Who am I?

I have been wrestling a lot lately with this very simple question: “Who am I?” 

For the past year and a half with newborn/baby triplets, I have been a survivor and just making it to the next day with healthy, happy babies. Staying sane was my goal and sometimes seemed like an unattainable goal. Now that Shepherd, Lucy, and Oliver are toddlers and especially now that they go to 3 half days of pre-school each week, I have time to really figure out my goals and identity beyond just survival. Do I want to be a teacher again? Do I want to solely focus on being a great stay at home mom? Do I want to be a writer? Do I want to run a marathon? Do I want to focus on ministry and missions? Who am I? 

Everyday recently I get asked 2 questions by friends, family, and strangers. I’m not talking once or twice… I have been asked these at least once a day for 5 weeks.

  1. Are you supermom taking care of triplets!?
  2. What are you doing with all of your free time now that the babies go to school?

For some reason, both of these questions make me feel super defensive. I have laid awake in the middle of the night several times over the last few weeks trying to come up with good answers to these questions. First of all, let’s clear the air, I am NOT a supermom. I am a very tired mom. I struggle with anxiety. I struggle with patience. I struggle with balance and often feel like a failure. All of us are just doing our best one day at a time. If you had triplets, you would figure it out one day at a time too. If you have one baby, and it’s crazy hard, it doesn’t mean that you couldn’t handle 3 babies, it would just be different. I do this whole motherhood of triplets thing with a WHOLE lot of help and a WHOLE lot of mistakes. But as soon as I can explain that I’m a mess and not a superhero, I get that 2nd question… “So, what are you doing with all of your free time now that the babies go to school?”

I’ve been on a journey since May to learn how to take care of myself and to find peace and presence in the chaos. Part of that journey was creating space and time in my life to practice self-care. I’m learning how to say no and how to be still. Those 12 hours each week with the kids at pre-school allow me to eat. They allow me to sit and think and breathe. They allow me to do laundry and go to the grocery store. They allow me space to deal with all the hiccups that come with having three toddlers like going to the doctor, cleaning up our dog peeing everywhere, or just organizing the house. They allow me time to not just survive. I feel so much guilt and so much shame in the fact that this time is free time. I can choose what I do with it, and I feel like I need to itemize every single minute of it to anyone that asks. I go into detail of how I tutor at night and that time allows me to prep for tutoring. It allows me to prep for dinner and to create an online class. I feel this deep need to make sure that people know I’m using my time wisely. I might need to go apologize to some strangers that were just trying to politely make small talk in asking me this question, and I instead went into this monologue about every detail of my Monday, Thursday, and Friday mornings. I feel like if I’ve been given this gift of time, but I have sadly attached strings to that time. Since I do not work a full time job, and since I pay money for my kids to go to pre-school, I better be able prove that I’m using my time wisely. Prove that it’s worth it. Prove that I’m worth it. 

So I am simultaneously trying to convince people that I am far from perfect, but using my time perfectly all at the same time. I’m emotionally exhausted. 

When you meet someone for the first time, one of the first questions they ask is “What do you do?” “Tell me about yourself.” My answer has always been, “I’m a teacher!” For the past year and a half, that answer has been, “I have triplets!” But now I have time to be more than just a mom of triplets. I have time to do things and find myself again. So back to the question…who am I? Who do I want to be?

My revelation is slowly coming from 2 places – first from my husband Derek (the birthplace of most of my revelations) and also from Lauren Daigle. 

First, Derek preached a sermon at our church a few weeks ago about the Holy Spirit and led everyone in an exercise of breath prayer. Click here to check it out.

At the end of the exercise you are standing with Jesus and he is looking you in the eyes and calmly and gently asks, What can I do for you? And I immediately wanted to yell – WHO AM I? Who am I, Jesus? What am I supposed to do with my life? I knew the answer was that I am His. I knew that. But even then I didn’t feel like it was enough. I didn’t feel like I was enough. I felt like well sure, of course I’m yours, but I still need to earn your love and Derek’s love and my kids’ love and my friends’ and parents’ love. I know I’m yours, but what do I need to DO?? Who am I was so intimately tied to what I do. It has always been tied to my grades, my thoughtfulness, my church attendance, my athletic ability, my relationship status, the size of my ministry, the way I care for others…

Then, a couple weeks Lauren Daigle released a new album called “Look Up Child.” The entire album has been on repeat at my house but one song in particular has been really speaking truth over me. In it, she asks the same question: “Remind me who I am!?” And the answer has nothing to do with WHAT she does but WHOSE she is. “You say I am loved…You say I am strong…You say I am held…You say that I am Yours.” That has to be enough. And all I need to do is believe.

