I know Daughter of Ruth has been on one massive hiatus – since January of 2018, as a matter of fact. My life has changed drastically since then. When last I wrote, I was a wife and a mastiff mom, and, unbeknownst to me, I was very, very newly pregnant. And now I’m a wife and the mom of a beautiful baby girl. What a huge change. Even more than getting married, I think having a child changed my life. The story of her birth is one for another day, but the entire process sent me into an overwhelming whirlwind of exhaustion, uncertainty and a sense that nothing I did and nothing I am was good enough. That’s certainly not something they prep you for in the birthing classes offered at the hospital. (But they should!)

So the last nine months have been a struggle to regain some balance in my life. I won’t pretend it’s been pretty. It hasn’t. There have been lots (and lots, and lots) of tears. There have been moments of intense frustration with myself and everyone around me. There have been arguments, some justified, some very much not so. My husband has been incredibly patient through it all, even when I’m pretty sure he had every right to blow up at me more than once. But I’m finally coming to a place where I feel like I’m learning to breathe again.

No, the baby isn’t sleeping through the night. (Dear Jesus, please let that happen soon!) So I’m not sleeping through the night. But either exhaustion and I have settled into a comfortable relationship with one another, or I’ve just reached a new level of delusion that makes it seem normal. Either way, I’m discovering how to function in my new reality.

As a part of that, I’ve been looking for something, anything, to help me redefine my life as it is now and live out the very best life that I can. I’m coming to accept that my present circumstance is just not going to be anything remotely Pinterest-worthy in the near future. But sometimes I wonder if anyone’s life really is that perfect, or if we all shove aside the clutter for that perfect picture so no one sees the madness of our actual everyday lives. Because if I were to take a picture of my desk at this very moment you might wonder how I get any work done at all in the midst of the mess, and the nursery is filled with baskets of clean, outgrown clothes waiting to be boxed up while the clean, wearable clothes are waiting to be sorted into the closet or the dresser and all I can manage to do in that room is change a diaper and lay the baby down for a nap and I have to be proud of that most days. And don’t get me started on our refrigerator or my corner of the bedroom where it looks like my closet threw up every article of clothing I own.

Overwhelming. Exhausting. Too much. And I keep expecting more of myself.

Have you been there? If you’ve ever been a new mom trying to work full time and take care of a baby full time, I would guess that the answer is a resounding “Yes.” (And, if not, PLEASE share your secrets with me.) I don’t think that space is reserved for new moms, however. Maybe you just got a diagnosis that left you reeling. Maybe you’re lost in the throws of grief, your world turned upside down and you feel like you’ll never find your balance again. Maybe the rug got pulled out from under you when you heard the word “Divorce.” Or maybe it’s a million little things that don’t seem like they are that crushing, but all together at once they make you feel like you’re drowning. There are a lot of things that happen in life that threaten to overwhelm us, and sometimes it really is all we can do to keep our heads above water. But maybe, like me, you’re coming to a point where you want to do something more than tread water, but you don’t know where to start.

I won’t lie to you. I don’t have an answer that works for everyone. Undoubtedly your situation is different than mine. But I can tell you what I’m trying in hopes that it points you in the direction that works for you.

To start, I’m trying to find little moments in my day, or maybe an hour in the course of my week, to step back and look at everything going on, take stock of it all, and decide what matters most, and what matters less. And then I try to get intentional about the things that matter most, and sometimes I just have to let those things that matter less slide off my plate for a day or two (or seven). Because as much as I want to, I’m coming to the place where I have to admit that I simply cannot do it all.

As I was trying to figure out how to determine what mattered most and what mattered less, I came across a couple of questions that were posed for people trying to live more intentionally.

What do you want more of in your life? What do you want less of in your life?

Wow… loaded questions. What do I want more of in life?

  1. Sleep
  2. Laughter
  3. Joy
  4. Loving moments with my husband
  5. Memories with my daughter

What do I want less of in life?

  1. Tears
  2. Frustration
  3. Anxiety
  4. Pressure to be Perfect

And now it’s up to me to figure out what things to add to my life, which things to subtract from my life, and which attitudes I need to change myself to have more of the first list and less of the second. So that’s what I’m working on now – being intentional about what I pursue, what I allow to consume my thoughts and emotions, what I invest my time in, and also being intentional about removing the stressors or distractions from my life that keep me from pursuing what is best for me.

