Sunday, September 20, 2015

I'm Nobody. Who are you? Are you—Nobody—too?

Overall I enjoy motherhood. Sure, it has its ups and downs. It has its perks and its abysmal trenches of fluid-filled agony (anyone who's ever had the stomach flu pass through a household of children knows this). It can bring laughter, it can bring tears. It's rarely ever easy, but it's a station in life filled with so much joy. And I love all my children dearly.

But sometimes I wonder, "What am I doing with my life?"

And what will I do when they're all in school?

And what will I do when they all leave home?

Because goodness knows I'm not going to buckle down and organize my house.

I'm something—someone—beyond a mother. I realize that being a mother isn't something that ever goes away, but I was a person before I became a mother. I did things—cool things—before I took on a full time role of "walking kleenex" and "carrier of goldfish."

I like to think that I've done things—that I do things (cool things!)—as a mother as well.

But sometimes I feel like the "me" inside has been swallowed up by caring for others (or, more likely in my case she drowned in milk, because let's be honest...) and I don't necessarily think that's a bad thing because I've stretched and grown so much since becoming a mother and I don't think I would ever chose to go back to being who I was before. But, still...I'm more than "just" a mother.

I had the privilege of lunching with a group of women from my ward. Some of us were young mothers. Some were newly weds. Some were divorcees. Some were on the road to being empty nesters. There was quite a range of experience at the table. Someone mentioned that a grown child was having a problem and they wished they could just put a bandaid on it and kiss it better...but that they couldn't because the problem was real and complex. Their child had outgrown momma's magical fixing powers.

Another sister (who raised quite the brood of children herself) said, "Let's keep things in perspective, though. Grown up children have more complicated problems but small children have constant problems. They need you all the time. They don't even let you go to the bathroom by yourself. And that's just exhausting, to be honest."

"It's funny," said another nearly empty-nester. "You devote years of your life trying to raise your children to be independent adults, and then they leave and you say, 'Now what?' You're just lost. You want to say, 'Wait! Come back! I don't know what to do without you!'"

And so, what am I doing with my life?

Not with my childrens' life.

I don't even know.

I went to that writing class today because I like to write and the idea of writing a book has always been jumping around in my brain. I enjoy writing. But I don't know how to write a book.

Anyway, I'm so glad I went to that class. The woman who taught it has six children and she didn't really start writing—with the goal of being published—until her youngest was two and she knew there wouldn't be any more babies coming along. She said she felt so addled by children that she couldn't do anything with her time but then she had that last baby and there wasn't another coming to further addle her brain and her head began to clear and she began to be able to...focus on things.

Part of me feels like that's really a thing that would happen because these sleepless nights—I tell you!—they really do addle your brain a bit, and while I think it would be nice to wait until that point in my life, I'm not sure that I need to necessarily. I mean, there's no harm in trying something now.

But the other part of me—the part of me that wants to curl up in a ball and sleep for a thousand years—is happy to know that if I fail I can always pick up again later when there isn't a tiny being 100% dependent on me draining away all of my brain power.

So, one day perhaps I'll write something more than the ramblings of my sleep-deprived brain, but until then at least I know I'm working toward my 10,000 hours of required writing practice.


  1. Your practice will put you in good stead when you are ready to take an idea and run with it! And I hope that baby Z decides to settle down a bit so you can feel less addled!

  2. This can be such a difficult thing. After having Gareth I felt a lot of resentment that Ryan's life had changed so minimally while mine was destroyed. I said to him, "When do I get *my* life back?!" I took years to figure out what I wanted to do. I had to let go of a dream that I'd had for so long, which was difficult. And overcome some inertia and self-doubt. Starting back to school was terrifying and then Mal cried at his sitter's through every single class for an entire quarter and I wondered if I'd jumped back in too soon, was it not good for him? And I feel so lucky that I get a second chance to choose something, but also terrified that, despite loving classes so far, maybe I'm choosing wrong. And having invested so much time and money into it, I feel a lot of pressure to get it right and so picking something to stick with is terrifying. And every once in a while I'm slightly bitter at the privilege that Ryan takes for granted - that his career was put first, that he got to focus solely on school and not housework and kids and school all at once. But it's been worth it. It's amazing to have time without kids, to have an identity that doesn't include them. And I'm so excited that the kids get to see me as more than "just" mom as well. I'm glad I didn't wait until they were grown, but it was worth it to take a few years to come to terms with changing directions and figure out what I think I want to do with my life.