A Birthday Girl’s Reflections of Life Lessons on Motherhood, People, and Health
If someone were to hand me a list of outrageous events that could take place during my 32nd birthday year, I’d scoff if sheltering in place during a worldwide pandemic were one of them.
Well here I am, living in the wake of hundreds of thousands of deaths and questioning my own (and my loved ones’) mortality, but also feeling eternally grateful for having a home to shelter in, a family to shelter with and the memories we are making together these days. With life’s distractions at a minimum, I’m using this time to reflect on the life lessons the past 32 years have taught me.
Life Lessons from Motherhood
Self-care is not selfish.
Taking care of yourself and putting your needs first on a regular basis is actually the greatest gift you can give to yourself and others. There have been many, many moments of overwhelm and burnout over the years. I finally began emerging from postpartum depression once I pursued my interests and made caring for myself a priority.
Resisting change makes things harder.
How ironic is it that change is the only constant in life? Embrace the change and accept your circumstances. Yes, it will be uncomfortable for a while. Yes, you’ll adapt. No, this won’t last forever. It takes up way more energy to resist change than to accept it. There’s a freedom and peace that comes with acknowledging and simply being OK with the discomfort of your new norm.
Don’t have four kids in under five years.
Seriously. Don’t rush to “get done having kids”. Give your body time to heal. I don’t remember what good sleep feels like. And I certainly feel decades older than 32! *Insert zombie emoji here*
Ask for help.
Why did it take me so long to learn this one? What was I trying to prove? And was it worth the stress?
OK fine, if you won’t ask for help, then at least accept it.
Swallow that pride, mama! We weren’t meant to do it all on our own. There are people out there who genuinely want to help. Who knows, it could be a prayer answered in disguise!
You can have it all, just not all at once.
When your daydreams and ambitions get the best of you and you start to feel limited by your circumstances, remember this one.
Don’t be so hard on yourself.
There will always be something we feel we aren’t doing or accomplishing. We’re all figuring it out as we go and doing the best we can to raise wholesome children, while attempting to maintain a shred of sanity. We deserve the love and support we give so freely to everyone else so let’s start focusing on all the things we ARE doing and accomplishing, no matter how insignificant it seems.
It’s OK to defer some goals while you raise kids.
We make all these plans and life has an unapologetic way of changing things up on us in the form of tiny humans. We have to stay fluid and open to reassessing and reprioritizing our goals. Whatever you do, don’t get down on yourself for not accomplishing a goal when you thought you would.
When you’re fed up with your kids, look at their baby pictures.
The heart melt that will ensue will override the frustration of (almost) ANYTHING they’ve done. Try it!
Life Lessons from Health
Stress and anxiety can mimic many health conditions.
If you’re experiencing symptoms that are out of the norm (i.e. digestive issues, insomnia or racing heartbeat) try checking your stress levels or investigate what you’ve been anxious about lately. Of course it goes without saying to check with your doctor, but it could be that you’re under stress and it’s manifesting in out-of-the-ordinary ways. Your body may just be trying to get your attention and begging you to make a positive change!
Google your symptoms, but remember it’s unlikely the worst-case scenario.
Note to self: Sometimes pink urine is a result of consuming a large beet salad for lunch the previous day and not, you know, that your kidneys are failing.
I once ate a hearty beet salad for lunch and, to my horror, noticed dark pink urine the next morning. I immediately Googled ‘dark pink urine’ and proceeded to convince myself that I had what Dr. Google suggested was ‘hematuria’, or blood in urine. I rushed to Urgent Care, took a urine sample (which, surprise surprise, turned out negative), and face-palmed when I was asked if I’d consumed beets the day before. An honest oversight, but one that sent me into a panic attack!
No matter how you felt in your 20s, you’re not invincible.
Don’t take health for granted. Those late-night escapades and happy hour rendezvous catch-up with you eventually. To that I say, “Take care before you have to repair!”
Movement is the ultimate mood-changer.
It’s my go-to remedy for restlessness. Our bodies love and crave movement and when we stagnate for too long our mental health (and physical health) suffers.
Lasting change always happens slowly. Be patient with yourself and the process.
I have to remind myself almost daily of this one. More often than not when trying to establish a healthy habit or lifestyle modification, it’s three steps forward and two steps back, but eventually we get there. It’s a messy process, but nothing beats the feeling of reaping the benefits of your perseverance!
This too shall pass.
