Josh has always had a hobby he's been working on ever since I met him. He's driven, competitive and focused. I can probably count my hobbies on one hand, and they usually include something free that can be done when I have a quiet moment to myself, after all the other to-do's are ta-done. I've always been more of an introvert, preferring quietly reading a book or watching a movie to pounding the pavement or attending a people-filled party. Maybe it comes from being sandwiched between four boys, or the fact that I grew up in a large family, that makes me that way. Perhaps it's just my nature, I don't know.
When I made the decision to become a mother, it required that certain chapters in my life came to a close, in order for a new chapter to begin. I couldn't have my fingers stuck firmly holding places - bound in the pages of my own interests - because I needed those hands to be a mother. It IS a two-handed work, at least for me!
I used to hold all my babies like this - their bums cradled in the crook of my elbow. One-handed, so I could do something else with the other. Isn't Yaks so cute?
One of my favorite books is called, "Gift from the Sea" by Anne Morrow Lindburgh. It was written by the author while taking respite for two weeks alone in a simple cottage on the beach at Captiva island. She collects five shells: channelled whelk, moon shell, double-sunrise shell, an oyster bed and a paper nautilus, all symbolic of the different stages in a woman's life."What a circus act we women perform every day of our lives. It puts the trapeze artist to shame. Look at us. We run a tight rope daily, balancing a pile of books on the head."(26)
I think we mothers feel that constant war within ourselves of others vs. self, particularly in this day when everywhere tells us that we can do it all NOW, and we should be able to do it perfectly. So many of my girlfriends have been able to strike a beautiful balance - being able to busy themselves taking classes, sewing, crafting, working-from-home, writing books, or training for marathons. I think this is wonderful, and I know they find great joy in being able to do these things in addition to being a wonderful mother. I really look up to them.
Limburgh says, "My shell is not like this, I think. How untidy it has become! Blurred with moss, knobby with barnacles, its shape is hardly recognizable any more. Surely, it had a shape once. It has a shape still in my mind. What is the shape of my life?"
For me, getting sick was one of the best things that has ever happened to me. I know that sounds crazy, but it's true. As I lay in that hospital bed day after day, it forced me to look at my life and myself. I would daydream about the tasks that I used to find completely boring, mundane and tedious. I wanted to be at home, doing laundry, cooking dinner, reading the same story for the sixth time because my kids love it that much. I wanted to just be a mother at home. Perhaps it was almost losing all of that, which made me value it all-the-more. This experience has made me content and happy, and I hope I never lose that feeling.
I read this quote from the movie Bridges of Madison County (never seen it, and I don't really recommend it based on the summary) this week that really sang to me:
"When a woman makes the choice to marry, to have children; in one way her life begins but in another way it stops. You build a life of details. You become a mother, a wife and you stop and stay steady so that your children can move. And when they leave they take your life of details with them. And then you're expected move again only you don't remember what moves you because no-one has asked in so long. Not even yourself."
I still have days when 8:00pm can't come soon enough, and days when I wish I got some sort of tangible paycheck for the work that I do, but for the most part I feel really at-peace with myself, with womanhood and motherhood, and with this season of my life. I've been able to reconnect spiritually through prayer and scripture study, and it has felt good to find that Amy again. I'm healthy and getting stronger. I recently got called as the new Beehive advisor for YW! My kids are learning and growing in their testimonies. I know the day will come when I will need to move again alone and find myself, but didn't Christ say, "He who loseth his life for my sake shall find it"?
Now is my season to stop and stay steady so my children can move, and I suppose that makes me an Ironmom too.