12 February 2007

Having it all


It has taken me some time to "surrender" to motherhood. In the beginning I often found myself trying to hide it. I suppose I was a closet mom. Lol. For one thing, the toys were always out of sight. When people came over, even those who were childless, they would literally ask, "Where are the toys? You have a daughter, don't you?" (And she would peek around the corner and blow my cover.) And for another thing, I didn't want to morph into a craft loving, WalMart shopping, easy recipe seeking, trendier, less thrill seeking person. If that makes sense.

It's not that I was ashamed. Honestly. It's that I felt like I'd given up on the dream. The dream women have of having it all. And I'd cashed in my bond too early, so to speak. I was 24 when we had our first child... so, not terribly young, but definitely "in my prime". None of my friends had children. Many of them STILL do not have children. I tried to act like nothing had changed, just because I'd had a baby. "Sure, I'm still playing... why I just had a gig last week." (And never mind that it was a freebie.) But things had changed. And suddenly I was on a different wavelength than everyone else. My day was the polar opposite of their days. My responsibilities had changed, my concerns had changed, and my path in life would be forever changed.

I had a difficult time accepting this. My friends and colleagues were travelling,working their way up and gaining exposure without me. I'd see their accomplishments and somehow feel insignificant. I remember my mentor asking me when my daughter was about a year old, "What are you doing with your music?", and feeling ashamed that I had no breaking news for him. That I saw no way to be both mother and professional musician. I knew that he and his wife had found a way to have it all and that I wasn't going to be so lucky. Maybe I lacked desire. Maybe I lacked ambition. Maybe I didn't deserve it. I didn't know. But I felt guilty.

The truth as I can now see it, is that there probably WAS a way for me to be a mother and a professional. But there is no way I could have been the kind of mother I WANTED TO BE, or I was SUPPOSED to be, and a professional musician. Motherhood has set the highest standard for me... higher than my music, or my dance, or my art, or any other keen interest has. And through the years, I've learned to hold my head high and embrace all that comes with motherhood. I no longer hide my "motherness". Or have it in my head that "I can't have it all". I know Oprah recently did a show on this, and although I am not really a fan, I really liked what she said - that "You can have it all, just not at the same time." Definitely true.

Am I justifying my decision to be a mother... a decision I probably made before I was completely ready? Maybe. A little. But, as I'm sure many of you moms out there have realized or begun to realize, the blessings you receive from raising children are tenfold. You can have everything back and then some. And I would never, ever, change that. That's a full life right there. That's a life with no regrets.

20 comments:

Zoe said...

Lei! I think that you are an awesome Mom! Even if it does mean letting go. When I went to your house, I loved how "kid friendly" it was . . . even the little computer table in the corner of the kitchen. You could tell that kids lived there. When I came home, I decided that I too needed to let some things go and accept the fact that my kids were here to stay! LOL! I have tried to make my house more kid friendly like yours! :) :)

Kristen said...

Now that was a beautiful post!! And so very, very true.

This summer, i decided I was going to go back to school and finally finish my degree. As fall approached, and I realized what I was going to be giving up with my children in order to go to school, I decided to once again put it on the back burner because, well, our kids are only young once. I can finish a degree anytime....when they are older.

Morning Glory said...

Once again you've posted something that all young mothers should read. I firmly believe that if we are happy with the choices we make as mothers and concerning the priorities in our life, then we can truly say that we have it all. Happiness and contentment at our position in life is more precious than we can imagine. The really cool thing is that as we grow WITH our life and its choices instead of fighting against them, we are so much more ready for all the new things that come our way with the passing of time.

I hope that made sense.

Kerstin said...

One of the things that has always bothered me about modern feminism is that it isn't about giving women choices anymore. Now it's about having to do everything. There is all of this pressure on women to be super mom, the powerful career woman, a perfect housekeeper, and to have 95 hobbies in between. I think feminism should be about having choices and choosing to devote yourself to Motherhood is a pretty amazing choice. Maybe we can't do it all but having the option to chose motherhood as your first priority is a really special option to have. I can tell from your blog that you sound like a pretty amazing Mom. Thanks for celebrating it.

Lei said...

Kerstin - I am so glad you left a comment! Kerstin is my cousin everybody! Smart woman, eh?

An Ordinary Mom said...

