One November day, author, influencer and Finding Joy Founder Rachel Marie Martin stood at her bedroom window, where she had an epiphany. Much like the trees before her, which stood with bare limbs after a gush of wind removed the remaining leaves, she felt exposed. In her own words, she realized she had been lost in her own life, waiting for things to change. With this epiphany came a mission. She would work to ensure that other mothers felt supported in their navigation of these feelings. In 2011, she began writing letters to moms on her site, Finding Joy.
Much like other mothers, Martin found herself driving through life with the brakes on. Unfortunately, the extent to which her experience mirrors that of other mothers speaks to a cultural phenomenon and a major societal problem. According to Motherly’s 2021 State of Motherhood Survey, 93% of mothers report feeling burned out, at least occasionally. What’s worse, 43% of mothers report feeling burned out more frequently, with 16% of mothers reporting feelings of burnout “all the time”. It takes a village, and the United States’ mothers are feeling the crushing weight of either not having, or being divested of, one.
We spoke with Martin about her book Mom Enough: Inspiring Letters for the Wonderfully Exhausting but Totally Normal Days of Motherhood, which encourages moms by sharing Martin’s own personal journey through heartache, self-doubt, and the challenges of motherhood. The book, which comes after The Brave Art of Motherhood, stands as the culmination of the work she has been doing to heighten her sense of personal fulfillment and happiness, and gift mothers all over the world with affirming gems about the journey. It is due for release on September 26, 2023.
One of Martin’s first letters on the Finding Joy website, which is included in Mom Enough, was in response to a comment a reader sent her. “This reader told me she felt like a failure as a mom and wondered if I had ever felt the same. I wrote the letter, “Dear Mom Who Feels Like She is Failing” back to her after I realized her comment was anonymous and there was no email address.” Ironically, working to support another mother’s healing inadvertently facilitated Martin’s own—and thousands of other mothers who experienced those feelings of inadequacy. The letter went viral.
“The letter was about my own feelings of failure as a mom, but led to the reframing of seeing how all that we do matters tremendously,” said Martin. “In fact, if we worry about failing, it means we want to be a good mom. And wanting to be a good mom, in fact, means that we value our role as moms greatly.“
This was the first of dozens of viral letters Martin wrote to moms. Leaning on their capacity for assisting mothers in their healing, Martin compiled the letters to form Mom Enough. And in Mom Enough, she is honoring her authenticity by showcasing motherhood in its full scope. “They celebrate the good, the challenging, the letting go, the learning – all the facets of one’s motherhood story.”
It’s important to note that authenticity is what got her here. During our interview, she noted the value of storytelling. “I decided early on in my writing career that I was going to share my heart and that perhaps one other mom would resonate.” Little did she know, she’d be the catalyst for other mothers who wanted to feel heard and understood. “What I discovered is that when you share about your real, you inspire others to share their real. And in those moments one goes from feeling, ‘Am I the only one who feels this way?’ to discovering that you are, in fact, not alone.”
Among the motherhood lessons nestled within the letters is the value of simplicity. Ironically, what enables Martin and other mothers to push through feelings of great complexity in motherhood are the seemingly small moments. “I’ve been a mom more than half my life and the biggest thing I’ve learned is that it is always one day at a time, do your best, and appreciate the moments kind of existence. The things I thought would be the big things often were overshadowed by the simple moments – playing cards, seeing a rainbow, waiting in the auditorium for their smile – and those simple moments have become what I remember.”
Additionally, the book calls for a reframing. On Finding Joy, Martin challenges the concept of the supermom to push new conceptions of motherhood in its place. To Martin, the supermom is the everyday mom who is simply just doing—or, in her own words, “the one who shows up, loves, and keeps going.”
Mom Enough is just as much an affirmation as it is an exhortation. “As for new moms, I really want them to learn to extend grace to themselves in the journey. There is so much pressure – to do, to be, to excel, to strive – and sometimes the grace we would extend to others we forget to give to ourselves. Those early days of motherhood are filled with unknowns and sometimes we feel like we should know, and in that moment we can judge our stories. Instead of judging, I believe we should give ourselves grace. Grace and pride for all the moments when one doesn’t know what to do but continues to show up.”
ABOUT RACHEL MARIE MARTIN
Rachel Marie Martin believes in the power of the human spirit to overcome, to thrive and to find deep joy and because of that she pours out her heart via these platforms: she is the writer behind the site FindingJoy.net and author of The Brave Art of Motherhood (Waterbrook, 2018) and a founding partner in Audience Industries – a company designed to train and equip entrepreneurs in their ventures. Her articles have been translated into over 25 languages, her site reaches millions of visitors per month and she has a robust, engaged Facebook community.
Connect with Rachel Marie Martin: Official site