September 20, 2017

things I could be (someday)...

things I could be (someday) | yourwishcake.com
Several years ago, a family friend of my husband's stopped by our place for a quick visit while he was in town. He was a bit younger than Jay—early twenties, if I remember correctly, and busy coming up with plans for the future. At some point in the conversation, he asked me what I do, and I answered in typical fashion.

"Oh, I'm just doing the mom-thing right now."

This question always makes me feel slightly awkward because it's hard to know how to answer without downplaying the legitimacy of being "just" a mom and not also having a career. I always feel this rush to justify my choice or casually try to throw in how, yes, I actually feel quite fulfilled by my choice. But there's really no way to keep this conversation going with most people after I admit to not also having some sort of career. The question and interest stops—which I fully understand makes sense, because there isn't really a question as to what fills my days and what the role of full-time mom looks like for most women.

In reality, rarely is the person passing any sort of judgement or assuming I should want to be doing something more, but I always feel that expectation in the back of my mind during these conversations.

During this specific conversation, though, I was surprised to be asked something else. After I told him about doing the mom-thing, he hardly paused before asking something to the effect of, "What do you think you want to do after?" I remember how much that caught me off guard. First, I was rather shocked (and impressed) that a twenty-something male was interested in the hopes and dreams of a stay at home mom he had just met. Second, I honestly couldn't remember ever having been asked that question before, or even really thinking about it. As I assume it is with many women in the trenches of motherhood, at that time it was hard to look beyond the next five years or so and think about what the years ahead would hold beyond the diaper stage and the broken sleep I was still getting every night...let alone when the kids are grown and off on their own.

He went on to say how it has been pretty amazing to see the things his mom went on to do after first choosing staying home with him and his brother during their childhood and school years. He said she now works in the travel industry, is always on the move and is pretty much traveling the world now. He took the time to say how great it was that she chose to invest herself fully in them during her stay-at-home years, but also how great it was to see her do all these unexpected things during this new season of her life.

For years, this conversation has been replaying in my head. I doubt he or my husband even have any recollection of this relatively tiny snippet of small-talk, but it really left a lasting impression. Most of all, it was reassuring to me as a woman drowning in a culture that holds so much weight in the idea of doing it all. And not just doing it all, but doing it all now. There is no compartmentalizing any part of your life—it's about accomplishing as many of your aspirations as possible, all at once. I personally feel like the overall sentiment is something to the effect of: If you aren't working toward your dream right now, then what's the point of having your dream at all? Personal and professional aspirations seem to always edge out the less glamorous parts of life (most notably, motherhood—surely the least glamorous thing most of us will ever do in our lives, yet, dare I say, one of the most important).

I'm not in a rush to speed through to the years of early motherhood and beyond, just to get to the point where I'm free to pursue other ventures. I don't feel like making this very personal choice has somehow hindered me as an individual, and I hold the (unpopular) opinion that losing myself a little in my role as mother and within my service to my family has been a good thing for me. To put it simply, motherhood has humbled me in a way that keeps me grounded, centered, tethered to something more than my own fleeting, selfish thoughts and emotions.

But I do sometimes think about the possibilities that are out there. When the kids are grown and I'm no longer dedicating the majority of my daily hours to raising and teaching my children. What then? Is there something I will want to do? Something I haven't done before?

By nature, I am not a busybody. I don't like having a full social calendar, and I hate when there is little blank space within the span of a day. But I do like feeling accomplished, and knowing I'm doing something that matters every single day. (Even if at this point in life that sometimes looks like shopping for groceries, dusting the staircase and reading aloud to my daughters.) I wonder how I will fulfill that need once it's just my husband and I, and the kids are grown and off to pursue their own adventures beyond the walls of our home.

When this last baby turns 18, I'll be in my early 50s. I remember the days when 50 sounded ancient, and now I can't help but realize just how young that is.

Maybe I will go back to school and study nursing. I never would have considered this in my younger years, but something about growing older and experiencing motherhood has made me much less woozy and bothered by things a nurse may possibly face on a day-to-day basis. I am compassionate, I am passionate about learning, I love the idea of helping people. I could honestly see myself pursuing this and absolutely loving it.

Maybe I will write. Maybe I will write a book, or some sort of curriculum (should we continue homeschooling and I have many years of teaching under my belt), or share my heart in some other way. I've always wanted to write a book of essays about my life that I would publish myself and give as a gift to my children.

Maybe I will travel and do missions work through our church. I never had the opportunity to do any sort of missions as a child or teenager, and it's something I've always, always wanted to do. I can't imagine leaving Jay for long periods of time, but I'd love to periodically take time to travel and meet people who live in a reality much different than my own and (above all) share the gospel with those who may never hear it otherwise.

Maybe I will study and learn a new art. I could paint, learn more about photography, or try something I've never even considered doing before.

When it comes down to it, it's not as though all these things have to wait until I'm an empty nester, and I realize there are steps I can take toward many of these aspirations long before the day I have more time than I know what to do with. But I don't feel this rushed desire to consistently be checking things off a to-do list in order to reach these goals as soon as possible. I know the time will come when pursuing something beyond my regular day-to-day won't stress me out or feel like some sort of unnecessary pressure. Sometimes, just the realization that there will be more time for these things someday is enough.

My thirties have already been filled with so many good things...I can only imagine what my forties will hold. If anything, one thing I've become sure of within the last few years is that doing what I do now is enough. It's not always about rushing forward to the next step, the next big thing, the next great accomplishment. Being satisfied with a simple life doesn't make me unambitious, apathetic or boring. For me, it means being content. It means I can focus squarely on what is right in front of me...my marriage, my children, my faith, my home. And finding contentment within these average, everyday things means I won't feel that they are taking me away from something else I hope to accomplish in life.

After all, there is time. Not everything I dream of doing must be accomplished within a five year plan. There will surely be time for it all someday.

— Further reading: where we belong

6 comments :

  1. As a mom of young kids and as a working professional, "having it all" actually really blows most of the time. My husband is a high school teacher. If we could afford to live off his income, I would stay home while our kids are little. I would LOVE to. I personally think you are very, very lucky to be able to do so. I am the only working mom in my close friend group and I really have to quelch down the jealousy sometimes. I hate the feeling that I'm always on the run, rushing to cobble together something for dinner (when was the last time I went grocery shopping??) before soccer practice (and often just getting junk fast food instead) and being so exhausted at the thought of cleaning the house once the kids are in bed and all the work I've already done...well, the cleaning waits longer than it should.

    There will absolutely be time later in your life for a career. There won't be time in mine for my kids to be little again. I grieve that every day.

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  2. I love that you have this mindset, Kerri!
    I hope that your putting this in writing will continue to remind you of the wisdom of your perspective.
    Love you!

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  3. You have the perfect attitude, Kerri.

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  4. This is an Inspiring post.

    I can really relate. I spent last year trying to get a small business off the ground while being a stay at home mom to my toddler. A year later I've changed course and decided to focus on just the mom stuff for many of the reasons you allude to in your post. I look forward to a new career someday but learning to just stay present.

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  5. This is such a lovely, wonderful, inspirational, powerful post - & I love that it started with a simple conversation years ago. Sometimes it's those ones, the ones others likely don't even remember, that stay with us, that drive us, that change us. Whatever you are - now & in the future - I look forward to continuing to follow along.

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  6. This is one of my favorite things I've read about motherhood in a long time. Thank you so much for sharing. I think I'll start asking other moms what they want to do "after" too.

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