It always does. When in doubt, it helps to reflect on all the past phases, obstacles, or health challenges you are no longer dealing with. You’ll see how far you’ve come. Sometimes that’s just the encouragement you need to keep moving forward.
Life Lessons from People
Marry the person who makes you laugh until you can’t breathe.
And then keep laughing when they repeat the same joke for 12+ years. Trust me on this one.
Unkind people are either miserable, scared or hurting in some way.
It’s harder to remember this in the moment, but everyone’s fighting an inner battle we don’t know about. Try not to take it personally. Send a prayer their way if you feel it getting to you and then keep your distance.
You have a purpose, you matter.
There is only one “you”. You have unique gifts to contribute to this world. You were not created by accident. Spend time uncovering your purpose and then make it the anchor for all that you do.
Your trauma doesn’t define you.
Whether big or small, you’re not defined by what has happened to you, but rather who you decide to become in spite of your experiences.
Some people aren’t meant to stay in your life forever.
This one’s among the more painful life lessons. I’ve come to believe that certain people are placed in our lives for a season or two to teach us something about ourselves or to help us navigate life at the time. It took an ocean’s worth of tears and heartbreak to learn this lesson, but looking back, I see the wisdom behind every single relationship that has come to pass.
Take responsibility for your actions, not other people’s reactions.
Your growth will make some people uneasy, especially when you begin reclaiming your worth and setting boundaries. You’re only responsible for what you put out in the world – your words, actions, and behaviors. How people respond to your growth is not your fault.
Don’t confuse society’s expectations with your own.
Sit with this one for a bit. Are you being who you really want to be and doing what you really want to do? Or are you living your life based on society’s standards of who you should be and what you should do?
We are so much more capable than we give ourselves credit for.
Removing the statement “I can’t” from my vocabulary (slip-ups still happen occasionally) and replacing it with positive statements like “I’d like to learn,” or “How can I?” has shifted my perspective and helped me to become the author of my own story, so to speak.
Your sensitivity is a gift.
I spent too many years of my life wishing to be someone who didn’t feel things so deeply. If you’re an empath, you’ll wonder why your heart feels like it’s in knots all the time. Empaths – there is NOTHING wrong with you! We feel things deeply and it’s our superpower!
General Life Lessons
It’s a bad day, not a bad life.
Bad days, weeks, years. They’ll happen. Negative thoughts are part of life, but just because they exist doesn’t mean you have to give them energy. It’s all about perspective. The more you look for the positive, the more you’ll see it.
There’s always so much to be thankful for.
Our lives are rich with blessings. It’s hard to see when we’re in a difficult season of life, but habitually listing three to five things to be grateful for on a daily basis helps all those blessings come into focus.
Pray with full certainty that God will answer your prayers.
Praying with conviction places an indescribable comfort in your heart. I’ve learned to have faith in His timing because His timing is perfect.
Never stop learning.
Stay curious about everything! We’re born with an insatiable desire to understand the world around us and somewhere along the way we lose this awe of learning. No matter what you think you know there’s ALWAYS more to learn. It’s incredibly humbling.
Done is better than perfect.
Recovering perfectionist over here! I’ll admit I still struggle with this, but not as much as I have in the past. Fear is probably the underlying cause of this, so have the courage to do things imperfectly. If you’re so caught up with doing things so perfectly you never finish ’em–what’s the point anyways?
Shortcuts get you nowhere, fast.
I’ve been too impatient to understand the wisdom behind this until recently. I now know that there are some things you simply cannot rush. Like postpartum weight loss, for example. The process of “doing the work” is part of the journey.
Make a decision, and stick with it. Even if its the “wrong” one.
Indecisiveness can be paralyzing and gets you nowhere. When you feel stuck, just make a decision and if it ends up being the wrong one, at least you’ll have gained some life experience along the way.
Don’t do something based on whether or not you feel like it, do it because it’s the right thing to do.
Sometimes the right thing to do and the easy thing to do are not one and the same. It takes practice and courage, but it builds your character in the process. Soon it will become second nature.
Life lessons are proof we are evolving. Every encounter, crazy birth story, illness, challenging relationship, and setback is meant to shape us into a better version of ourselves. Reflecting on our experiences helps show us how far we’ve journeyed and will hopefully motivate us to continue being open to all of life’s teachable moments.
WANT TO READ MORE?
Love to Travel? Check out Lessons Learned From A Year Around The Globe.
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