0:00:02 – Speaker 1
Welcome to the nextTalk podcast, where we share real stories and practical advice for parenting the digital world.
0:00:09 – Speaker 2
We’re your hosts, Mandy and Kim. Mandy is an award-winning author and the founder of nextTalk, and I’m the director of nextTalk, a nonprofit organization created to strengthen families through open communication. You can check out all of our resources at nextTalk.org.
0:00:24 – Speaker 1
We’re your wives, moms and friends, tackling culturally relevant topics from a Christian perspective. We’re sharing what we’ve learned and where we’ve failed. We’re so glad you’re here for this conversation.
0:00:37 – Speaker 2
So some years ago I was, you know, just making small talk with some of my husband’s co-workers and this older lady. She was asking me about the kids I think my oldest was only like four at the time, which would mean I’d had a two-year-old and I was pregnant, probably Something like that. And she’s like so what do you like to do in your free time? And I literally remember thinking like what is that?
0:01:01 – Speaker 1
What are you talking about, woman?
0:01:04 – Speaker 2
I honestly I probably just stared at her and then she was like well, you know like what are your hobbies? And then it just got worse, like I was like changing diapers.
0:01:16 – Speaker 1
I don’t know. You know you’re in a situation when your self-care is like I got to unload the dishwasher today. I got to shave both legs in the shower today, oh my gosh.
0:01:27 – Speaker 2
So care for me. I remember to buy a razor at that. I mean, just it was one of those moments. But then she did like that mom, look, you know, where they kind of lean in and get close to your face. And she said don’t lose yourself, kim. And honestly that has stuck with me because I think it’s a very normal part of parenting and being a mom. You know, as you’re going through these seasons, there are going to be times when you do kind of lose yourself, but it’s because it’s just a moment where you have to give, give, give so much when, especially when you have little ones. But I think the problem is sometimes we don’t come out of that, we get stuck and we really do lose who we were before mom, before wife, and we kind of lose our way.
0:02:10 – Speaker 1
Motherhood is sacrificial, for sure, you know, there are moments where you got to put your kids first, no doubt about it. And I think I grew up hearing this phrase that kept resonating in my mind all the time, which was family is your first ministry. And I agree with that phrase, like I think it’s true. But I here’s the thing. I think that we like anything, we’ve taken it to the extreme, and so, even when we do feel passionate about something or we’re called to volunteer in a certain area, we won’t do it because we’re like you know what? Family is my first ministry and I can’t do that. And little by little, I do think we lose ourselves a bit, because sometimes God calls us to things. Sometimes God says I see you in the middle of all your business and in all your family stuff that you’re doing, but I am calling you to this because this is your purpose, and if we miss that, we lose ourselves, and then I think we can become resentful because we feel it.
0:03:06 – Speaker 2
We start to feel like who am I anymore? Like I know parts of me, but you feel lost. You feel like you have nothing left to pour into or to focus on, or to give a gift that God’s given you, and then we start to wonder, like what’s my purpose?
0:03:24 – Speaker 1
Well, and you know the purpose. When somebody asked me my purpose yeah, you know, one of my goals is to raise two healthy children, you know that, are successful in the world, who love Jesus and do all the things right. That’s one of my goals. But I have to be careful about that because if that becomes my entire identity, I’m a hypocrite. I tell my kids all the time, right, I tell them all the time your identity is found in nothing else other than the fact that you’re a child of God.
But me, I get to wrap up my identity in my kids Like that’s not fair, it’s a, it’s hypocritical, but we do that. We pick up motherhood as an identity and then when our kids mess up or struggle or go a go a different route than what we had dreamed or planned for them, we’re devastated. We it’s like well, I gave up everything to raise you and you didn’t turn out the way I. I don’t think that’s what God intended, because we are a child of God. No matter what our kids choose, no matter what happens when they grow up and leave our home, nobody can take our identity of God away from us.
