Sunday, March 18, 2012

On Mothering

My oldest child will be 4 years old this week. I've been working on this mothering gig for FOUR years now. And just in the last month or so, I feel like I've finally started believing that this work I'm doing is important. This isn't to say that I've spent the last four years feeling like being a mother is no big deal. I've always known that it is supposedly important work, that what I do day-to-day doesn't have instant gratification but will pay off in the long run, or that I am one of the single greatest influences on my children - especially at this young age. But even when you know those things, sometimes you still don't really feel them in your soul.

This was me. I had moved away from wanting an outside career and I knew that I really did want to be at home with my children while I had the opportunity. I knew that I was doing something important with my life, even if most of my days felt difficult and tiring. However, I still felt a little embarrassed - or perhaps, uncomfortable - with the fact that when people asked me, "What do you do?", my answer was, "I'm a stay-at-home-mother." In truth, I was saying that I believed it was important, but I wasn't really feeling it.

I am certainly not the best mother. And Pinterest could make me REALLY depressed if I let it (all those DIY moms out there have raised the bar). But, my kids are smart. My kids get along well with other children. They enjoy reading and music. And they are developing some fantastic little personalities. Would they be doing all those same things if they had been in daycare? Probably. BUT, I've been there for all of it and I'm incredibly thankful for that. I know some families don't have any choice but for both parents to work. And in some families, both parents WANT to work outside the home. Every family is different. But, for me, having children has dramatically changed my perspective on many things - my career included.

Mothering is my career at the moment. It's not just a way to pass the time while I wait for my career to begin. Mothering has brought out the most authentic version of myself that I doubt would have emerged so soon had I not been a mother. The things that are most important to me, the values that I want to live by, the things I want to believe in, my best attributes and contributions to others, have sprung forth in an effort to be a good mother. This work I'm doing is not only meaningful to my children, but it has become meaningful to me. And no doubt, it will be meaningful, and will have shaped any future career path I follow.

My husband often tells me that he thinks I have much to contribute to the professional world, and I know that one of the reasons he fell in love with me was for my academic drive and intellectual curiosity. And just this morning, he admitted that sometimes he gets annoyed with any statements I make about not going back to work for a while. At some point, we may not be in a place, financially, where I have a choice about it. But it's hurtful when I feel as though my husband - my biggest supporter - doesn't really think I'm fulfilling my purpose. And, regardless of whether or not that is exactly what he thinks, it IS how I interpret his words. I don't believe that everyone has a singular purpose or that anyone's purpose is the same throughout their lives.

I anxiously look forward to the days when I have a professional career again. I start getting excited when I think about all the things I could do to help other people in some way. Not to mention how much fun a professional wardrobe might be.... But that time just isn't now. Lots of other people could take care of my children while I pursued a career, but I am blessed to have the opportunity to do it myself. It's my choice. It's not what I'm settling on for now.

I'm 26 years old. If I'm lucky, I still have another 60 years on earth. That's plenty of time to pursue two or three more careers if I wanted to. So while I have the time, I'd like to focus on my own children. I've brought two souls into the world. Two little girls who need someone to care for them physically, psychologically, and spiritually. I feel responsible for that. And if that isn't a good purpose, I don't know what is. 

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