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Wednesday, January 21, 2009

The Continual Process of The Art of Contentment

I have come to the conclusion that the question, "What do you want to be when you grow up?" is highly incorrect to pose to a person of any age. Perhaps a more appropriate question would be, "What do you want to look back on in your life when you are old and wrinkly?" It is understandable that we need direction, a focus for our lives, but nowadays when it seems anything is possible and folks change professions several times in their lives, it should be more a question of who do you want to be when you grow up, rather than what.

This philosophical ponderance (my own word, I believe, since spell check keeps underlining it) stems from my ever-changing perception of what I am becoming as I "grow up." My ideas of being a mother and what that role means are mainly the issue. In the last several months I have battled with the feeling that I am forever stuck as a housewife, cleaning up perpetual messes, changing diapers, fixing meals and buying groceries. I kept thinking about that question teachers, parents, relatives and friends always asked, "What do you want to be when you grow up?" "Well, not THIS," I thought to myself. So I began looking into options outside the home where I could exercise my talents and receive validation from someone other than my border collie and toddler.

Writing up my resume, I surprised myself with my past accomplishments. I had felt that there was nothing exciting about what I'd done with my life and that I had simply fallen into the unextrodinary role of housewife and mother with no future. Reading through my resume, I was satisfied and even proud of myself. Now I was off to reenter the workforce and, quite honestly, who wouldn't want to hire me? Talk about a healthy self-esteem...

I looked through the classifieds for several weeks and applied to a few positions, but as I compared cost (monitarily and relationally) of paying a babysitter to care for Wilder and how much I would net in the end, the idea of working outside the home looked less attractive and I began to take greater note of the enjoyment I received from spending time with my son. I love having lunch together and playing around the house. I enjoy being able to take the best possible care of him and making memories together. I have learned that naps are more important than errands, and playtime is more valuable than, well, many things. The more I paid attention to what I do as a mother and housewife, and the higher quality I strive for in this role, the most satisfied I am.

But one more thing helped me gain a more contented attitude. I realized, thanks to a dear friend, that life does not end with babies (as I had so mistakenly thought.) I will have much more life to live after our children outgrow my constant assistance and attention. In many ways it feels unfair that the men (typically) get to continue their professions and we mothers are professionally handicapped if we choose to take a hiatus from work in order to raise a family, but what great fulfillment we get out of this choice to be with our children! I may not know much about computers, but I know how to make homemade bread. I may not be an engineer or a political consultant, but I can fix a fine dinner and run the little government in our home. And I may not have my name in lights -now or ever- but to see the huge grin on Wilder's face whenI sing and dance for him is worth millions. Drawing from a previous revelation I blogged about over a year ago, it's not what you do that matters, but how well you do it.

I've decided to thoroughly enjoy and exercise my current role. It is a gift to be home with my son and not have to leave home for a cubicle, like many other mothers are forced to. And I realize that not all mothers want to stay home, which is also perfectly fine. I'm reconciled to not being a lawyer or docotor -at least not in the next 5 years. I'm still okay just being me and have much to be proud of. I can still dream about future professions and know that I am capable of making them a reality, when I want to. For not, I'm going to treasure my family and enjoy the fabulous domestic arts! Besides, it's fun being your own boss.


Anonymous said...

Kelly, I love you. Mama

Roccy said...

I have been thinking about this post all night long!

I just want to say that I struggle with this too. What has helped me is knowing that there are two people on this earth who love my children with all their hearts - those two people are my husband and me. I am so grateful that one of those two people (me) gets to stay home with them and raise them. I could not imagine having someone else care for them who didn't love them as much as I do. I want my children to know that I love them, adore them, and honor them - and I want them to know that on a consistent and daily basis!

Still, it's hard. I miss my old job. Sometimes I'm lonely for adult conversation. Sometimes I don't feel like I do much. I don't have a pile of completed paperwork at the end of my workday to make me feel like I accomplished something. Instead, I have more laundry to do, more meals to prepare and an endless to-do list for tomorrow. But it's worth it.

And lastly - "To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven." One of these days we'll be able to pick up our interests again, one of these days our children will be bigger and able to care for themselves. For now, it's not the season.

Thank you for this post.


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