Go HERE and read her article. If you’re pregnant or nursing or sensitive.. have a tissue. I’ll wait… okay. Did it make you cry? When I read it, tears fell heavy into my lap. No sobs, just heavy tears. I feel like this is a life changer. Or it should be. I want it to be a life changer for me. If you haven’t known me forever, or you’re new here, or I’ve just not had full disclosure. Let’s just say my folks wanted me to be a doctor. They thought ‘ you’re so smart’ but that was never in the cards for me. So my whole life I’ve felt like I’ve let everyone down before I ever wake up in the morning.
In my grade school literally from Kindergarten through the end I never fit in. I had a close friend or two each year but nothing continuous and I never seemed to gain any traction with anyone other than adults. I always felt so introspective and worried and wanted to do the right thing, and no one, I mean no one else ever acted like that, not even as 12th graders. They were so hell bent on being bad and proving people right, or wrong, whatever the case may be. No one wanted to just toe the line and be friends and get along. Flash to college, where people from all over made the jump to university and were determined to just get along and learn and grow and explore, and were willing to accept you WHERE YOU WERE and HOW YOU WERE and EVERYONE IS OKAY. Needless to say I ADORED college. It didn’t seem to matter who I met, they might have been a little odd, but everyone was pretty much okay. I had several friends across different groups. I still keep in touch with a handful on Facebook, via email, etc. and get together with some once a year or so either at our alma mater or someone’s house. It’s like we never left, but of course the shadows under our eyes and the roundness of our figures post-baby tells a different story. In between now and then I feel like I’ve had this slow… decline. Graduating with a degree I thought ‘this is it the world is open to me’… but it didn’t turn out that way. The only jobs I was eligible for were the same I would have been eligible for WITHOUT a degree, but maybe getting paid $1 more an hour. What?!? My husband had been in the military and decided while I was working to go to college. Between his military benefits and education credits, and a couple of semesters paid for through my job, he blazed through in 3 years. During that time I recalled how great college was compared to my dead end job. Don’t get me wrong, I excelled as an administrative assistant. I remembered everything for my bosses, saved their skins, kept them on schedule… but it also held me back. I tried going for a different position which would have been a double in pay at least and put me on track for a much better career. But my then boss.. well he appreciated my help too much and begged the other person not to hire me (the hiring person told me that anyway and I have no reason to doubt).. so the hiring person of course hired someone else. Less than 6 months later, my boss was off to another job and I was left hanging in the wind, with no promotion and making less than current minimum wage. Mind you, it was IMPERATIVE that the job holder had a degree, but yet making pennies more than minimum wage. Talk about frustrated. But I was needed and appreciated. But I wanted more. I wanted to be back at college, making a difference, changing lives. And the bars slammed down again and again. I worked in between but never got into grad school. I was ‘not smart enough’ or ‘not a good fit’ and hit brick walls and glass ceilings and my husband graduated and we moved on….
But I felt empty and shattered and frustrated. He was in his first post-college job and ready to start a family. He was angry with me for dragging my feet. I wasn’t ready. I wanted to make it work. I wanted to be able to tell my kids ‘look mommy had it ALL’. But it’s a farce. It’s not a reality. You can’t have it all. Not all at once. Certainly not all at once. I know there are some CEO’s who run a business and still make it work, but I’m not them, and they are not me. Maybe the Lord gave them more. I’m not sure. I can’t see past the dishes and the laundry and the endless requests for drinks and cheerios. A few times I’ve had glimpses of this sort of thing and considered going back to work, but it never felt right. There was always something holding me back. I always wanted if I had kids to stay home with them. So there’s no anger or frustration there, I chose that long ago. I wanted to have a career and then gracefully take a break to be with the kids and then go back… but that just..didn’t work out.
