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a gift

For a couple of years when I was a kid I wanted to be a big animal vet, horses specifically. There was just something about them I loved, not to mention the whole draw of living on a farm and wearing jeans and boots all the time, which I somehow assumed went with the job. Then I wanted to be a travel agent. Flying off to distant lands, helping people plan their dream vacations; I couldn’t really see a downside. Then I wanted to be a journalist. Not a journalist in front of the camera but rather one behind the scenes, doing the research, putting together the pieces and then writing the words to bring it all to life. But no matter what form my life was going to end up taking, I knew one thing for certain: I was not going to settle until I found my calling.

I was, and still am, a big believer in the idea that there is something I’m meant to do.  There is something out there that will just click with me and I will love it and be good at it and be successful at it and it will not feel like work.  I grew up with two parents who worked extremely hard at their jobs and each achieved success in their fields but every day when they walked in the door, I could tell by the looks on their faces that it felt like work.

I ended up pursuing journalism and got halfway through the program at school before discovering I didn’t love it.  I stuck with it though, at the very least so I would have some letters after my name to fall back on until I found what it was I was searching for.  Then I met a guy and started dreaming very different dreams.  I started thinking that perhaps my calling had nothing to do with a career but rather that being a mother was what I was actually on the Earth to do.

Um, not exactly.

Two kids and ten years later and I have discovered that although I love my kids with a strength and conviction ‎that I can’t express or explain, motherhood is not my calling. I see mothers who truly love being mothers and I know, definitively, that I am not one of them. I love my kids with every ounce of who I am but, to be honest, being their mother almost always feels like work.

It took me a long time to get to a place where I could say that out loud (or at least out loud on paper) and not feel bad about it. It took me a long time to feel like I could share that part of me without also feeling like I had to apologize for even thinking it. I’m glad I finally got there; so relieved that after the days, weeks, months and years of feeling ashamed of the feelings that I wasn’t feeling, I can now accept myself and stop hiding it. I totally agree that motherhood is a gift, one that I will always be grateful that I was given but, as with some gifts, it has never felt like it fit quite right.

As they grow older, my kids need me in a much different way than when they were babies and toddlers and pre-schoolers. They need me in a much less physical way and although there is no doubt they still need me, their growing independence has left gaps in my days that I only used to fantasize about. When I spent hours in a rocking chair with one or the other attached to my body I used to dream of the gaps; of times when I could once again think thoughts of me and make plans for me and be inspired by the possibilities of what I could do.

Don’t get me wrong, most of my days are still filled to the brim with the kids, their activities and homework and friend problems and the constant search for missing library books, missing hair clips and whatever else manages to disappear on a regular basis, but now my mind has time to relax, even if my body doesn’t. I have time when I’m sitting on a hard wooden bench in a gymnasium watching my daughter chase after a soccer ball. I have time when I’m sitting on a hard wooden bench in a freezing cold arena watching my son stop hockey pucks. I have time when I’m sitting in front of a computer waiting to be inspired. I spend a lot of time sitting, and thinking, thinking and sitting and yet I’m no closer to finding any answers.

When I was a mother to babies I was filled with so many wishes and had no time to make them come true; as a mother to older kids I have all the time in the world but I seem to have forgotten what it means to wish wishes just for me.

I thought I had a plan for my life. I planned on school and I planned on a husband and I planned on the kids and the house with the two car garage but I guess that’s when I stopped planning. I wrote it all down on the pages of my life, hoping it would all eventually come true and I am so lucky that most of it has, but now I’m lost because I never planned what happens after.

And on the dark days I’m frustrated and disheartened to think that maybe I don’t have a gift to give, that I don’t have a role to fill beyond the one I play within these four walls. I get down on myself, I start to believe the negative thoughts in my head that tell me I have nothing left to offer, nothing to give that is worth anything.  On those days I feel like I’m trapped in a rut, a trench so deep and so wide and so long that I can’t see over the top of it.

But I’m not ready to give up just yet.  I’m not ready to pack away my perhaps childish idea that somewhere out there is the thing I’m meant to do and if I find it, when I find it, something inside will click into place like a key fitting inside a lock.

I have to believe it’s out there.  I have no choice but to teach myself how to once again start wishing wishes for me and finally start filling up the pages of the rest of my life.

 

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This essay and I are part of the Messy, Beautiful Warrior Project.  Click HERE to learn more and if you don’t know about Glennon Melton’s amazing memoir, Carry On Warrior: The Power of Embracing Your Messy, Beautiful Life, now’s your chance – it’s now out in paperback so pick up a copy!  It will have you laughing and crying, all in the same breath!

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