I've mentioned before how the one - the only - thing I truly miss about my past lawyer life is that the job scored me some ego points. It gave good dinner party, made me feel like I had accomplished something prestigious, even if I didn't much enjoy the accomplishment itself.
And so I bristle when I see references to anyone being "just a mom" - but my internalizing that says something about me, doesn't it? If I weren't secretly worried there was some truth to that phrase, would it be bothering me? After all, I've caught myself using that very phrase when introducing myself.
|photo credit: ziem photography (hi, Z!)|
Turns out I've been giving my choice to stay at home with the wee CEO good lip service but haven't entirely backed that up with belief. I'm still seeking external validation in ways I hadn't realized until last Sunday, when a sermon snapped me out of a funk.
I don't get too into my faith here - I'm Episcopalian, by the way, and also an annoying hippie about trying to respect the religious beliefs / non-beliefs of others - but this message was so resonant with me, and applicable regardless of faith, that I - well, here it is: being you is enough. (Here's the specific verse the sermon discussed if you're interested.) The drive to succeed on the world's terms is natural, it can be a good thing, but it isn't the end goal. The God I believe in loves regardless of achievement.
For someone raised in the faith of Being Polite to Others and Doing Well in School, this is nothing short of revolutionary. You mean, all of those trophies and report cards, that striving to put my mark on a yet-to-be-determined something, that lifelong run for Student Body President, is all for naught?
Not exactly, but I'm coming to realize that "just a mom" - just me & my beliefs, come to think - is enough. Actually, strike the "mom" bit - just me is enough.
Let me explain.
In the absence of external job pats on the back, I've realized I've started seeking it elsewhere - trouble is, in seeking validation for myself I'm not serving the right master. I'm embarrassed to admit it, but - I've been relying too heavily on my feedback here, for example, where stagnation in reader numbers and comments has had me feeling like a failure and questioning whether writing for writing's sake is enough.
I've been taking my fertility struggles as another indication that I'm somehow doing something wrong, not living the "two kids and a picket fence" dream. Not only does it bother me intrinsically because I want another child, but doesn't that put me behind somehow?
I've wondered if this vague dissatisfaction means I should go back to work, but I don't think that's it - yet, at least. I remain open to the possibility, so long as that doesn't involve playing attorney again, but I'm not there. This stay at home stuff is still awesome, even when it isn't.
I know, I know - this is all so outrageously MEMEME #firstworldproblems, isn't it, worrrying about MY PRESHUS FEELINGS when many others have actual, real life problems to contend with? If ego pats are my biggest worry, then I'm doing awfully well and should just shut up already.
Be these big worries or small, though, I can't convey what a relief it is to step off of the mental hamster wheel of achievement, at least during this season in my life. That driven mentality has served me well at times, bringing me to places professionally and personally I'm proud of, but it also has a competitive flip side which has soured friendships and hobbies. In serving the cause of my own glory, I ultimately serve no one.
I'm slowly realizing that the small, unrewarded things - getting dinner on the table, for example, no small feat when a certain wee CEO is quite literally pulling at my apron strings with a shrill "MAMAMAMAMAMA!!!" chorus - are, to me, largely the reward-ing things.
I suppose it's all a part of growing up, isn't it, finding that internal validation as opposed to seeking it in others. If I'm doing my best - inevitably falling short, but trying - with my husband, my friends, and my boy - that is enough. It is.
And now to actually believing these words . . . overcoming thirty-something years of the glorification of Busy isn't a task to be tackled overnight. My inner Type A Minus is rolling her eyes at all of this, questioning whether this isn't an excuse for not having made some sort of cosmic mark.
Overachiever tendencies notwithstanding, every day I want to act intentionally in the ways that really matter - an email to a friend I haven't talked to in too long, maybe, or researching fun new adventures for Master P & me - knowing that they won't land me a mention in the New York Times or anywhere else, for that matter.
My hair isn't cute and my blog hasn't let to that mostly true bestselling memoir, my ovaries are fickle and the only Pinterest-worthy crafts I can do involve sneaking recent purchases into my closet without spousal detection. And that's enough.
I'm enough, you're enough . . . and, sweet Neiman Marcus, this is starting to sound like those old Stuart Smalley "People Like Me!" sketches, isn't it?
I'll trade the accolades for the ultimate things that matter, so long as we can give my ego the chance to catch up - and promise to retire the "just a mom" phrase from our lexicon entirely. Deal?