Welcome, Welcome to those of you who have made your way here via the Happily Family Conference!

When I was young I dreamed that one day I would be a mama! I would pick out names and imagine outfits for my future children while I mopped floors at my first job as the church janitor.

I LOVE kids! A lot! I always have. I’m fascinated by them too!

I had all of my 6 kids in a span of 9 years- and of course, it was delightful to welcome each of them into the world, to actually name them- in real life, my girlhood dreams come true!

It was also really challenging- really hard at times.

One of my babes died of SIDS when he was two months old. I gave birth to twins! My partner worked out of state for long stretches of time. There were full days, even weeks where the only other humans I interacted with were my kids.

At times being a mom has meant isolation and unending exhaustion while trying to stay with the constant need for snacks and meals, rides to practice, clean clothes, big feelings, sibling squabbles, individual attention to the kids, time outside the house…the list could go on for quite a while.

I knew I still wanted to be a mama, but why was it so challenging- this one thing I had wanted so deeply? I never imagined it would be so hard.

You probably have your version of this too- yeah? How you both long to be a parent and it’s also really difficult.

Parenting really does have a profound way of showing us these disowned traits and unresolved energies we’ve been talking about over the last few weeks here in the Purejoy blog.

Until I became a parent, especially these long hard days at home with two babes and a toddler and the two big kids as well- I had been able to organize my life in such a way that I could avoid those feelings and traits.

If you find yourself in a hard or challenging place- first, offer yourself some loving kindness.

You can put your hand on your heart right now- and close your eyes and speak kindly to yourself.

I see you, Mama! This is really difficult! You are trying so hard! You love your kiddo so much! And, it’s a LOT!

It can be really difficult to see something this hard as an opportunity, but in my experience, that was the truth. My suffering gave me a chance to know and love myself in a more true way. I still hated that it was hard! But I did learn to love myself amidst it.

In hindsight, I can see now the opportunity that was there for me right in the middle of the difficulty and chaos- as these parts of me awakened in response to my children’s needs, wants, and the innocence of their self-expression. I was able to check out my stories, really listen to the ways I treated myself on the inside, and make new choices about that.

If you were at the Happily Family conference you probably heard Leslie’s talk about setting personal boundaries as an internal job- that’s how we view it in Purejoy. The definition of a boundary is – what is ok and not ok with me, about how I treat myself.  It’s not about how others treat me. Take a minute to really think about this one.

With this view of boundaries, I had to consider that I cannot expect my child to give me something I am not first willing to give myself. It’s not about controlling, or limiting, or punishing my kiddos to get them to behave in a way that I have not learned to take care of myself- to treat myself kindly.

This is a radically different way to see boundary setting- so give yourself some time to wrap your mind and heart around it.

For me, it took quite some time to really get what this meant.

There were lots of factors that supported me to believe that the only way for me to finally feel good inside, about myself, was to get everything in my environment under control and working well. So I kept limiting and managing my kids so that I could feel good about myself. It always backfired because I was working in relation to my own discomfort.

The discomfort was inside of me. It was about what I thought was best for them, what the books told me we should do, what my family said was best for kids, and how we never seemed to be nailing that! I was worried that too much sugar would rot their teeth- the dentist said. I was nervous that screens would fry their brains- I had read an article online. I was scared that their hitting each other would ruin their sibling relationship forever. If I could just get them to clean up, if I could just get them to eat better, if I could just get them off the screens- the internal judgment would stop and I could get out of my discomfort.

What this new view of boundaries supported me to do is take stock of how I was talking to myself- about who I was, what kind of mom I was being, about all the ways I was messing this up. It was brutal. I would never talk to another person the way I discovered I was running on autopilot always inside my mind.

I slowed down, way down in my SafeSeat, and got curious about how I wanted to treat myself. In that moment, I could make the switch to loving rather than hating, towards myself, before I moved to the kiddos. It took practice and still, there are times I blow past this one precious moment where I can access my choice as an adult. To honor a boundary about how I treat myself.