Do moms need a purpose beyond motherhood?

By Saren Eyre Loosli

For Power of Moms

Published: Friday, April 18 2014 1:10 p.m. MDT

Saren Eyre Loosli with her children.

Courtesy of Power of Moms

Enlarge photo»

When our kids are young, is motherhood supposed to be our sole pursuit? Is it OK to have other things we’re also spending significant time on?

I recently read this article in which Tiffany Gee Lewis talked about how she struggled while trying to focus entirely on raising her children and how she finally arrived at the understanding that she needed a purpose beyond motherhood — something she could call her own and a chance to develop her own interests.

The article made me think back through my own years of motherhood and realize that while many of the things I’ve done besides motherhood may have felt more like necessary extra burdens than blessings at times, they were what I needed.

I waited quite a long time for motherhood, and since having my first child, I’ve thought of motherhood as my foremost occupation and pursuit. But I’ve always had other things I’ve worked on simultaneously.

Often, we needed extra income, and I was able to find jobs that paid me very well for a manageable (though often stressful) number of hours of work each week. I evaluated school programs with a baby strapped to my back and set up training conferences over the phone and through email while my babies were napping and my little kids played quietly. Other times, I had major commitments to my church or to community organizations that kept me very busy with meetings and on the phone and computer.

When we had three preschoolers and found out we were expecting twins, I had to go on partial bed rest and finally became “just a mom” for a while. I found my little kids and my pregnancy — and later my two newborns alongside the preschoolers — to be completely consuming. I sometimes found time to shower. I read a little sometimes. I wrote weekly updates on our family’s adventures. But mostly, life was all about motherhood and all its magical moments alongside all its grueling grunt work.

But after about three months of total motherhood focus, we jumped into the huge project of building a new home. For the better part of a year, researching possibilities, making plans, working with subcontractors and doing work ourselves on our new home became almost a full-time job — alongside the full-time job of motherhood. It was stressful, and sometimes I wished I could just give up the “extracurricular” activities and be “just a mom” again. But I got a chance to delve into the field of design — a desire I’d always had. And we were able to create a wonderful home for our family without spending a ton of money.

Once we finally moved into the new house, I found myself helping with way too many projects at my kids’ school (it's hard not to when the school needed the very types of programs I knew so much about through previous jobs I’d had and anything I could do to help the school would help my own children) while still taking care of quite a few preschoolers, getting involved in the neighborhood association — all things that totally supported my kids’ and family’s needs — but also all things that took lots of time.

And then I met April Perry and The Power of Moms became a serious pursuit. Our website helps me be a better mom in so many ways, but it also takes a lot of time and thought and effort and perhaps some of that time, thought, and effort could be put toward my family if it weren’t for the needs of the website.

So I guess I’ve almost always had a purpose (or several) besides motherhood. I’ve sometimes bemoaned how things have worked out and expressed that I wish I could “just be a mom” and enjoy motherhood more. At these moments, my husband is always quick to say, “You’d go crazy. You need other things too.” He’s probably right.

But I know moms who are able to focus entirely on motherhood and derive great pleasure from this focus.

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