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“And swift came to my sight
All that I’d lost; a bitter grief to twine
Each deed or love I’d ventured, and to bare
My dreams, long buried, vaulted, and forgot.
I knelt once more by that pale light, to mourn
My young heart’s fire…”
Hermann Miller – “The Shrine”
Life is dull without literature, so I recently signed up to receive a weekly poem from The Curator. (You can sign up here.) The poem excerpted (yes, that is a word, I looked it up) above came in such an email and hit me square between the eyes.
I don’t have a lot to say on the subject, except that several thoughts and events on the subject of dreams and goals pitted against the lack of time and energy in young motherhood have been converging in my brain lately and I’d like to hear what YOU have to say on the matter. After I ramble a bit.
The pictures in this post: everyday moments and beauty – where my creative pursuits and the simple and holy worship of daily life converge
In memory of dreams
Ryan, Hadassah, and I recently attended a weekend retreat for Anabaptist college students. It’s held at “The Castle,” a romantic stone manor house built by an oil baron sometime before there was air conditioning, and is meant to encourage young students who are attending college and trying to keep the faith while doing so. We snuck in because Ryan is technically still in training (gastroenterology fellowship, year 12 of 14 in his education journey).
I left feeling positively middle aged.
I guess I am 25, after all. (don’t laugh) At home I often still feel like a teenager, but rubbing up against fresh youth and vigor I realized that I have more experience and perspective, more responsibility – and considerably less time and energy – than I used to. I always wanted to go to college to become a writer or a counsellor, but when high school triggered a fair amount of latent OCPD, I decided to take a gap year. In that year I started blogging, realized that I didn’t need to go to college to do what I wanted to do, and the rest is history. My history, at least.
Note: I’ve mentioned before that I have OCD. I do have some compulsive behaviors, but after further consideration and the opinion of my medical husband, I’m pretty sure it’s actually OCPD. It’s severe enough that I’m on medication for it (which has greatly enhanced my quality of life!).
I’ve never been a college student. I used to have lots of hopes and dreams, a career and business interests, popularity and a fair amount of success. I still get recognized a lot, either by, “Don’t you have a cookbook?” or “Did you sing in (insert choral a cappella group)?”
But now? Now my days are fairly hum drum, filled with dishes and diapers and constant discipline of a very active 11 month old whom I love to pieces and would never, ever trade. I like house work. My primary calling is to be a wife and mother, and I’m good with that. But at this retreat I found myself self conscious that my calling is inadequate, or at the very least – boring.
I struggled through the nights away from home when my daughter woke several times, not being in her own bed, and the days, in which she was teething and refusing to nap. I missed out on all the workshop sessions fighting her to sleep, that little jack-in-the-box peering innocently and annoyingly over the side of the playpen. But I also got to talk to people who reinvigorated me. Who encouraged me that it is possible to retain part of who I was pre-Hadassah while adding the perspective and – dare I say, refinement? – of motherhood.
Most of the students were single, but I got to observe and talk to the staff, most of whom were married with families and have been through the college journey (one or both spouses). I was reminded that I still have something to offer, and I still deserve to pursue dreams, but I also cannot place my value in accomplishments. I am no less a person now as a mother than I was with a career and aspirations ahead of me. (Thanks to my husband for that reminder.)
Don’t let your dreams get buried too deep(ly), but don’t get hung up on them either.
And then some of Ryan’s young and artsy cousins posted a blog post with beautiful photography of everyday scenes (a la One Thousand Gifts), and I was reminded to carpe diem – seize the day.
I heard Hadassah babbling upstairs, naptime over. I opened the nursery door to a cuteness overload in the form of my “adolescent baby” standing in her crib. So tall and grown up (my heart!), but still adorably innocent with those soft curls, bare baby legs, a pink heart onesie, and a girly pacifier with little bees on it (bought by my mom when Hadassah threw the rest of them down the registers that are still uncovered a year after moving in). It barely covers her grin of delight at seeing me.
Perhaps my lofty goals and concrete ambitions should be exchanged for the simplicity of the holy. Those small moments of faithfulness will be the enduring legacy I leave behind, after all.
On the other hand, dreams are good. They’re invigorating, inspiring, illuminating. They are God-given! Ryan and I talked about some ways that we can work together to give me time to work on the dreams that God has placed inside of me – writing, recipe creation, photography, and business on a smaller scale more for the joy of it than the monetary return.
We’re going to shoot for one night a week that I can count on to be “mine” in which to create. (Not just blogging, but other personal projects as well that are hard to accomplish with a baby, like sewing, or designing photobooks of memories, etc.) I’d also like to find a trustworthy babysitter so that I can have one or several days a month in which to work during the day and catch up on projects that have fallen by the wayside. We weren’t meant to raise children in a vacuum, but in community. Unfortunately right now due to Ryan’s medical training we’re not living close to family, and we’re about 45 minutes away from our church community, but we’ll just have to be resourceful for a few years.
I don’t like to be on the computer a lot while Hadassah is awake, and it’s not easy to concentrate when keeping an eye on a crawling baby either…. I do work on the computer during her naptimes, but those often get eaten up by housework or naps for myself when we’re in a particularly bad stretch of night sleeping.
Those are my thoughts. I’d love to hear from YOU!
- What were your dreams before you entered motherhood?
- How have you kept those alive, or revamped them?
- What practical solutions have you found to both be present for your family but also not lose the talents God has given you?
- What projects are you working on right now?
- Share a word picture painting one of today’s holy moments!
Update: Thank y’all so much for sharing. Being able to hear from such a wide variety of backgrounds and ages and seasons is such a gift. Thank you for the great reminders – and the solidarity. Sometimes it just helps to know that I’m not the first and only to ask these questions.
Speaking of creative words and inspiring literature, I highly recommend Peanut Butter and Dragon Wings: A Mother’s Search for Grace (Shari Zook).
Now please excuse me. My child is awake. 🙂
I’d just like to clarify that I love being a mother and I’m so grateful for the opportunity. As I said above, I wouldn’t trade Hadassah for anything! Motherhood is very fulfilling. I’m just trying to find a balance that also leaves room for some creative projects.
We serve a creative God, and I believe that He is pleased, honored, and gratified when we act in His image and create. May you be blessed in your creativity this week!
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