Believe that I am loved. Believe that I don’t have to earn love. Believe that my goals and my identity and the answer to the question about my “free” time and all of the million things that need to get done everyday…they aren’t what makes me, ME. I still need to dream big dreams and create and aspire to do and listen to what God calls me, BUT that has nothing to do with who I am. I was so convinced that those things were all tied together. If all I get done in the 4 hours that the kids are at school is to refocus my brain and remind myself that I am loved, it was a successful morning. I don’t have to prove myself. I am enough.

Let me just leave these song lyrics with you and the link to the youtube video:

I keep fighting voices in my mind that say I’m not enough

Every single lie that tells me I will never measure up

Am I more than just the sum of every high and every low?

Remind me once again just who I am, because I need to know (ooh oh)

You say I am loved when I can’t feel a thing

You say I am strong when I think I am weak

You say I am held when I am falling short

When I don’t belong, oh You say that I am Yours

And I believe (I), oh I believe (I)

What You say of me (I)

I believe

The only thing that matters now is everything You think of me

In You I find my worth, in You I find my identity.

You are not the sum of what you DO. You are loved. You are strong. You are a child of the King. You are enough.

Approval Addiction Part 2

ennea app visualIf you haven’t already read “Approval Addiction part 1,” you might want to go check out my brief overview of the Enneagram and the background of this post. I wanted to split up my Enneagram Two thoughts into two posts because this set deals specifically with me as a “Two” mom. Like I said before, I have always struggled with pleasing others. I have high anxiety and fear and shame about disappointing others. It will always be something that I battle. It will always be something that I will daily hand over to God. That said, the shame of not being enough has been tripled lately with the addition of my 3 beautiful children.

The whole having kids thing, especially three at a time, means that all I want to do and think I can do is take care of them (and all of the other people in my life). Then, I have no time left to take care of myself. I feel so much pressure to take care of them and everyone else around me all at the same time, and I am exhausted from my inability to be everything for everyone all the time. The beautiful thing is that I do not need to be everything or even half of the things that I place on myself. Believing that I am enough is hard, but identifying the lies buried deep down and speaking truth over them, is the first step. Writing down my thoughts in this blog has helped give me freedom to believe them. I re-read these thoughts regularly. Usually my head is filled with others’ feelings and emotions so writing and re-reading this blog helps me remember truth and my true thoughts and feelings. 

Just like the last post, many of these thoughts may resonate with you even if you are not a Two on the Enneagram. Many mothers and females in the church feel anxiety over being a helper as they try to balance all that life calls them to be and do. We are being told by so many people and places exactly what our lives need to look like. We are told that our role is to support and be in the background and not lead. 

I hope that you also find truth and freedom as you read as well.

Please tread cautiously and graciously as you enter into my thoughts for the next few minutes. Recognize that this is difficult for me, and that I am just beginning to figure out how to break free from them. 

Thought #1: Before kids I had time to be an unhealthy Two, running around taking care of everyone, needing to be needed, creating this web of support where I was validated and lifted up for my helpfulness. Now with the kids, I just don’t have the time. So I’m running around trying to patch these holes that are just constantly dripping with water, and it’s impossible to help them all. I’m so afraid that one will burst open and it will be my fault. And in reality they are bursting. I will always love taking care of others, doing ministry, mentoring, and reaching out. There is a healthy way to take care of people. In order to get there, I have to realize that I am not the savior. I love being a Two. I love that I genuinely enjoy serving, mentoring, teaching, being a mom, and giving of myself. Those things bring me life and will always fill me with joy and purpose. I love that I am good at seeing a need and knowing what to do. I love that I am an encourager. I don’t want to ever lose that piece of me. However, I need to let go of the lie that everyone needs me in order to rebuild and regain life and purpose in knowing that Jesus is the one that speaks through me. I am nothing without Him. He should fight for me. I need to be still and quiet and let Him use me instead of me trying to use Him as my excuse to be loved and needed. My ministry will be even stronger when I realize that I am not the savior, Jesus is the savior. I am not that important. But in humility and with confidence I can have a ministry that involves vulnerability, empathy, and boundaries. 