The problem is in the fact that there is zero appreciation for a mom’s job. Not online. Not in real life. There’s forced thank you’s for things, but that’s not the same as being appreciated at work. Somehow it’s been ingrained in our subconscious that kids smiles and laughs are not enough. They’re nice but they’re not accolades or a paycheck and the kids don’t remember the next day that you saved their skin or kissed their boo boos or read to them. It’s all about the moment for them. It’s all about now. And it doesn’t matter if you’re tired or hungry or have to go to the bathroom. Their needs are more important and it’s FRUSTRATING. It’s the same thing day after day with the ungrateful beasts who are struggling to learn so much all at once and take out their own tiny frustrations on the one who loves them the most because she is THERE ALL THE TIME. It makes me feel like an utter failure because so many many doors were slammed in my face because I was so needed elsewhere or someone else was ‘better suited’ aka I suck according to them. It really made me figure that perhaps my calling was ONLY to be a mom. But the article I pointed to…I mean you get it, right? I feel like I stink everywhere, but then the kids don’t seem to appreciate me either. Do I suck at EVERYTHING? Am I even less suited for parenthood than a career? More than once I’ve cried, hidden in the bathroom because I wake up as an immediate failure with a cranky pre-schooler, a wet toddler who didn’t wake up enough to use the bathroom and horrid pregnancy hormones. Everyone’s unhappy including me and I’m praying ‘God.. WHAT!?! Why?!? If my calling is not with my kids, where is it? What am I to do? Send me. Lord. Send me.’ then wipe my eyes, blow my nose, splash water on my face and go back out.
It really makes me think. Maybe I’m just not looking at it the right way. Maybe I am sent for this. Maybe it’s just harder because there IS no appreciation. Or maybe I’m just not appreciating the appreciation I get. Maybe I’m not living in the moment enough. Maybe when I’m desperately reaching out for adult contact, I should be reaching out for my kids. It’s a bad bad un-balancing act. I would not trade my life or family for anyone or anything. I cried at negative pregnancy tests. I held a lost fetus and cradled it in my hand and wondered at life and why it should be lost so easily. I pray over the grave of that baby and snuggle my little ones tighter for a little while. Some days are so hard and so good and so blah. Some days I just want to see what other people are doing and get frustrated when my ‘quiet time’ aka computer time is lost. I don’t begrudge my children that time. Days go so slow and the years so fast and I hit the bed and miss those kids that I did things for ALL. DAY. LONG. but I’m so glad that they’re sleeping soundly and breathing deeply and dreaming good dreams.
They ARE enough. Am I showing them that they are enough? Is it too late to show my 5 year old who has been so smart and so frustrating all at once how much I love her? Is it too late? Will she never love ME enough? I don’t feel like I’m loved by her. I’ve given up everything and she persists at being angry and upset over nothing. How do I know she loves me? My middle one smiles and says thank you with a beaming look and my baby nurses and burps and laughs and smiles with a giant open mouthed smile. But will they too become sullen and upset and never happy? Will I live in a house full of kids who hate me? Will all my running for cups of cheerios and sips of water and buying special things JUST for them mean anything? Most days it doesn’t seem like it. I really want it to. I do. I want to be there fully. I want them to KNOW I am there fully and love them. That they are enough. Good days it feels like that. It feels just like that. Everyone is happy. But when the grumps come out.. it just makes me feel like a failure all over again. Like no one wants me or loves me or that I’m hitting more walls and ceilings because people did this without technology and raised happy healthy kids. Parenting isn’t the same. There’s so much judgment and ‘I would never’ and ‘how dare you’ out there. Despite wanting to break free from the stereotypes and shoulds and mustn’ts…I just feel like I can’t.
I want to be enough. Finally. For someone. I want to be enough. Maybe in making them feel enough, I will feel enough. If I put in 100% and not 80 (the other 20 going to my own pursuits) will it make a difference? Am I looking at my calling all wrong? Is it in serving that it’s enough, whether they appreciate it or not? Should I take heart in the serving of these kids and not the outcome? Is it enough that I give and not that the gifts and service are loved? I keep looking for more ways to serve, but maybe I’m just missing the 3 little miracles that need my service despite how it makes me feel.
I’m working it out. Today I will serve. I will joyfully serve.
There’s my littlest now. Who slept all night and also let me blog. Bless her heart!