Your Voice Matters, Mama

Motherhood is truly one of the greatest joys in my life, but I will be honest and tell you that being a mother has also been one of the hardest parts of my journey. No one sends you home from the hospital with a manual about raising your new baby or about how you will change from the inside out as you become a mom.

I knew that life with a husband and children would be wonderful, and I imagined that there would be hard parts, too. I grew up always knowing that I had the choice to find the positive in any situation so was sure I’d be able to handle most things that came my way once I became a mom. I’d just choose “happy.” I wouldn’t let anything or anyone change who I was or let them remove the rose-colored glasses I’d been looking at life through.

Then life happened. And happened again. And again. Those really, really good times in life and then those things you don’t see coming: accidents, injuries, losses, mistakes. Things I had no control over. Each time a situation took my control out of my hands, it left me at a loss. A loss for words. A loss of hope. A loss of ME.

Losing myself in motherhood is one of the best and worst things that has ever happened to me. It’s a double-edged sword, because with the challenges comes the gratitude, and with the good comes the bad. It took ten years of motherhood to realize one day, surrounded by three young kids, that I had lost myself. I’d lost the little girl who imagined the dreams that she would pursue as an adult, the one who would pinky swear with her 12-year-old BFF that they’d go on a girl’s vacation every year, even when they were “old and married.” The one who had quiet confidence and wouldn’t let someone tell her how to feel or who to be.

Somehow, around this same time, an opportunity that I wasn’t looking for and didn’t know I needed presented itself to me in the form of a “side hustle.” You know, those multi-level marketing plans that reach out to moms with the allure of free dream vacations and money you can make while still being a stay-at-home mom? I didn’t even realize until I bought the cute kit that I had actually signed up to be a consultant for a MLM. I just wanted the cute bags for a great discount. Little did I know that God had different plans for me.

The box of products came, along with a brightly colored catalog, and I was giddy. I loved the fun tote bags and the message of the company! It was just what I needed—to be inspired, celebrated, and encouraged. Of course, I had to share how cute these bags were, so I showed the catalog to some friends during a playdate. That playdate turned into $1,000 in sales, and I still didn’t realize I was the consultant! It took me two full weeks to understand that all I had to do was show the catalog, then take the orders and submit them.

All of a sudden, I was earning money on my own, and all of it was from hanging out with my friends. That first paycheck ($250) reminded me who I used to be before I became a mom: capable and independent. It awakened my old self, Kelsy the person (not just Kelsy the wife and mom) and lit a fire under my booty that burns to this day!

It’s been almost eight years since I bought that little kit that changed my life. I did earn the free trips, grew a team, and found ways to feel important outside of motherhood. The first time I was invited to one of the company conferences, I didn’t ask my husband if I could go out of town for a few days to attend. I told him that I needed to go, for myself and my sanity. I put myself first and went, traveling sometimes with others and sometimes by myself, putting on my big girl pants and putting aside the mom guilt.

I hadn’t known how much I missed that part of myself. The most important part of the whole process for me, though, was gaining my voice back. Over the years, especially with little kids who need you all the time, it’s so hard to get out from under yourself and break away. To relax. To go on those girls’ trips that you and your bestie dreamed about. You know what I’m talking about, mama—some days, it’s hard to even get to the toilet by yourself, let alone take a solo trip to Target. It’s easier to put those needs aside for your family and focus on them, slowly burying your own needs further and further down until you can’t even recognize them anymore.

Doing that for myself eight years ago, finally not caring who agreed with me or not, was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. It took time to grow my confidence back, to remind myself that I was the one in charge of me and my needs. However, once I stopped making excuses (“my husband won’t let me, I don’t have enough time, I can’t find childcare, it costs too much”), nothing could stop me from doing and dreaming again.

It all starts within; you have to want it enough to make it happen. If you want it badly enough, the ones who love you will encourage and support you.

I’m here to tell you that doing something for yourself, even as a tired mom, is the only way you will be able to recognize who you are at your best. Your family will thank you when you are strong, confident, and capable, not only as a mom, but as a person. Your kids will see your light shine, your smile come back, and your heart lighten. They will see who you are underneath the mom hat. Give them that opportunity. You don’t have to stay depressed and depleted because that’s how it’s been for as long as you can remember. You have the choice, and you still have your voice.

Five years ago, I had to use my voice more than I ever imagined when our daughter was struggling with a year-long chronic mystery illness. I wasn’t being heard by the doctors. I wasn’t being listened to, and it made me feel useless, angry, and sad. When she was finally diagnosed with Lyme disease, I thought everything would be better. Life would get back to normal with her on the right medications. Little did I know that I wouldn’t get back to normal for months after that. I suffered post-traumatic stress syndrome, until one day, I woke up knowing I needed to find a way out of it.

That day, to help not only myself but also other depleted mamas who’ve lost their voices, I created a platform and conference called BLOOM (By Loving On Ourselves More, We Bloom). Every year, this annual “momference” gives moms a reason to gather, connect, and grow. It gives them a reason to “escape” so that they can focus on themselves and relax. It gives them a chance to use their voice and say, “I matter. I need this for me.” And it reminds them that they’re not alone.

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About the Author | Kelsy McHenry

As the wife of an adventurous husband and the mom of three kids, three dogs, and a lot of fish, Kelsy McHenry finds joy in spending time with her family and in her work by creating a platform and events for moms to connect. That—and her "village" of friends and family who help her get it all done. Oh, and wine...and coffee!

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