by Heather Bryant
When I first quit my career to stay at home with my infant daughter full-time, I knew I had a lot to learn but no idea how much…
I had no idea what I was doing. There had been no children in my life since I was a child and I babysat my cousins (and that was ages ago!). I’d never been much of a cook ‒ and I had previously hired a cleaning service ‒ so the word “homemaking” really had no meaning for me. All my friends were single and working during the day. So while I spent a lot of time on Facebook, I didn’t actually speak with anyone other than my husband, who I mostly fought with, and my daughter, who could only babble.
My neighbor is the one who rescued me. She invited me over for coffee while we watched her kids and mine play in the front room. She introduced me to MOPS and reacquainted me with the love of Jesus through her gentle example. She introduced me to other moms who were supportive and kind. They were so helpful, inclusive and non-judgmental. To this day, I am hugely grateful for MOPS and still attend meetings, even though I’m two states away from where I began.
At this same time I found a blog where I learned about healthy, whole foods and true stewardship. I learned how to make bone broth, soak beans and enjoy oatmeal. Reading the blog also taught me that I could still make a difference even if I was “only” a mom staying at home.
Fast-forward a couple of years and we now own a farm where I’m raising two beautiful children. We live in a turn-of-the-century farmhouse (remodeled and lovingly restored) that sits amid acres of rolling pastures and woodlands. From this comfortable place, I can look back and realize that through various trials, challenges and hardships, I’ve learned a lot since that first day. Here are the top three lessons I’ve learned:
1. I can’t do it all alone. I tried. I really did. But doing it alone is misery. For me, my husband and the kids. No matter how successful my career was, no matter how much money I made, how loving my handsome husband was, how smart and healthy my children were – nothing was ever good enough and I was never happy. Postpartum depression aside, when I finally realized that everything I have is a blessing from God and that I need him first and foremost, everything else began to fall into place. Even though the next few years were fraught with disasters and challenges, I was finally humble enough to ask for help. And that alone led to a contentedness that money can’t buy. I found that I need friends – real friends in the flesh – to encourage, support and, yes, even call me out (preferably in private) when I am wrong. I need mentors, guides, experts and those whose opinions oppose my own to challenge me, inform me and teach me, even if only lessons in humility and patience.
2. My body isn’t just a temple. My body is a machine. And it needs regular maintenance. Just like the house, appliances and my car. I never was thin, but during my first pregnancy I really let my weight get out of control. I was pushing 300 pounds. A 300-pound vegetarian. Seriously.
After joining a weight loss clinic and maintaining a diet of 600 calories a day – shakes and protein bars only – I lost nearly 100lbs. In six months. Without exercising. As we all know, this is not the healthy or right way. But when I got all that weight off me, I could finally think clearly for the first time in years. My hormones were under control and I had so much energy. I felt alive. And that felt great! I began working out and eating better.
I’m still overweight (thanks to baby number two and living 300 miles from the nearest Whole Foods). I have another 50 pounds to lose to reach my goal, but now I know what I have to do, and, more importantly, why. I have to make smart, healthy decisions on an ongoing basis to keep my immune system functioning well, to have energy and to be able to think clearly.
3. Keep calm and keep moving. Whenever I used to hit a roadblock in life, I would just stop. I would quit. I would stop trying and start eating – usually junk food. Life has its share of disaster, tragedies and challenges. But the world keeps moving onward regardless if mine feels like it has ended. The only way to survive and achieve anything is to keep moving.
No matter what happens, no matter how awful, you just have to keep putting one foot in front of the other doing what needs to be done – one thing at a time – until eventually life will achieve a new normal. And someday, hopefully soon, life will be good again. Laughter will follow the tears.