Mamas, we need to stop postponing our happiness

What would happen if we lived each day as if we were enough?

Mamas, we need to stop postponing our happiness

I’ll be happy when . . . I get married.

I’ll be happy when I have children.

I’ll be happy when I lose all this baby weight.

Or maybe I’ll be happy when we get a bigger house.

Then we’ll have less clutter and more space. The kids can have a bigger backyard to play in and maybe they won’t constantly ask me “what can I play with?”

I find myself having this type of thinking a lot.

In fact, I’ve had it for years.

I’m always looking forward to the next best thing.

As a person who loves to plan, I get excited when I think about the future. My dreams come alive and I am filled with anticipation. I know when I lose the baby weight I’ll be happy and when my kids get just a little bit older life will be so much easier. These dreams will bring me joy.  Except when they don’t.

Because, you see I lost the baby weight and we got the bigger house yet none of my problems were solved. I still worried about how I looked and the kids still followed me around the house tugging at my leg. The toys still ended up all over the floor even though we have more storage and the housework is still there.

The thinner body and bigger house didn’t make me happier.

I’m tired of tricking myself into believing that stuff, things or events will make my happy. It seems whenever my wish is fulfilled there is something else that would make my life easier, better or happier. I’ll be happy when ____. Fill in the blank.

A few months ago, I decided I had enough. No longer did I want to live for the next best thing.

I wanted to start enjoying life right now.

I thought about some of the happiest days of my life. Some of them were extraordinary like getting married or backpacking through Europe. Others were simple days at home where I truly enjoyed the company of my small children and appreciated my job as a stay at home mom. So what made those days different?

The days where I felt like a joyful mother I didn't strive for more or wish things were different. I was living in the moment and practicing thankfulness. Instead of worrying about how I could be a better wife, mother or friend I believed I was enough. My kids were enough, my husband was enough, my house was enough. I am enough.

What would happen if we lived each day as if we were enough?

What if we loved our husbands and our kids just as they are right now? Instead of always wishing things were different.

I found freedom in motherhood when I let go of expectations. I stopped trying to control everything and I stopped using the words “I wish.” I learned to go with the flow and not worry about things of this world. More stuff isn’t going to make me happy.

I also slowly learned to view social media with a filter. The more time I spend on Facebook or Instagram the more I struggle with the "I’ll be happy when..." attitude. When I'm stuck in this attitude I don't get the inspiration or encouragement I am seeking from social media. Instead I start comparing my not so glamorous life to other people’s highlight reels.

When I view myself as enough I no longer wish for happiness.

I'm living in it right now.

Motherhood is a journey and I’m sure there are many more lessons I need to learn. But for now I’m letting go of feelings of disappointment, resentment and comparison.

Instead I’m embracing life, as it is right now, messy buns, dirty dishes, toddler tantrums and all.

My village lives far away—but my Target baby registry helped them support me from afar

Virtual support was the next best thing to in-person hugs

They say you shouldn't make too many major life transitions at once. But when I was becoming a mama for the first time nearly five years ago, my husband and I also moved to a new town where we didn't know a soul, bought our first house and changed jobs.

To put it mildly, we didn't heed that advice. Luckily, our family and friends still made it feel like such a magical time for us by supporting our every move (literal and otherwise) from afar. They showered us with love through a virtual baby shower (expectant parents nowadays can relate!) featuring the unwrapping of gifts they were able to ship straight to me from my Target registry.

Here's one piece of advice I did take: I registered at Target so I could take advantage of the retailer's benefits for registrants, which include a welcome kit valued over $100, a universal registry function and more. Fast-forward a few years and Target has made the registration perks even better for expectant parents: As of August 2020, they've added a Year of Exclusive Deals, which gives users who also sign up for Target Circle a full year of savings after baby is born on all those new mama essentials, from formula to diapers and beyond.

Honestly, even without the significant perks of a free welcome kit with more than $100 in coupons, additional 15% off coupons to complete the registry and a full year of free returns, registering at Target wasn't a hard sell for me: Even though the experience of shopping for baby items was new, shopping with Target felt like returning home to me… and the comfort of that was such a gift.

And of course, Target's registry plays a vital role right now, as expectant parents everywhere are being forced to cancel in-person baby showers and navigate early parenthood without the help of a hands-on village. A registry like this represents a safe way for communities to come through for new parents. If you're anything like me (or any of the other mamas here at Motherly), you certainly have emotional ties and fond memories associated with Target.

What to register for at Target was also an easy talking point as I began to connect with moms in my new community. I will always remember going on a registry-building spree with my next door neighbor, who had young children of her own. As we walked the aisles of Target back in 2015, she suggested items to add… and we laid the foundation for what has since become one of my most cherished friendships.

Even as I made connections in my new hometown, I was nervous that expecting my first baby wouldn't feel as special as if I were near family and friends. But my loved ones exceeded all expectations by adding the most thoughtful notes to gifts. They hosted a beautiful virtual baby shower and even encouraged me to keep the registry going after my baby made his debut and new needs arose.

In the years since, "community" has taken on a wonderfully complex new meaning for me… and, in these times of social distancing, for the rest of the world. I've come to cherish my newfound friends in our local community alongside those long-time friends who are scattered around the county and my virtual mama friends.

Now, as my friends' families grow, I'm so grateful that I can show them the same love and support I felt during my first pregnancy. I sing the praises of Target's baby registry—especially in light of the pandemic, since I know mamas can do everything from a distance thanks to Target's website and the added benefit of getting trusted reviews and helpful registry checklists.

And now that I'm on the gift-buying side of the equation, I've found new joy in picking thoughtful gifts for my friends. (Because goodness knows Target has something for everyone!)

For my friend who is a fellow runner, I teamed up with a few others to give the jogging stroller she had on her registry.

For my friend who is a bookworm, I helped her start her baby's library with a few books that are also well-loved in our home.

For other friends, I've bundled together complete "sets" with everything they need for bathing or feeding their children.

I know from my own experience that, yes, the registry purchases are so appreciated, but the thoughtfulness and the support they represent means even more. Because although my village may have been distant, the support they showed me was the next best thing to in-person hugs.

Start your own Target Baby Registry here to experience a Year of Benefits including a Year of Exclusive Deals through Target Circle to enjoy for a full year following your baby's arrival, a year of free returns, two 15% off completion coupons and a free welcome kit ($100 value).

This article was sponsored by Target. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas.

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