These two are very different and it’s important distinguish the difference. Next, make peace with this decision. Do not spend the rest of this season bitter, resentful or saddened. Instead, be confident that you will learn things, even in this season, that will lend itself to your dream later on. Lastly, roll up your sleeves and get ready to be the best version of you during this season. Get excited about what God has for you during this time. Those priorities that you laid out for this season, it’s time to hone in give God everything that you have towards those priorities during this season.
As God’s good word so beautifully puts it, “For everything there is a season”. The reality is, we have been given this short time to pour into our children and that should be our priority. Of course, there are things outside of parenting that need to be done, but this is where prioritizing realistically yields that best result. Everything is temporary, including this season.
Folding your dream back into the mix
As your season changes and your priorities adjust, you might start finding a few spare moments throughout the day. Maybe the baby is sleeping through the night and you’re not as sleep deprived. Maybe you’ve changed jobs and have a better balance. Or maybe you’ve outsourced some of your daily/weekly tasks and you have a little more free-time. Whatever has taken place that leaves you feeling like you could start refocusing on your dream, take a moment to pause and asses before jumping back in. As difficult as this is, sometimes a step back can help you realize how much that little bit of breathing room is needed and should be preserved versus filling it back up.
What I have found, is that instead of jumping back into pursuing your dream, take the remainder of this season to just start thinking about your dream. For example, the break from riding, training and showing horses gave me the opportunity to reassess what I really want out that dream. What was I striving for? What were all of the hours and dollars being spent really accomplishing? This was a huge opportunity for me to look at the current horses that I had – did I really need each of these horses, was there one that would better help me reach my goal?
All of these things I had never considered before because I was full steam ahead all of the time. Pausing my dream was actually a huge blessing! It allowed my mindset to evolve and allowed space for God to continue teaching me things that I didn’t even know I needed!
Addressing the fear of getting back to your dream
Mothers get into this terrible mindset that the role of mother, wife, etc. is all they can be. Unfortunately, this can be the result of not knowing how to ‘pause’ your dream and instead completely giving up on them. Then, when someone asks you why you didn’t pursue this or that, you speak out of fear: time, inadequacy, previous failure, comparison, too hard now, etc. By incorporating these new learnings, you will be able to confidently and peacefully pause your dream and pick back up where and when needed.
As always, mothers especially have to be extra cautious of their capacity as well as protective of their energy. Our ability to maintain a healthy mindset is vital to our family. Therefore, when you find yourself within a season when you are able to start prioritizing your dream, remember to focus on bite-size pieces and to re-evaluate your capacity, energy and demands during each new season of life. Lastly, never lose sight of what is most important our faith and our families! May your revived mindset be a blessing for your family and for the next wave of wives – showing them that you can pause your dreams for motherhood in a peaceful and confident way!