Thought #2: I have 20 texts right now, and it is physically painful to not look at them and respond right now because someone might need me, and I wasn’t able to help them. But if I sit and respond right now, I take away time from my family. They suffer when I keep trying to plug all of the holes and take care of everyone around me. I have to push against the urge to be needed. Saying yes to others often means saying no to my family.

Thought #3: Derek said one small thing that I needed to do, and I lost it because I failed to anticipate that need before he voiced it. I already feel like I am drowning, and when Derek says something that even remotely sounds like disappointment, I lose it. I panic. I just can’t do it all. That pressure to be all things, doesn’t come from Derek though. It comes from myself. In fact, if I said “Derek, I can’t do that small thing right now.” He would say, “That’s totally fine! We can deal with it later.” Why do I put so much pressure on myself? 

Thought #4: I’m learning more and more recently that often the feelings that I have are not my own. It’s really hard for me to identify my feelings and how I feel when people are hurting around me. I feel their feelings so strongly that I think they are mine. And sometimes they are. When I’m around my kids, it’s even harder for me to identify my real feelings. They are always needy, so my feelings are often about them or for them. It’s really hard to express my personal needs because my brain is so full of their needs.

Thought #5: Derek regularly asks me a simple question (like where to put something or what do I want to eat) and my response is a panicked – “I don’t know!” I am a terrible multi-tasker. With 3 kids, I am constantly doing at least 4 things at a time and my brain is so full. Even the simplest question seems impossible, especially if it’s about myself or my needs or my feelings. I have found that calmly saying, “Can you write that question down?” or “Can you ask me again in a few minutes after I have finished the task at hand?” helps tremendously.

Thought #6: Shepherd bit another student at school. I cried and had a panic attack about him going back to school the next day. I want to please everyone and with kids it’s exhausting because I can’t control what they do. I now disappoint people through my kids. It’s a whole new level of balance and letting go. I want to be able to control how they act. I don’t want people to be disappointed in me because of what they do. I want them to be kind so badly, but I can’t force it. And I’m mad at myself for getting so anxious and stressed about it and feel like a burden in that too. I’m still working on the solution to this one. But identifying it is the first step. I have a feeling that I will circle back to this one in another post soon, so stay tuned and please pass along any wisdom that you have found helpful!

Thought #7: I don’t have trouble asking for help and receiving help when I ask. Because in that, I still have control. But when someone offers help that I haven’t asked for our just helps and sees a need that I didn’t see, it’s much harder and I feel guilty that maybe I missed their needs and can’t help them.

Thought #8: I can let people help if it in turn blesses them or helps someone else. And if I take care of myself, it must be to immediately bless someone else. The truth is that it’s ok to just take care of myself. It’s not selfish to do things simply because they bring me life. In fact, I’m much better at taking care of those that I love after taking care of myself. 

I have an inner voice constantly telling me that I am not enough, a failure, and unlovable. Telling this voice to shut up does not help. Speaking gently and confidently to it does. I legit tell it to step down, stop talking, and walk away. Then I speak truth into those areas. Brene Brown says it perfectly in Gifts of Imperfection: “No matter what gets done and how much is left undone. I am enough. It’s going to bed at night thinking, yes, I am imperfect and vulnerable and sometimes afraid, but that doesn’t change the truth that I am also brave and worthy of love and belonging.” (Page 125 if you are interested.)

I have been asked by several people for the Enneagram resources that I have used. Here are my favorites:

 

Book:

The Road Back to you

Podcasts:

Annie Downs with Beth McCord – Overview of the Enneagram

Jen Hatmaker with Ian Cron– Overview of the Enneagram

The Enneagram Journey by Suzanne Stabile – very detailed and every episode that I have listened to has been amazing

The Road Back to You – The authors of the book also have a podcast that is really helpful