Of course I can’t (nor do I want to) remove things like my husband or daughter from my life. As tempting as it was to put “Dirty Diapers” on that second list, I will gladly take every last dirty diaper, even the blowouts, because with them comes the giggles, the smiles, snuggles and all the new discoveries that are so precious to me. But I can decide that maybe the nursery doesn’t have to be perfect, and maybe it’s okay if I didn’t manage to read to her for 20 minutes today. She’s fed, she’s healthy, she knows she’s loved… reading can wait until tomorrow.

So what are your lists? What do you want to pursue more of, and what do you want to purge from your life? Share in the comments below, and let’s start exploring this together.


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6 Responses
  1. Your dad’s cousin (Roberta)

    Well written! That’s life! I do remember those days, but they’ve faded somewhat until I read things like this that bring it all back, and then some. Now I spend days wondering each morning if I’ll have enough strength to get those things done that I thought of last night and thought, “there’s always another day to complete what needs to be done”. I’m thankful for what I can complete, and thankful for friends and family who call or send a card or even a quick message on FB or text. I take pleasure in the good memories, the puppy that wags it’s tail, the neighbor who brought over a grilled chicken dinner, my son who calls or sends me pictures of his gardens. I look forward to lunch tomorrow with my daughter, my granddaughter, 8 grandchildren and I think…. I am blessed.

    1. JoAnn

      Roberta, those are all beautiful things! Jason and I were talking last night about how we need to slow down and enjoy the moments in life instead of letting them pass us by as we stare at our phones.

      Enjoy your beautiful day today! We are all so blessed.

  2. Dianna

    I have missed your writing! It was such a joy to read your words again.

    I desire to know God even more. I want to love like Jesus did/does. Sharing my faith with my students is a yearly goal for me. I hope and pray I am impacting my students for life and pointing them to the Lord.

    I would like to purge negativity and be intentional about being part of the solution and not the problem. At work in a school full of women, it is challenging not to be drawn into drama and gossip. I pray the Lord teaches me how to trust his ways and thoughts and not any of mine.

    I know trusting in the Lord is the way. As I read my Bible, I am cognizant that the words are about my Father and Savior. His WORDS are not just stories or events. The words I read over and over point me to who He is and not what He can do for me.

    My God is real and a friend!

    1. JoAnn

      It’s good to be back! And, Dianna, you are an inspiration to me. I see the love of Jesus and the desire to seek Him and know Him more in you and it humbles and challenges me. I know we all have room for improvement, but I also know you’re on the right track and leading others along the way.

      I’ll pray with you about not being lured into gossip or drama as that’s something I’m trying to avoid myself and I know what a test of faith and integrity it can be.

      Love you, my friend!

  3. Glad you’re back! It’s like looking in a mirror, Just Joan! You’re living through the yummy Hades I went through the first couple of years. Believe me, it will get better. This, too, will pass. Better sleep schedules will return, then it’s off to the races with the next shake up. You have the right idea: look for what you want more of, let go what really is not important (like making the house perfect every week. Nope. Sorry. Ain’t nobody got time for that when you have tickles to give and rocket-firing poop to clean off the wall. #truestory). Even at 10 years old, I still want more time with Josh, more laughter, more memories. And I wanted more art in my life, so I got back to painting. I want less anxiety, as I suffered from panic attacks(and still do on occasion) and insomnia last year. I want to appreciate the most normal of things and find them extraordinary. Painting and sketching has really helped me with that. Love to you and your family, my sunshine! You’re an incredible Mom, because you’re JoAnn. And that’s all you should aspire to be.

    1. JoAnn

      Awwww, thank you, Yoda! I understand much of what you’ve gone through – I’ve been there. But, like you, I’ve found it does make a difference to adjust my attitude rather than letting circumstances run me over.

      And I’m glad you’ve rediscovered the joy of your art! You’ve always been so talented and I love seeing you express yourself that way again. I am looking forward to seeing tons more! Love you so much, my friend!

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About the Author

Hello! I’m a wife and mother, a mastiff lover, a believer, writer, designer and small business owner. I love cheesy movies, bike rides and chocolate. Welcome to my world!