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Get Back in the Driver's Seat

Before having children, I thought I had myself and my life pretty well managed. After I married my husband, even the many challenges of marriage, overall, felt manageable. I still felt like I was in the driver’s seat of my life, my mind, and my emotions. Then came our first child, and within four and half years of her birth, we added two more beautiful little children to our family. At the birth of our third baby, we had three little ones aged four and under.

It was being a mom to these small, beautiful, smart, energetic children that pushed me to realize that I really didn’t have myself as put together as I thought. I had struggled with anger throughout my entire life, even as a small child, and I had done a lot of work over the years to keep it managed. But now, so much felt out of my control. There was so much noise around me. There were so many stressful, in-the-moment decisions to make. There were so many things and people to take care of. There was so much physical mess in my house and so much mental mess in my mind. I was not enjoying motherhood, and I often found myself feeling frustrated and stuck in anger and despair. I was so afraid of becoming the “angry mom” that I so desperately didn’t want to be. I did not feel like I was in that driver’s seat of my life anymore. I felt like anger was in the driver’s seat, and I was using every bit of energy I had left to keep it bottled up inside me so it didn’t explode out on everyone around me. I wanted something to change. I was willing to work more on myself, but I had no idea where to start.

Most of my friends had children of similar ages and stages, but I didn’t feel like I had anyone in my life at the time who was just a few years ahead of me that I could glean advice from. We had also moved cross-country and were trying to form new friendships in our new hometown. In-person groups and events were still largely on hold because of the pandemic, so meeting some moms a step ahead of me in my local community didn’t feel like an option either. So I did what any stereotypical millennial would do… I turned to social media! It HAD to have ALL the answers I was looking for, right!?

I went on Instagram and started following several Catholic moms who had large families, trying to somehow piece together an idea of how moms farther along on the journey than me managed the demands of motherhood in a healthier way than I did. That social media search ultimately led me to signing up for a group coaching experience offered by a coach that had been trained by Metanoia Catholic.

At the time when I signed up, I thought coaching was just advice giving. (Spoiler Alert: It’s not.) I felt a bit embarrassed that I needed to pay someone to give me advice on how to be a better mom. I thought that I should be able to figure it out on my own for free, but I was willing to risk feeling embarrassed if the coaching helped. I had also been skeptical of what I saw from secular life coaching. It seemed to me that it was New Age stuff where you found your inner peace, manifested your reality, and had no objective truth to guide you… just each person’s own subjective reality. That’s not what I wanted. I am a lifelong Catholic who knows and loves the Lord and the Catholic Church, and I wanted something in line with those values. I knew my coach was a devout Catholic, and I was convinced there would be something different about coaching with her. (Second Spoiler Alert: Authentically Catholic mindset coaching IS different from secular life coaching.) Looking back, it was absolutely the Holy Spirit giving me the peace and confidence I needed to make a step forward despite the objections in my mind. I was cautiously optimistic that this was going to help me, but I knew it was going to be something totally in line with the Catholic faith so I jumped in full force.

I did the work. (And it IS work!) I set goals. I got coached. I self-coached using the Metanoia Journal. I asked questions. I prayed. I was open to change. I got comfortable with being uncomfortable. (And, dang, was I REALLY uncomfortable at times!) Then I started to see transformations both large and small not only in my anger and my parenting but also in many other areas… my prayer life, my marriage, my relationships with other family members, my friendships, and on and on. I saw transformations that were beyond what I could have even thought to ask for because Christ was the one doing the transforming in me. I wasn’t just forcing myself to do things that I thought were good for me as I had done in the past. I was allowing Jesus to be the change agent in my life. I wasn’t suppressing my anger or forcing myself to let it go. I was allowing the Lord to transform it in me. I hadn’t even realized until then how much I had been relying on myself instead of the Lord in my struggle with anger. By letting God do the heavy lifting, I saw massive growth in myself in the span of a few months and was equal parts humbled, amazed, and grateful.

I am still far from a perfect mother. I don’t have it all figured out. My mind still gets messy and my emotions sometimes still feel out of control. I still feel anger and despair and fear at times, especially around my parenting. But now I have the tools to not stay stuck there feeling like a victim. I can self-coach. I can get coached by other amazing Catholic coaches. I have a community of like-minded people who I can lean on, and I can quickly get back in the driver’s seat – with Jesus right there with me.

Being a parent is a gift. It is a beautiful experience, and I am grateful for it. For me, it has also been a lot of hard work that has brought up things inside me that I hadn’t realize were there and in need of the Lord’s transformation, but I am grateful for the work. I am grateful because it has brought me ever closer to Him. I am grateful because it has made me into a much better mom, wife, daughter, and friend as a result, and I am grateful because doing my own work has unexpectedly awakened in me a call to help others do theirs.

Maybe right now you’re like I was and you find yourself feeling like you’re not the one in the driver’s seat of your life. Maybe you feel like your emotions are in that seat. Maybe you feel like nothing is in that seat at all, and you have no idea what the car is doing.

The good news is that there is hope. St. Paul’s prayer in Romans 5:13 is this: “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.” Our God is a God of hope. Are you willing to dare to hope for a better future?

If you are, maybe it’s your time to step out, get a coach, and learn how to coach yourself so that you can get back in that driver’s seat with Jesus right beside you and thrive.