finding fulfillment during the mommy years

The more time I spend wandering from blog to blog, the more I seem to sense a theme: motherhood in and of itself is not always fulfilling.  While some moms profess to love each diaper change and every second of repetitive toddler play, there are plenty seeking affirmation that they are still human, something more than just a walking burp cloth.  Time and again, I have run across posts that say something like, “I love my kids and wouldn’t trade them for the world, but I need something more.”

As this search for fulfillment has been a large part of my mommy career, I find it reassuring to discover so many who share my struggle.  As a part of my meaning-seeking process, I’ve made a list of ways to find fulfillment as a mommy.  Perhaps you’ll find them helpful:

  • Write about it.  Obviously, plenty of folks have already gone this route.  I somehow find it very satisfying to write about my mommy adventures and agonies, as if writing gives them meaning.
  • Talk about it.  Have you noticed that being a parent automatically gives you a topic of conversation to rely on for nearly all social interactions?  Sometimes this chat really helps to affirm what you’re doing, reassuring you that others are in the trenches too and showing you that each phase will eventually pass.
  • Treat it as a job.  When you work outside the home, you have definite goals, projects to check off your list, deadlines to meet.  All of this (while sometimes frustrating) leads to a sense of satisfaction.  I’ve determined that it’s helpful for me to recreate some of this in my job as Mommy.  As stated in my Purposeful Parenting post, I’m not quizzing my kids on flashcards or making them raise their hand before speaking; I’m just trying to be deliberate in providing a range of enriching experiences and exposing my kids to information I think they’ll find interesting or useful.  I’m currently in the process of compiling a project I call MommyDotEdu: Laid-Back Learning for Mommies Who Need Goals; this project provides a list of topics that I plan to weave into our play and interaction each week.  (I loved the planning portion of teaching, so I can’t help myself!)  I’ll share some of it as I begin it at the end of summer.  In addition, I break my housework into daily tasks to check off.
  • Find a hobby.  In a sense, I’ve done this with my MommyDotEdu project.  Pick something that interests you—related to motherhood or not—and dive in.  Most of my hobbies have begun to revolve around parenting.  I sew things for my kids, I journal about the things they say and do, and I read books about effective parenting (as well as myriad other topics).  A hobby can help you fill your naptimes and evenings with something that makes you feel good.
  • Join a club or choose a cause.  Give yourself something else to focus on, something bigger than the pile of laundry you’ve got to do today.  Volunteer at a local soup kitchen, raise awareness of a disease that has touched your family, campaign for a politician who excites you, organize a school supply drive, or choose something else that you’re passionate about.  I joined the local MOMS Club, which provides social opportunities and does fundraising for area mother/child causes.  Since childcare gets in the way of my volunteering, I help with set-up for church events when nursery is provided or shop for bargains to donate to school supply, toy, and other “good” drives, which I can do with my children (though it’s not easy explaining that the toys we’re buying aren’t going to stay at our house!).

How do YOU find fulfillment as a mom?