0:04:25 – Speaker 2
Well, that really leads into kind of what I was saying before. In having conversations as my kids get older, you know you spend a lot of time on school campuses and you’re talking to people or just you know out and about. And it really comes back to what you’re saying, mandy. I’ve experienced it, I’ve seen it in others. Where you start to see these little red flags and one of them I want to point out that I think is a big one is when you find yourself getting wrapped up in the minutiae of your kids’ drama where it becomes your whole world. You are in every single little detail. You get so angry or so sad or depressed when something’s going on within their friend group. We have to be clear here. I mean, we do want you to be having all the conversations with your kids. Of course we want you to pour into that. We want you to be their safe place to hear their stories and help them carry all of that. But that’s different. Helping them carry it is different than being tangled up in it.
0:05:20 – Speaker 1
Well, in a red flag for you, and this happened to me years ago. Every night when we would you know, we would tuck our kids in when they were little and we would pray and then we would go to bed and I remember crawling in bed and every night I would replay what was going on with my kid’s friend drama and this person in and this. And I remember I remember Matt one time saying to me like I think you need a hobby, like, like he was, like honey. It’s one thing to be involved and yes, we need to know the temperature of the friend group and we need to know everything is going on, but the amount of hour long conversation that we’re having over this one thing that this kid said, that’s a whole new level of crazy.
0:05:57 – Speaker 2
Yes, yes, it’s a well, and if we get too deep in there we can’t be objective Like we need to be able to step out of it so we can listen, we can be a soft place to land for our kid, but then we can say, hey, have you thought about it this way? Because ultimately, we want to be a sounding board and we want to be a place for them to talk through, but then they need to make their own decision. That’s where we want to lead them, and if we’re too into it, sometimes we’re like Okay, this is what you should do, or, and it doesn’t give them the opportunity to figure out how to make good decisions on their own.
0:06:33 – Speaker 1
Okay, and so I know we said a red flag is like being in their friend drama, and absolutely yes. But I think another red flag, too, is trying to vicariously live through our kids. So, for an example, like you were cut from the cheerleading team but by gosh, your kid is gonna be cheer captain, no matter what. You’ve got him in tumbling, you’ve got him in life coach, you’ve got him in everything, because this is your goal and your kid is miserable. Again, we’ve lost ourselves. We need our own hobby, we need our own passion. We cannot project our purpose onto our kids. We just cannot do that.
0:07:10 – Speaker 2
I think part of that, like looking in the mirror, helps with that, because I knew I was passionate about dance and when I found out I was having a daughter, I literally thought, okay, by two we’re gonna be in ballet, two and a half we’re adding that, like I knew I would be dance mom. So I had to be real aware of that and even say it to Charles. I was like Do not let me turn into dance mom, like if she loves it, fine. And so again, I you know I had to go and get my groovon myself so that I could be a dancer, so that I wouldn’t put that on my kid because it’s so easy to do. Our passions cannot be pushed on our kids.
0:07:46 – Speaker 1
Well and I love that you said that you went to your husband and said hold me accountable on this, because I think this is another red flag when anybody very close to you, like your spouse or your best friend, is saying to you hey, I think you’re losing yourself, I think you’re getting too caught up in this. They know you better than anyone. So you need to take heart, you need to listen, you need to have accountability in this, because it’s true motherhood you know, I can’t say it enough it does require a lot of us and we need to be careful when we’ve crossed a line. That is crazy. And you know who better to hold us accountable than our very close inner circle friends?
0:08:24 – Speaker 2
One thing that I noticed happened to me was kind of this domino effect. So there’s motherhood and being a wife and all of the energy and time and thoughtfulness that that takes, and wanting to be the best at that, because I’m very competitive, and then I stopped putting my own needs and wants first At all. Now, yes, other people need to come first sometimes, but if you are constantly putting yourself in the back of the line, over time you are exhausted. Your cup is empty, your guard is down physically and mentally, and then it’s easy to lose yourself because you don’t even remember what you’re fighting for anymore. You’re just going through the motions of life.
