Relationships are tough for anyone to navigate. In the short time I’ve been a mom, I’ve learned that there are different challenges to being a mom and navigating relationships than when I was solo. Basically, being a mother can be a challenge! It’s easy to put relationships on the back burner when you are focusing on your kids 24/7. But investing in other relationships is important and necessary.
Check out previous Real Moms Talk post: Motherhood and Relationships
I am really excited to have a guest post today on this topic by Rachel Gray from This Dreamer’s Realities. I absolutely love the perspective she gives on the types of relationships we should seek and cultivate as moms. I also appreciate her authenticity about the struggles she’s had in the area of relationships.
Hello fellow mommies!! Let me introduce myself! My name is Rachel and I am a single mom of 4 amazing, rambunctious kiddos! Three boys and a girl. They are my greatest joy and also my greatest source of utter exhaustion!
I am honored to have been asked to be a guest on a fellow blogger’s page! The topic I will be addressing is “Relationships.” I’m no expert, but I will definitely love sharing my experience and how I am learning to keep healthy relationships.
I was 19 when I had my first child. I got married to his father 2 weeks after he was born. I quit my job about 6 months after my son was born and I officially became a stay-at-home mom. By the time I was 24, I had all 4 of my kids. I was not the mommy that woke up early and beautified myself for the day, cleaned my home, and scheduled playdates. Nope, I was the mom always exhausted, in pajamas all day, hoping nobody would drop in because my home’s appearance was even more embarrassing than my own physical appearance!
I craved adult interaction, but only had it with my husband, at the time. And he was always at work. And when he wasn’t, it was always stressful at home, because I wasn’t the ideal homemaker. I share this because I want you to understand how the lack of relationships really causes us to self destruct. Healthy relationships are not only detrimental to our own health and sanity, but to our family’s. I am an example to my children of who they either want to be like, or do not want to be like. Not even necessarily “want”… but what will become their natural inclination to be. I will spare you all the dark stuff that I had put myself through and just share with you what I have positively learned. I want to speak LIFE! I want to encourage you to have healthy relationships and inspire you to act today! I do not want to scare you into it.
Relationships to seek and cultivate with people are as such:
All that I mention here are equally important, in my opinion. I will begin with mentioning the friend who will always speak life to you. Who will see and point out all you are doing right as a mom, a wife, a person in general. We do a great job pointing out our flaws all by ourselves. We do not need anyone else to come along side and reinforce the self-condemning thoughts we have. This is the person you can trust and pour out your heart to and KNOW you will leave encouraged every single time! You will discover that you are more easily able to offer that same support to others as you make time to cultivate that relationship. *Important note about this to keep in mind: This friend is to be of the same sex! Why is that so important? Because, as you spend time edifying one another and affirming one another, if there could be any ounce of attraction there, you’re treading dangerous waters. Do you realize how attractive people are who see the good in you? Listen, even if you both are in a position to be able to develop a dating/marriage relationship, STILL reserve this specific type of relationship with someone who will remain only a friend. Otherwise, who will you go to when things get rocky and you no longer trust that person with your heart? I have one of these friends and I know she’s a keeper for life! I trust her completely and she trusts me. We are both mom’s and crave our girl time! We can go months without talking and then pick up where we left off so easily!
Second, your family relationships need to be treasured. Unless you have come from an unhealthy family, they are the foundation of your support system. Do not fall into the temptation of isolating yourself from them. They don’t need to know all the dirt. In fact, it’s wise to not share all the dirt, especially with family. Why? Because, usually, your family will always have your back, even if your spouse or friend that you had a nasty argument with may be right in some cases. Your family will remember how hurt you were the moment you come up from your low. They aren’t part of the process, they are only seeing the highlights you have shown them. Make sense? But they will believe in you like nobody else! They will be that voice of reason when you need to make a difficult decision. They always want to see you succeed and celebrate every milestone with you! It’s up to you to allow them to. You may think that isolating yourself from them isn’t causing harm to them, but it is. Anytime you disappear from someone who loves you deeply and has poured their own life and time into you, it stings them and eventually may make them numb to you. So, keep your family circle tight and well nurtured!
I am so blessed to have a close relationship with my whole family now! For almost my entire 9 years of marriage I had rarely seen them or even spoken to them on the phone. The only time I really went to them was when something went horribly wrong in my marriage or when I had my children. I did not handle my relationships well. I was very selfish. I only reached out when I desperately needed something. I didn’t think for a moment that they needed me, too. Fortunately, I come from a God fearing family. Strong in faith. A praying people! I am confident that that is the only reason I am where I am today. I see and speak to my family regularly now. And, honestly, they are my favorite people to hang out with!
Next, seek out a wise, experienced mother also. Sometimes they don’t even have to be mothers to be able to offer a healthy perspective on parenting. If they have a relationship with the Lord, they likely can impart wisdom on dealing with different aspects of parenting. I have found this to be true. Of course, there are some things they cannot understand unless they have experienced it themselves. For instance, waking up 5 times in a night to deal with a sick child and still function in joy and peace the next day. How can they tell me to not be a monster the next day? They can’t, unless they have personally figured it out for themselves.
Another type of relationship that I feel is necessary to have as a mom is the adventurous one! I, myself am very spontaneous. I will wake up on a Saturday morning, kids fighting over everything imaginable, chores I don’t even want to acknowledge, and I’ll switch everything up in an instant! (Now) I will set a 45 min timer and tell the kids, ” Ok! We have 45 min to tackle our individual chores! When that timer goes off, and you have finished, we will go on an adventure!” It will usually be the beach or mountains, somewhere that’s at least 1 1/2 hr away. They immediately shift focus because they love these adventures! I usually throw in bonuses if they go above and beyond. Yes, it’s for them, but ultimately, I need it, too.
But, it’s important to have a friend you can do that with,too. Sometime when you get a break from the kids. YOU HAVE TO SCHEDULE TIME FOR YOUR FRIENDSHIPS. It’s about making them feel important also. This type of friendship should be mostly lighthearted. Not to be confused with shallow. Your time together is about the adventure!
Acquaintances are important to acknowledge and respect also. Remember, you are an acquaintance to someone also. These are the people who either help or destroy your reputation. Always put your best foot forward because that’s the impression you leave. Depth is not the focus in these types of relationships. Consistency is important. And be genuine always.
I need to start wrapping this up! I must say, as a believer, it is most important to have your faith be your commonality in the friendships you choose to pour into. Relationships are an expression of God’s heart. Let Him sift your relationships. Truly, knowing your heavenly Father makes all the difference in relationships. It’s important because you are allowing them to also influence your life and your thought processes. Hold yourself to a high standard. Learn your value in Christ. Set up boundaries in order to protect your heart and mind, your relationship with the Lord, and your friendships! Safety, trust, and honesty are important in the relationships you want to keep. If you can have a real argument with your friend and know that you would still never want to give them up as a friend, that is one to invest in! I have learned the hard way. But it is because I have come out of trials in relationships that I can now choose healthy ones.