As I went through two pregnancies, and then my physical illnesses keyed up, I struggled. With these new lower energies & two little humans to take care of, I worried my creativity, business, ministries, and hobbies would suffer.
After all, how does one do it all when their energy is so limited.
The short answer is: we don’t.
The long answer is much more complicated. Even if we are moms or even if we are now living with chronic illness, it is not God’s intention that we just suffer without fulfillment in Him. It is not His intention that we have no impact on the world and then we die.
At the very least, as moms, our influence is greater than we can ever understand.
Yet, even with illness or the energy zap that is motherhood (especially in those early years), our value is not diminished, we are still multi-faceted people, and we have the ability and right to be creative in our lives.
Sometimes, though, this requires that we change our ideas or the way we look at things. For example, maybe a hobby we enjoyed before isn’t possible, so we discover new hobbies. Or, maybe we can’t work the same job we did before, so we embrace a new way to make a living. Maybe our role in ministry becomes more hands off.
Even with motherhood or chronic illness changing some of our limits, there is so much creativity to be had in the world. As a matter of fact, we get to become even more creative as we figure out how to work with our new limits.
Once we discover our new limits, we can adjust our expectations. If we switch up our standards of “success” based on our new limits, we will find ourselves better able to give ourselves grace. And, when we can do that, we will begin to feel more successful, and often that will have a softening affect on our mental heath (which we all know can be affected by motherhood and chronic illness).
This is also where letting go of some hobbies and embracing new hobbies comes in. Due to my hand and back pain, I haven’t been able to paint in quite a while. My body simply doesn’t have the ability to sustain a painting session like I used to. However, I’ve learned Animal Crossing makes a great hobby. I can still write, which I do often, and reading is a classic. I’ve also embraced coloring again. I’ve found using colored pencils and doing small sessions, I still get the feeling of creating art without the intensity painting requires of me. For you, maybe you were a runner, and now maybe take up yoga. Perhaps you enjoyed visual arts, and moving those principles to the digital world helps keep up the creativity.
Sometimes, after we have an adjustment period, we are concerned about what we’re doing. The what if questions attack: What if I’m not good at it anymore. What if others don’t like how it is now? How do I do this now? What if it’s not like how it used to be?
When these questions kick up, it’s good for us to take a step back, and rediscover that thing for ourselves. Whether a job, or a ministry, or a creative hobby. Taking a step back to relearn it in our new role can make a huge difference. When we do it just for ourselves, and not for others, we get a chance to fall back in love with it. When I worry about my writing, or my other creative endeavors, I like to do them for myself. I like to journal, read my bible, create digital art. When we do these things just for ourselves, we remove the pressure of what others might think.
Another important key to getting back to a fulfilled life is trying not to wallow. While, some days, we need to wallow. We have a right & need to feel our feelings, sometimes, we get sucked in and stay there. For ourselves, and for our loved ones, allowing ourselves to feel the feels and then move forward means we will be more present for our lives as they are. We will be better able to enjoy the good days and muster grace for the not so good days. When we are struggling to wallow (or not wallow), it can be a great idea to engage with something outside of yourself. Play with or cuddle your kids. Do your hobby. Take a walk (or have a seat) outside in the sun. Visit the ocean or a lake. It’s much harder to wallow when we are engaging with things outside of ourselves.
A final note on being creative & embracing new hobbies in motherhood and chronic illness: the world around you need your unique touch, your unique story.
Whether it’s in a business or ministry, or it’s just a hobby. Whether your kids or a group of strangers on the internet. The world needs your way of viewing things, your experience, and your authenticity. Your kids are watching you. The world is watching you. Others are learning from you and how you’ve handled the changes and curve balls.
When we just hold back because things are different now, the world misses out on our touch, our way of thinking, and our story. And, that, is a great tragedy that sometimes accompanies both motherhood and chronic illness.
I want to encourage you: don’t let motherhood or chronic issues steal your story or your fulfillment. You are worth so much more than that.