I’m currently feeling uninspired. I’ve written and deleted and rewritten ten different starts to an article in the past twelve hours, trying to find something meaningful to say.
Do you ever feel like that? Even though the world is spinning, and things are happening, it’s like I can’t say or think anything that’s original or inspiring. I’m lost in the sea of puzzle pieces scattered all over my floor, the dishes that pile in the sink day after day. I’m (not so) patiently waiting to go into labor with my third son. The weather is annoyingly unpredictable, the kids are going through developmental leaps of epic proportions, and finances are tough. In my free moments, I find myself browsing the internet, shopping for things I’ll never buy, trying to distract myself.
I’m ashamed that I’ve been wasting my time, instead of being vital and alive. But I’m also realizing that being uninspired isn’t uncommon or even something to lament. In fact, I think periods of “writer’s block” can be a great thing for us mothers.
Because our worth is not based on our productivity, and society tells us it is. It’s the age old stigma of, “What do you do all day?” that haunts us when we sit down and zone out on our phone while the kids are finally playing quietly together after a morning of tantrums. Are we doing enough? Are we valuable to this world? To our families?
As somebody who constantly strives for achievement and thrives off passionate conversation and efficiency, resting feels taboo to me. Being “just” a stay at home mom has been difficult for me. And what’s even more difficult for me is when I feel so uninspired that I can’t even write a blog post about motherhood. If you’re like me, you might constantly be tallying your successes against your failures, and you might feel like you have more failures than you’d like to admit.
If I can’t say anything else that’s inspiring or witty or relatable here, I’d like to say right now that your value as a person does not depend on the number of certificates or degrees you hold. It doesn’t depend on what’s in your bank account. It doesn’t depend on your children being well behaved. It doesn’t depend on your weight, age, or social status. Your value as a person does not depend on how many minutes you sat down today, or what you did with the minutes you did sit down.
My mom told me, “This work may seem small, but it’s the most important work you’ll ever do.” Taking care of children, errands, households. Doctors appointments, play dates, story time. Tantrums, housework, snacks (my gosh, all the snacks). Whether you work outside of the home or not, all of these things often fall on your shoulders as a mother. And all of it may seem meaningless or even inconsequential to your plans, bank accounts, or dreams for the future.
But this work is not small and inconsequential, and it can definitely wear us down and mush our brain a bit. Sometimes, I can’t even decide what I want to watch on Netflix when the kids take a nap, so I choose a show I’ve already watched a thousand times. Because the mental effort of choosing something new and paying attention to it seems like too much. Sometimes, all I can do is sit quietly in my boys’ room and smile and nod at them while they play, because I can’t be energetic or creative and playful. Sometimes, I’ll get out my journal and can’t write a word. Sometimes, I’ll pick a book off my bookshelf and take it to the bath with me, only to leave it untouched. And because of these things, I’ve often felt like I’m not doing enough…that I’m not enough. That I could be using my brain for so much more.
At the end of the day, my productivity does not measure my worth. No matter if I check off everything on my to do list today or not, my kids still run to me when they hurt themselves. They still depend on me to help them through hard emotions, prepare food for them, and change their diapers. They still squeeze my neck and kiss me, even if all I did today was make one phone call. My work–my important work–is to raise them to value themselves and others. I teach them this in the smallest moments, whether it’s about learning to respect people’s space at the grocery store, putting on pants, or paying attention to little brother’s emotions. I teach them the most crucial lessons about independence, empathy, consent, and respect. I show them what love looks and feels like by simply being their mother. What is more consequential and important than that?
So instead of lamenting this somewhat lengthy and uninspired blog post, I’m going to celebrate that I wrote something at all. I’m going to look at my children and try to see myself how they see me: an amazing mother. My challenge to you? Do the same.