I had the amazing opportunity to attend MomCon this last weekend in Indiana. This was my first time attending and I really didn’t know what to expect. I had heard from multiple people that it is an amazing conference and that I would love it.
(For those of you wondering “what is MomCon?” it is just what it sounds like…a Mom Conference! It is part of the Mothers Of Preschoolers [MOPS] organization.)
First, let me start by attempting to describe to you the scene at MomCon. There were approximately 2,800 women in one hotel conference center! Not only were there 2,800 women…there were 2,800 MOM’s, without their children!!
We flooded this hotel where there were other small business gatherings taking place. In these other gatherings, men were in attendance.
Ok, 2,800 women…guess what, We Took Over!
Men’s restrooms…Nope, they became an extension of the Women’s restrooms. (Sorry Guys, hold it or go to another floor.)
Every elevator in the morning, afternoon and evenings was full of Mom’s! Seriously, the most priceless looks ever came from Men, when the elevator door opened and they were confronted with 20 Mom’s! Not only Mom’s, but again…Mom’s without Children! This is a whole new class of Mom, because it is like we turn into giddy school girls again!
We are free; we can wear white and not worry about boogers or sticky fingers getting it dirty. We could talk about things that didn’t include construction trucks, Rescue Bots, princess’ or dolls! We didn’t have to worry about making dinner, cleaning up mess’ or bed times…Nope we were Mom’s on Break and there was no holding us back!
Now, of course there was some moments of crazy; but most importantly, there were many moments that were spoken straight to my heart.
At first, I was overwhelmed! There were women EVERYWHERE!
I tend to be more of an introvert, so being surrounded to max capacity, in close quarters with many other people…not my typical idea of fun.
After things settled down a bit and the conference began, I slowly began to notice so many different things. My mind was on overload. I tend to be a thinker, I see something small and it will lead my mind on a journey. It just happens, my mind runs away with things.
What I would call my biggest moment, was when I was sitting in a workshop about Spirituality. It was a workshop geared towards teaching us how to accept God’s mercy and his grace.
Folks, I was humbled!!!
Here I was, sitting in this class thinking that everyone’s life was similar to mine.
We have a husband, kids, a house to keep clean (or try to keep clean), moments of crazy and moments of pure bliss; this was just how things went. We were all the same.
I have never been more wrong, in my life!
I sat in a room that began with many women smiling and talking to one another; by the end of the class we were sitting in different parts of the room in prayer. Women were crying, hurting and pouring their hearts out to God and one another.
In our group: Some have recently had husbands who just up-and-left them and their children. No warning or conversation…just papers being served asking for a divorce. Husband’s leaving their wives, their children and their homes to be with another woman. In their words…Starting over.
Some women had suffered miscarriages and stillborn births. Some had kids with different disorders; some were experiencing personal health issues. Almost everyone in the room, had something in their life that was a source of hurt or struggle.
This doesn’t seem like it should be eye-opening, but to me…it really was!
These women were strong! When they first walked into the room, I would never have guessed a single one of them was going through what they were. Never! They were smiling and happy, talkative and laughing! As one lady said…they wear their mask well.
This last thought, they wear their mask well, is what broke my heart.
Here I was in a building surrounded by 2,800 other Mom’s; 2,800 other women and 2,800 other hearts. Each person had their own issues, their own problems. Yet, we were able to open ourselves up to each other…strangers, like we couldn’t to anyone else. Why? Because everyone around us had one strong bond between them…we were all Mom’s!
Moms are strong, they are warriors and they are tough. Mom’s also are individual people with a heart of their own. For some reason, Mom’s put on a mask when things are tough; they hide their inner feelings or deny themselves the right to feel.
Mom’s feel like in order to be successful, we have to be on top things; we have to make sure all of our boxes are checked and if at the end of the day, those around us are happy…then we were successful. In the midst of it all though, we can lose ourselves, our feelings, our importance and who we really are.
In one of the workshops, Gail Dudley – the facilitator, told us about a time she was asked to write a 12 page paper about herself. She asked us if we thought we would be able to do that. I thought to myself, of course…33 years of memories and experience, 12 pages is nothing.
Then she asked, what if I told you the paper could include no other names, no other people….just you?
This, made me pause and think.
When it comes down to it, especially we as Mom’s, tend to live our lives under a title: Mom, Wife, Friend, Employee, Sister, Daughter…and so on. It is very rare that we live under the title of “ME”.
I still catch myself thinking about this question, here days after the conference has ended. I pair it with the question presented to us “What energizes you, refreshes you and refuels you?” “What do I enjoy?” “What refills my soul, so that I can continue to pour out to others?”
What’s funny, is that these are relatively simple questions; yet, they are questions I can’t quickly answer. Why? Because it is true, my day is focused on what I need to do for my family, for my kids. Where they need to be and at what time. When I do get a moment of silence, I feel I have to be productive or else I am struck with guilt.
Why, as Mom’s, do we put this pressure on ourselves?
When I think about my boys and how much they LOVE to play; it stops me and makes me think “what about Mom’s?”. God says that we are his children and he wants us to live a life of Joy. God finds joy, in us finding joy! So why do we place ourselves last in line, for joy?
Yes, we get joy out of seeing our children laugh and play; we get joy out of our families being happy.
But what brings Joy to our heart and to our soul? Is it music, singing, crafting, baking, sewing, coffee with friends or something else.
What if we stopped feeling guilty about refueling our hearts with joy, so that we can pour more joy out to others?
What if we stepped back, and looked deep into ourselves and rediscovered who we are as an individual?
What if we stop and make time to play!
One thing I learned for sure this last weekend is that you cannot stereotype Mom’s! You cannot put “Mom’s” in a box and expect them all to be the same.
Because each Mom is different, each Mom is a person who is unique. We are all completing the huge mission of raising kiddos, but yet we downplay it to something basic and ordinary.
As a mom, you are FAR from basic and FAR from ordinary. You are raising a child who will someday be an adult! You are raising a part of the future! Your heart, your love, your wisdom, your spirit, your mere existence feeds and develops the kiddos you are raising. You are the world to them and to you, they are your world!
What if we re-evaluated motherhood and look at it through the eyes of God and the eyes of our children?
What if we took a moment to reintroduce ourselves…to ourselves?
What if we took our to-do-list and ripped it up for a day and instead decided just to play?!
Motherhood is tiring and hard but there was a quote that was said over and over throughout the weekend:
“It is time to let go of exhaustion as a status symbol and productivity as a measure of worth.”
Have you ever been asked “How have you been?” and you reply “oh, it has been so busy, but we are making it”.
I’m sure you have answered this way…we all have! Being busy, means you’re being productive and that is a measure of our worth…right?
Wrong, what if our answer was “Oh, I could have finished some things, but we decided to have a family game night instead”; or “Well, I was knee-deep in laundry…looked outside and saw it had rained, we decided to go play in some muddy puddles (Peppa Pig).”
Yes, there are things that have to get done.
I have heard people say over and over, someday you will wish you spent more time playing and less time cleaning. Luckily, I am in a place where I can hear this advice and use it! My kids are little and I know the time will go fast, but someday I want to look back and know that we played and that joy was the focus of my heart. Not a checklist or to-do chart.
It is a hard thing to do, to break the cycle and put down the pen (used to mark off the boxes). In the end though, you will be happy you did! Life is meant to be joyful and just like children…we are meant to play!
Look into yourself and find what gives you joy…take that and run with it! The list can wait…there is fun to be had and memories to be made!