It was a picture that sent me on the chase, a deep dive down eleven years of blog archives of my personal blog to see if I could find the one shot out of hundreds I thought I remembered. For the record, I never found it.
But what I found instead were memories, stories and photos of things forgotten; some hard, some strange, and many heart-warming–details I hadn’t wanted to forget, recollections I knew would make me smile years later. And they did make me smile. So much!
I also found myself there, or at least the girl I was then, in bits and pieces, in those stories. I’ve lost that girl over the past few years, and I’ve been lamenting to Tahd lately that I hardly know who I am beyond diaper-changer, dinner-maker, and house-picker-upper. We could also add laundry-doer to that list, except laundry-doing isn’t so much my forte, which is clearly evidenced by the fact that my little children haven’t had matching or fitting socks in several weeks because they’re all buried in the Mount Everest-sized pile of clean (and dirty) laundry in my basement. The only consolation is that spring is coming. Right? Even to Wisconsin? So just hold on, Chicklets! (Yes, I have affectionately nicknamed my children after gum…) If you can make socklessness work for juuuuussttt a few more weeks (or maybe two months on the outside since this is Wisconsin), you should be set! Barefoot, but set!
But I digress…
I was saying how my functional identity is basically that of a Mother/Sherpa, the doer of All The Things who doesn’t even end up having time to get All The Things completed for my family for one day before it’s time to start All The Things for the next day.
There’s been a new stirring in me this last month, though, almost like a boundary I’m starting to set. I love my family and will sacrifice upon sacrifice for them when needed. But I realized I’m getting it all wrong.
I’m sacrificing my very core for their convenience, not their needs.
I’m doing, doing, doing for them what they need to be learning to do for themselves and one another.
I’m depriving them of the model of a mother who knows her own value and demonstrates that by caring for her own soul and body. How will my children learn to take proper care of themselves if their own mother doesn’t take proper care of herself?
I’m cooking and laundering and cleaning myself because it’s faster and simpler, but we’re missing the joy of us working side-by-side and of them growing toward competence.
I stopped working out because there just never seemed to be time, and if there was time, there were certainly more pressing matters than going for a run. Yet, what meaning do they ascribe to my lack of physical activity? How does it encourage them to think about their bodies and the hows and whys of how they take care of themselves?
So many things I do out of their sight because it’s more convenient for me. As I mentioned, they don’t see me exercising. They don’t see me reading. They don’t see me doing any spirit work like personal devotions or prayer. They don’t see me writing. They never see me meditating. They hardly see me taking photos aside from quick snapshots. They don’t see me dredging my soul with my journal over a cup of tea. They don’t see me connecting with friends. I only harvest the low-hanging fruit when they’re around, and the low-hanging fruit doesn’t make for a very rich life.
I want my children to live luscious, joy-filled lives of abundance–not so much the abundance of material possessions, but an abundance of the soul, a generosity of spirit. I want their lives to be as bountiful in connection as their introversion or extroversion demands; deeply meaningful, even amidst life’s daily mundane; generous in curious spark and a passion for learning; grounded through intervals of rest and sabbath. But if they don’t see me living this life, how will they ever learn to live it themselves?
I’m not sure of the answer to this question, but I have been doing a few things differently. For instance:
I’ve dragged them to my dank basement while I ran on the treadmill. (Note – not fast, not far. Basically, I call it running on the technicality that, per dictionary.com, “for an instant in each step, all or both feet are off the ground.” Granted, they also note that it’s called running since it is faster than walking, and I’m not sure this is true for me. We’ll go with the two feet off the ground thing, mkay?)
I started telling them (once in a while) that we were nixing the Frozen/Barney/Dragons/Minecraft music in the car to listen to Mommy’s music. (For the record, Sara Groves, Jordan Smith, and Josh Groban. I am so old…)
I’ve set myself in front of my writing nook a few times to journal (as much as I can) while they play (and scream) around me.
I’ve set out my book and read a few pages here and there even though the work of home-keeping isn’t yet done.
Each little action seems to beget another, and it intuitively feels like I’m moving in a healthier direction. So since I’m a Meyers-Briggs intuitive, I’m trusting that sense to see where it takes me. I’m hoping it leads me to the place where I learn how to incorporate a little more of the joy and freedom I felt when I was the woman in those pictures.