Motherhood is truly the most noble thing a woman can do with her life. Now with that being said, that doesn't mean I never complain or whine or gripe. That doesn't mean that I do things pefectly. That doesn't mean I still can't have an orderly house. And that doesn't mean that I have to give up who I am. I am still me and I want my children to know that.

However, even though having children requires a lot of sacrifices, we truly are blessed ten fold when we devote our life to teaching them. Teaching them that they are good enough. Teaching them that they have divine heritage. Teaching them how to respect and be tolerant of others. And while teaching them, they teach me ... more than I can ever repay them. They teach me how to be more childlike ... more Christlike!

Thanks for sharing your wisdom!

Barb said...

You have just said, and beautifully may I say, exactly what so many women eventually feel. We all had dreams that we let go when we became mothers.

There are women, of course, who manage to juggle both worlds, but I, for one, chose to put everything I was worth into being a really, really good mother. I didn't sacrifice a single thing for it that I regret.

And you shouldn't either. Being a GOOD mother is by far a higher calling. There is nothing in the "other" world you could ever accomplish that reaps more reward than knowing that you have raised good people.

I for one do not feel at all deprived. It's been my privilege to mother my daughters. I cannot imagine anything that could ever have made me feel more fulfilled.

And by the way, before I stepped up on that podium, I really came by to thank you for dropping in on me and leaving such a nice comment. And I hope you'll drop in again. I love your blog and I'll be back. :-)

Linds said...

Hi there... I found you through Morning Glory. Brilliant post, Lei. And one I echo. I have no regrets for making the choice to stay home and raise my children. I made the choice. Me. I was lucky enough to have the option. There are always going to be moments when you wonder if it was the right one, but from the other side, I can say I would do it all again.
I will be back!

Amber said...

I consider myself lucky. I married when I was 30 so had the chance for an amazing career. And because of that, I can thoroughly enjoy and love my role as a SAHM with no regrets.

I'm glad you've found you're own peace and appreciation for the road you've traveled!

Rachelle said...

Beautiful, well thought out post. Being a mom is my most important job and where my success matters the most.

utmommy said...

I had 4 kids by the time I was 24, so things have been way different for me than many of my friends. I had to give up a lot, but knew that I also wanted to be a mom. It's the best thing I've ever done. Yes, I wish I had my degree and could do things that I always wanted, but I feel that in time I'll be able to. For right now, I'll be a mom and try to do the best at it as I can.

Tracey said...

Exactly. You CAN have it all. Just not at the same time. But honestly? I don't think I WANT it all. I think I have everything I want... for the time being. Times will change, and I hope to change with them.

Dawn said...

Thanks so much for stopping by Kev's birthday celebration today. We did have fun when he was little, and we're having fun again, with bad stuff in between. God is so good! Did you get to read what his sister and wife wrote? Really neat.

Thanks for the good thoughts on motherhood!

Maine Mom said...

Yay for moms! This is a great post, Lei. Motherhood IS wonderful, but there are times when we feel like we could be doing something more "important" with our lives...how silly we can be sometimes.
There will come a time when we'll have more time to pursue other interests whether in a career or just for fun, and I think we'll miss these days of taking care of our little ones. It seems far away, but it's not.

Randi said...

I think that I will always wonder what could have been if i had pursued some sort of career. But i do know that the benefits of mothering fulltime are what i want---way more than I want a paycheck or pats on the back. Since my oldest daughter moved out, being at home and homeschooling seems especially important because i am well aware that the time passes quickly!

Morning Glory said...

Stopping back by to say Happy Valentine's Day!

Anna Maria Junus said...

Beautiful post.

I have seven children and have been raising them for twenty three years now. Yes there are times, especially now that I'm single again, that I've wondered "what if I went to school instead and had a career?"

But you know, when my last child leaves home I'll only be fifty four. I'll still have time to do other things. And in the meantime I'm a writer and that is something people retire to do, but I get to do it now and until I'm so old I can't move my fingers anymore. Plus I'll have all those children and grandchildren.

Fabiola said...

Lei,
I am new to your blog and this post got into me. I am a 32 years old woman and I am struggling with the decision to have a baby or not to have a baby and to give up my career.
It was really a good reading for me!!

Fabiola

allysha said...

Lovely. That's so true. There are things that have to go when you have kids. And hopefully you can pick them up again later. And I do like that Oprah quote. It's true that to every thing there is a season. But if you try to fit a whole year into just a few months, you've cheated yourself out of something important.

Lei said...

I am so glad Fabiola... please stop by again!