This is what I do. I do the laundry, I cook the meal, I do whatever, and you forget who you are, and so I think that can happen gradually over time too. We have to take time to step away, to remember who we are, what our passions are, what God put in our heart and how we can allow him to let us use that. You know, whether it’s in a job or volunteering or whatever it might be. If we’re so exhausted and we’re not allowing ourselves that time to just be, then absolutely we’re going to lose ourselves.
0:09:36 – Speaker 1
Okay, so that was a great point, but I had a question that popped into my mind as you were saying it and I have to ask it, kim. Oh no, when your kids were babies like I didn’t know you, and you said I was super competitive and I had to be perfect at everything, I literally pictured you making your homemade baby food because it just wasn’t good enough. The jarred stuff just wasn’t good enough for your kids. Were you one of those moms?
0:09:57 – Speaker 2
Oh legit, I made my own baby food. Oh my God, I just put your clothes and I’m just kidding, I did not sew their clothes. No, I well, I had a daycare. I was like you know what? No, you did not. Yes, I did, yes, I did no. I never knew this about you. I was like I’m going to teach my own kids and hey, y’all want to bring your kids, you bring them too. So I had other teachers would bring their kids and I did a whole program. I taught them all how to read, I did everything. I even did report cards and I sent home little notes every day. Oh man, we did field trips.
0:10:31 – Speaker 1
Yeah, okay. So let me just tell you why you’re doing all that over there for your little babies. I was laid up with prenatal depression, not even be able to get out of bed, pulling out frozen chicken nuggets every night for my family to eat and literally crying every night because I was like I am never going to survive the baby years. I’m never going to survive it. It is not for me. So this is hysterical, that we’re having this conversation on the air and we’ve never really talked about this before.
0:11:00 – Speaker 2
Competition drives all areas of my life, Mandy.
0:11:03 – Speaker 1
Here’s the thing. So you lost yourself because you were trying to be perfect and then you didn’t have time for you. Exactly, I lost myself because I was literally depressed and the baby years were just not my season. I did not thrive in that season at all, and so I literally just could not get out of bed. There were years that I was on antidepressants and seeing two counselors and trying just to survive. So I think this is a great example, because there’s different ways you can lose yourself. It can be brought on by you. It could be a medical condition, it could be lots of different things. It could be trauma that you experienced that you’ve never healed from. So you can lose yourself from lots of different ways and lots of different reasons why.
0:11:47 – Speaker 2
And that goes back to that point of the people that know you best. It’s important to let them speak into that. Like I can see, you’re really struggling, or maybe it’s time to see a professional, or hey, you don’t have to run your own daycare, like you don’t have to be in charge of everything for your child. It’s a balance and, like you said, mandy, it can all look very differently and that’s why it’s so important to have time to really look in the mirror and think, okay, am I doing okay here? Do I have an understanding of who I am in this season of life?
0:12:17 – Speaker 1
One of the things my husband says to me is you know, I am very opinionated about things and passionate about certain things. So when he asked me a question and I’m just like he says to me, if you’re not like fighting with me or like giving me your opinion or saying, but you don’t understand, the research says this, this and this, he said, if I don’t see that spark in you, I know something’s off. Like I know something’s off and so he will tell me, even when I bring up a nextTalk issue like I try to poke you to see what you’re going to say about it and you’re just like, yeah, yeah, suicide didn’t all time high, and then that’s it. Like I don’t go into how we fix it or anything. He’s like I know it’s a red flag, but something’s off with you that you’re losing yourself.
0:12:59 – Speaker 2
Got to listen to the people that know us best. So I think the point here is losing ourselves is something that can happen in different stages of life. It can happen for different reasons, it can look differently and we have to remember God wants to use us in every season. He has a plan and a purpose for us in every season and being in tune in your relationship with Jesus helps to drive that. Like God, what do you want from me in this season? What does that look like?
