Tuesday, July 18, 2006

My Many Hats

(This blog was originally written on May 14th , 2006)

Like most women, I have many roles. I’m a wife. I’m a daughter. A sister, a homeschooler, a scrapbooker, a friend, a Visiting Teacher. I’m an author and I own and operate a bath salt business. I’m a mother.

Of all these roles, the one that causes me the most stress is that of mother. It’s not just the dirty diapers and dirty fingers; that I can deal with. It’s the knowledge that I am preparing these children for their lives here on this earth, that I am laying the foundation for their experiences and their beliefs, and that if they end up in therapy at some point, it’s my fault.

Today, on Mother’s Day, I’ve been thinking a lot about the mother vs. author debate that rages on. I’ve been asked many times how I juggle a writing career and motherhood. The honest answer is, sometimes I don’t. Anyone who has dropped by my house unexpectedly can tell you, I am not getting everything done I should.

I’ve always wanted to be a writer. When I got married and started my family, I assumed that my writing career would have to wait, and I was fine with that. When I had the dream that became the plot for “Nothing to Regret” (see FAQs on my website) it was apparent to me that the Lord didn’t want me to wait until my children were grown, like I’d planned. This really surprised me. Isn’t motherhood the greatest calling? Shouldn’t everything else be put on hold?

I’ve come to realize that the answer to this question is yes and no. There is truly no greater calling than motherhood, as the saying goes. Nothing will ever bring you so much joy. You will never work harder but you’ll never be paid as well. (My currency – my daughter gave me a card she made in Activity Days that said, “My mommy is as pretty as a swan.” You can’t buy how that made me feel.) I love my children with all my heart and I want them to have the very best life I can give them, not so much with things and toys but with experiences and love.

Shouldn’t one of those very best things they have be a very best mommy?

When I write, it’s my downtime. I get to pull back from the constant demands and focus on doing something that fills up my bucket and prepares me for the next round of requests. I’m a nicer mommy, a calmer mommy, a better-to-be-around mommy, when I write.

I’m certainly not perfect and I won’t pretend to be (there’s too much evidence to the contrary) but having that time to myself really helps.

I’ve been asked many times how I manage to stay up so late and write. Don’t I miss the sleep? (Do they not see the huge bags under my eyes?) Yes, I miss the sleep, but it’s mental recharging I need the most, and writing does that for me.

I believe that we were given our talents and that we are to use them. I think it would be a dreadful shame to tuck all our talents away only to pull them out when the children are grown. By then, they’d be dusty and moth-eaten. Shouldn’t we use them now, while they’re still fresh?

Of course I’m not suggesting that we all ignore our children while we lock ourselves in our bedrooms and focus solely on building up careers. I’m very mindful of the advice Brigham Young gave his daughter Susa: “If you were to become the greatest writer, the most eloquent woman speaker, the most gifted and learned woman of your time, and had neglected your home and your children in order to become so; if, when you arise on the morning of the Resurrection Day, you found that your duty as a wife and a mother had been sacrificed in order that you might pursue any other duty, you will find your whole life had been a failure.” (Susa Young Gates, “Editor’s Department,” Young Woman’s Journal, 5 (June 1894) : 449).

What I’m suggesting is that we take a few minutes each day to remember that we are choice daughters of God, that we were given hearts and brains and hands and eyes for reasons that extend beyond our wildest imaginings, and that we should keep ourselves as recharged and energized as we can, for our children’s sake. They will be much happier when Mommy’s feeling at the top of her game. They will learn more from us as we strive to keep our minds active by study and reading. As they see us take half an hour here and there to develop our talents, they will want to develop their own. We were given our talents to serve God. Let’s begin serving Him now instead of waiting for things to slow down, because they never will and we might find countless opportunities to serve had passed us by.

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