Wednesday, September 3, 2008

A New Leaf

So I'm wondering if I'm being inordinately selfish in trying so hard to hold onto so much of "me". In chasing all of my hobbies and interests and projects, I feel like I'm "jack-of-all-trading" my children for my insane need to hold onto what I am.

I think some of this has to do with when I discovered "me". Getting married at 18 was great and I in no way regret it. In the eternal scheme of things, that happened at the right time. However, I have yet to become an eternal being-- meaning my temporal self missed out on some temporal development. Or something like that. What I'm trying to say is that right at the time when most people are still seeking their identities, settling into who they are (this sounds so vague and psychological), I got married and somehow my identity got wrapped up in D's. My friends were replaced by his friends and their wives. My hobbies centered around his.

I look at some of my friends now, Melody, Debbie, Emily, Ruth, Betsy... among many others... and I see all their amazing accomplishments. They have or have had successful careers. They've done something, made their mark in the world. And now, after they've developed this essential part of themselves, they are ready to take on that most important role of motherhood. I'm so intimidated by people who've had or have real jobs! I mean, c'mon, I've worked. But a job isn't the same as a career. I've never had a salary. I've never created or developed or managed something bigger than myself. (Well, aside from the obvious, but we're talking outside of motherhood here.) These are people who are real adults, not just popping out babies and flying by the seat of their pants. These are people who approach motherhood as the next big accomplishment in their lives, who see this whole role for what it is and see that it is the "time and season" to fulfill this calling.

Me? Yeah, I get it. On a theoretical level. But when it comes to being that mother myself, I confess I feel... well, unprepared. I don't feel like I'm even in the same league with these people. They approach motherhood with purpose and intent. And though I have joy in my children, it's almost as if I'm being dragged along for the ride. I try, I really do. Just not hard enough. I know what's in me and I know how that stacks against what I'm doing. And I fall sadly short.

Now, I'm not writing this so I get a whole bunch of "What are you talking about? You're a great mother!" comments. I'm not fishing for any pick-me-ups or compliments on my abilities. In fact, they make me feel worse, because then I feel like a fraud. Because, yay, so I look like a great mom to everyone else, but what do my children feel? How is my parenting reflected in them? Frankly, I think that I started out strong, but now I'm floundering. I am flying by the seat of my pants. And here we are back at the beginning-- why am I floundering in this, my most important of roles? Because I'm chasing after this unknown, lost "me". I'm spending so much time and energy trying to develop new talents or start new projects or even perfect old ones that I'm losing sight of what matters.

I'm not saying there's anything wrong with hobbies or whatever. Those same women I named? Each of them in their own way has a defined sense of self. Each of them incorporates their hobbies and talents into their new, family-oriented way of life. The difference is that they already developed these talents, these passions. Those aren't the focus at the present. They're fillers. The focus, for each of them, is their families. They use their talents to build and celebrate their families. I run from thing to thing, trying something new here, hoping that maybe I can make a buck off of it, or at least create something cool out of it. And all I have to show for it is a lot of half-assed effort and tired and cranky tantrum-throwing kids.

So the new leaf? Reprioritizing. Like it or not (for the record, I do like it), I am a mother and I have children. Those children have needs and those needs supersede mine for the moment. Yes, I think that every woman needs time to recharge, to refill her tank. I believe in those selfish moments. But they should be moments, not the make-up of her existence. I think I've been trying so hard to avoid the pitfalls that so many women hit, that I don't realize that they don't really apply to me. I'm not one of these people who runs all day and gives and gives and gives. I run all day, but my existence is very me-centered. So I'm taking a hiatus. I'll keep a project or two on the table, but my days are going to be made up of mothering, not hobbying or even householding. Those things can fill in the cracks. I can learn and develop those in my off-time.

We'll see how long this lasts.


Debbie said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Debbie said...

Since you aren't fishing for compliments...I won't give you any:) Praise God that he sent his Son to fill in all of our cracks. Careers are overrated anyway. You want to find out who you are... your identity lies in Christ! You don't know how many times I have "fished" around to find something...anything that makes my life have meaning or joy, only to realize He is waiting there for me showing me who he created me to be.

The Zickgraf Family Circus said...

Thanks Debbie. You always know how to hit the mark. And you're absolutely right. I've been losing my spirituality lately, and with that loss I've noticed the loss of a great many of my passions-- ironically, the things I think of as "me". So, yes, the only way to be me is to give myself up to Christ. I believe C.S. Lewis said something along those lines.

Melody said...

Right on Debbie! And Right on Sheen! I go back and forth all the time with that balance between mothering full time and taking a piece of myself and indulging in it. If I indulge too much I always find that I loose something greater, but if I don't indulge at all I get resentful. Thus the ebb and flow of personal time. If I keep writing in my journal and making sure I at least write my true feelings even if I don't have time to live in that world, at least I know that authentic self even when she is changing diapers and talking baby talk.
Miss you girl. You always inspire me.

Jessica said...

Thanks for your thoughts...definitely something to think about and good advice for a new mother who plans her day around herself and projects. I appreciated your perspective on the fact some people don't need to work for the self sustaining moments, it described me perfectly. Thanks Tasheena.

Mandy, The Mother of All Chaos said...

What are you talking about? You are a great mother!

Okay, someone had to say it ;)

Romans 12:6 "In His grace, God has given us different gifts for doing certain things well."

You are a rockstar.