Monday, April 23, 2012

Is Motherhood Enough?

"You're so talented"

I was often told as a child.

"You're going to go far in life!"

I was frequently promised as a teenager.

And yet here I am, employed by two little people that produce snot and drool faster than I can breathe with frustration "I forgot to buy more tissues YET AGAIN."

When I was in high school, I dreamed of someday of playing professionally in an orchestra. Music was my passion- clarinet was my obsession. In my mind's eye, I would not be successful until I landed my dream job of principal clarinetist in a full time orchestra.

I haven't touched my clarinet in months.

I imagined that each week would include several performances that would be doused in spotlights and enthusiastic applause.

I now spend each week slathered in drying baby food, knee high in dirty diapers, and always one step behind on the housework.

I worked hard for that masters degree in clarinet performance, and yet now it's only a piece of paper placed in our portable safe that is buried under a pile of "next size up" clothes in my son's closet.

What happened? Have I failed?

I'm not getting performance reviews- critiques telling me I'm doing an inspiring job-audiences jumping to a standing ovation.

My children clap for each other (sometimes I pretend it's for me). My husband constantly compliments my cooking and my efforts around the house.

But I seem to constantly question myself- is it enough?

Before I became a mother, I was constantly pushing myself towards success. Achievement was my motivation. I visualized my future, and in that future I had a housekeeper and a still-white sofa.

I would love nothing more than to don professional, non-stained apparel and march out the door to a job where I'll be around people who actually talk to me instead of the littles who simply stare back at me with wide blue eyes, keeping all thoughts private for the time being.

A place where achievement is measured; a paycheck is awarded; efforts aren't undone as soon as naptime is over.

But even though that desire oftentimes can be found floating around my head, it only lasts for a fleeting moment.

Yesterday I was thinking how I need to PROVE MYSELF. I need to do something big to show the world that I AM "going far in life". I need to make a difference in something other than the constantly evolving laundry/dishes saga.

And yet, even as those thoughts graced my tumbled intellect, I lay on the floor surrounded by scattered blocks and two children happily building with them and I wondered- why do I feel that way?

As Addison giggled and hopped on board for a horsey ride, I smiled in return and did my ab workout/bouncy ride for her. Carter laughed with glee because Addison was laughing- the blocks forgotten.

I sat up while still holding Addison and stared into the beautiful blue eyes that hold so much personality. Her slim body came closer, two arms stretched out and slowly stretched around me. A head graced with pigtails leaned against my arm and tiny hands patted my back.

When the hug was finished, I leaned back to smile and thank her through sign language, and she then leaned in for a long kiss on the lips.

I wrapped my free arm around Carter and pulled him into our circle, and for the first time in a long time, I felt complete.

No rushing around attempting to prove my worthiness around the house. No elaborate (or lack thereof) meals. No 6 mile runs. No book chapters finished.

Just hugs, kisses, toothy smiles and tiny hands patting my back.


And in that moment, I knew in my heart that even if I never get my book published; even if I never become a professional musician; even if I never stand in front of another classroom-

motherhood is enough.

And while contemplating my contentment in motherhood, I knew without a doubt that this is what success looks like for me right now.

Are my six years of higher education being wasted? Am I a failure because I didn't end up in the profession that I originally wanted? Will I wake up in twenty years and wonder what I have to show for my life?

I have two children who are completely my responsibility with two futures to prepare them for. That is truly harder than all of my other jobs combined. It takes intense dedication and a lot more work than I originally anticipated. (insert eye roll at a past version of myself)

It was while contemplating this concept, that I watched this commercial this morning before therapy:
(Thank you, Procter&Gamble for an amazing commercial!)

It made me cry.

I think ambition is wonderful. I so much admire working mothers, because I have been one and I know first hand that it is very difficult to balance all of those plates.

But that's not where I am right now in life, and I'm learning in a new way to be content with the job that was no way in my original dreams for myself.

I would dare say motherhood is the best thing that I have ever done. I have performed with a professional orchestra, but after drinking from motherhood's cup (which ironically, is full of high octane coffee)- I know without a doubt that this is where I'm supposed to be right now.

Whatever talents I might have are being stretched and used in a new way, my potential to "go far in life" is now being doubled through the lives of Chubbs 1 and 2.

I am so thankful that this is my reality, and I am so thankful for this new perspective because fighting against myself and what I think I "should be doing" is exhausting.

Time to relax the tension of the subconscious, revel in the feeling of completion that my children bring me, and oh yes- pick up those blocks.

And you know, life might dictate that I become a working mother again someday, and my perspective will shift yet again because success is an evolving abstract.

But for now? I choose to be content where I am, and agree that despite past struggles,

motherhood IS enough.

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