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Posts Tagged ‘wishes’

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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baby

Image credit: happytag.blogspot.ca

I see you there with your new baby wrapped in your arms, your eyes full of tears and your mind full of all the hopes and dreams you have for them.

As I see you wishing a hundred different wishes for them, I have a few of my own for you – the new mother.

I wish you the strength to trust your own instincts because although you may doubt that you have any, you do. You just need to quiet the hundreds of voices offering a thousand pieces of advice long enough to hear them. No one knows your baby better than you. Trust that, and trust yourself.

I wish you the vision to not lose sight of yourself and the needs you have as a person, separate from the needs of your baby. Your opinions matter, your feelings matter, your wants and needs matter. Yes your baby is important, but so are you.

I wish you a circle of mothers to surround you; women who love you enough to tell it like it is. Not to scare or depress you but so that in your darkest hour, when you sit on the floor of your baby’s room, tears streaming down your face wondering if you’ve made the biggest mistake of your life, you will not feel alone. We have all felt that way. Wrongly thinking you are the only one makes it a hundred times worse.

I wish you the knowledge that every moment, good or bad, is fleeting. This too shall pass, whether you want it to or not. Accept that the minutes and hours will seem endless but the months and years will go by in an instant. There are many moments you will wish to forget, but also so many you wish you could hold onto forever.

I wish you the ability to cut yourself some slack. You can’t do it all; some of the balls you are juggling will fall to the ground and that’s okay. Maybe you’ll pick them up, maybe you won’t. Life will go on whether you finish the baby book or not.

I wish you a group of true friends who knew you before you became a mother and stick with you after. Friends who realize it may take you a few days to answer an email and accept without question why you have to bring your breast pump to dinner. People who know visiting the baby is one thing, but coming over with a home-cooked meal and a genuine desire to fold the laundry is a thousand times better.

I wish you the understanding that happiness exists in moments, but true contentment lasts much longer. There will be moments of bliss so pure that you will literally feel your heart breaking, but they cannot and will not last. If you expect them to, you will live your life in disappointment. Strive for contentment, acceptance, and the ability to wait in peaceful anticipation of the next moment of bliss, whenever it may come.

I wish you the patience to deal with people who criticize and judge. You can’t control how much their words will hurt, but you can control how long you let them sting.

I wish you the wisdom to accept help when it is offered. If someone wants to cook you dinner or do the dishes or change a diaper, let them. Doing everything yourself does not make you a better mother, and at the end of the day, you’ll be the only one keeping score.

And most of all I wish that one day you will gain the confidence to realize that you are doing a great job at this motherhood thing; no matter how loudly the voices in your head try to tell you otherwise.

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wise words

The other day we were on the way to the park and my son suddenly ditched his bike and went running into a nearby field.  It took me a moment to figure out what he was doing; and then I turned and saw about a hundred wishing flowers.

Just a week earlier it had been a field full of ugly yellow dandelions but in the span of a few short days it had turned into a child’s dream.

My son spent a few minutes looking over the flowers – you really don’t want to waste a good wish on a so-so wishing flower after all!  Once he finally selected the perfect one, he closed his eyes, screwed up his face and wished.  Then he started to blow.  After about 10 seconds of hard blowing, a few little tufts remained on the flower, and everyone knows your wish isn’t going to come true unless you blow the whole flower!

So he paused, thought for a minute and started shaking the flower, forcing the last few tufts off.

“What are you doing bud?” I asked him.

He looked at me like it was the most obvious thing in the world.

“Sometimes wishes need a little bit of help Mama.”

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