0:13:26 – Speaker 1
Well, and he’ll make a way. I mean, I remember when God called me to write a book and nextTalk, and all the things I kept saying but Lord, the family is my first ministry. Like I don’t think I can juggle all this and little by little he showed me how to do it and how to have a balance and making sure that I don’t throw my family under the bus for work or my passion, but maintaining that healthy balance, and I think that’s really important. One of the things I want to say about work and finding your purpose, whatever it is, whether it be your career or your volunteer job or whatever. I think you have to be careful because you don’t want work or your volunteer job at that purpose to become your identity either, and I think that’s really important.
A lot of times I will say I know that I’m off balance if nextTalk becomes my all, and what I mean by that is one of the things that I say to myself, and this is from the beginning. When I go to bed at night, laying there just me and Jesus, I always remind myself if all of my passion goes away tomorrow for nextTalk and everything that I feel like God has called me to do. I’m still Mandy and I’m still child of God and I’m still worth. You know my productivity in following my purpose doesn’t equal my worth. You know, I’m just Mandy and Jesus loves me for just Mandy. And I think sometimes we forget that. We forget that and then we think if our kids aren’t great, then what is my worth? That’s a lie. You are worth everything.
0:15:00 – Speaker 2
You are worth Jesus dying on the cross just because you are See the way you say it is so lovely and it’s just encouraging. And then me over here again how we’re different. I walk past the mirror and I said child of God, daughter of the king, but it’s the same thing, we just do it in a different way.
0:15:18 – Speaker 1
That is fine. I see your little body moving too. I sure do in that, because you don’t just sing it, you move it. It’s the dance stuff.
0:15:28 – Speaker 2
Yes, because that’s me, that’s who I am. So, regardless of how you remind yourself, you know you’re worthy, no matter what. Remind yourself of that. Take that time to do that and don’t stop dreaming. That’s one of the things, too, that I just have found really helpful for my husband and I over the years is sometimes we forget to think about all those things that were stored up, that were so fun to talk for hours on the phone when we were dating. Those dreams are still in there and it’s fun to talk through the things that have come true and the things that we still, all the adventures we still have coming up and that’s another way to stay in touch with yourself is dream, dream together and don’t stop thinking about those things that you’re passionate about. You know, I think none of us really, when you set out on this parenting journey, know how much it’s really going to take and how much it’s going to change you.
0:16:18 – Speaker 1
I don’t know if any of us would set out on the journey if we knew how much, seriously, there are moments where my husband and I are like are we done? Paying for braces, are we done? Paying for insurance, are we done? You know, you’re like, oh my gosh, it’s so much.
0:16:34 – Speaker 2
It is so much, but I think, when we find that we have spiraled into a place where we really are losing ourselves, and then we just begin to survive and that is not how God intended this life to be and that’s when you know it’s time to get help.
0:16:49 – Speaker 1
Well and help can look from your closest friends, your spouse, your best friend, but also medical help. You may have a chemical inbound. You may need medicine. This may be bigger than just you cutting down on kids’ activities and making more time for yourself. It may be bigger than that, and so do not hesitate, you need to keep looking for help until you know. Ok, I have a healthy balance here. I’m sacrificing as a mom. Yes, I’m doing the wife and mom thing, but I’m making time for me and I’m making sure that I’m mentally OK as well. This is important. We can’t give if we are not taking care of ourselves. Thank you so much for joining us, listening and sharing our podcast. Because of you, this show is in the top 5% of over 2.9 million podcasts.
0:17:40 – Speaker 2
We have lots of resources for you, from counseling to live events. Or if you have a show idea or a question for our team, visit our website at nextTalk.org. We’d love to hear from you.
0:17:51 – Speaker 1
At nextTalk. We’re more than cyber-parenting it’s conversations to connect. This podcast is not intended to replace the advice of a trained health care or legal professional, or to diagnose, treat or otherwise render expert advice regarding any type of medical, psychological or legal problem. Listeners are advised to consult a qualified expert for treatment.
Transcribed by https://podium.page