I’ve been relatively silent, I know. Life. Craziness. Finding it more frustrating than enjoyable to try to write a coherent post. Excuses excuses.
A question I received a while ago has been ruminating, and I decided the most productive way to wrap my head around it would be to
whine about it online get a little written therapy going.
Towards the end of Goo’s treatment, I was asked a question. The kind of question that makes you reexamine your whole life and evaluate every decision you’ve ever made. Not the small ones, but the big ones: Do you marry this guy? Have kids? Work there? Stay home? Are you a Dunkin’ girl or a Starbucks girl? You know, the ones that define who you are.
“When are you going to…you know…do something with your life?”
At that moment, my heart actually ached. Was I really that big of a disappointment? How did that happen? I mean, I’m not winning the Nobel prize or anything, but I’m pretty okay. I definitely didn’t think I was a total failure.
At least, not until I was asked that question. And then, for weeks, I pondered it. I looked at my life in a completely new light. Dean’s List student with a degree in Biology? Yeah, but all you did was teach high school for a few years. For a teeny tiny paycheck. So not worth bragging about.
Loving marriage that survived a really rocky period, because we stood by the commitment we made to each other and sacrificed until we found ourselves madly in love again? Sure. But financially we’re nowhere. We don’t even own a home. So really, what do we have to show for it?
And then there’s that mom thing. Staying home with the kids all day. DOING NOTHING. I mean, it totally worked out when my kid got cancer and I had to quit my job working from home to care for Goo, but again, no paycheck, no career boost, and if there’s one thing cancer doesn’t do, it’s make you rich. Or successful. Such a bummer.
And then, every so often, for months after, it would pop up again. I’m 31. I haven’t done anything. My life is at least 1/3 over and I have nothing to show for it.
And then I hit the brakes.
Because what a load of nonsense.
I’m sure that question came from a place of love, from someone trying to inspire me? Maybe?
Side note: I recently helped with a class that focuses on finding truth, and gaining freedom from all the hurts of the past. One of the things I told the women in my group was that for every lie you hear in your head, speak three truths. (Not my original idea, but I thought it was a great one.) “You’re ugly.” Umm, no. I’m a daughter of the King. I’m created in the image and likeness of God. I am beautiful because I was created with a purpose, and it extends far beyond fine lines and numbers on a scale. Boom.
I then had the crazy thought to take my own advice. So for every negative thought that stemmed from that question, I decided to make a list of things I’ve done that I’m proud of, that are important to me, and that I wouldn’t change for the fanciest career or the biggest paycheck in the world.
I have a gut feeling that if you’re a stay at home mom, or a working mom, or a human being, you’ve struggled with feelings of failure, and inadequacy, and irrelevance.
Punch those thoughts in the throat. And then make a list like this one. IT FELT SO GOOD. Like drinking coffee with full fat milk. And not even feeling bad about it.
What I’ve done while I was busy doing nothing.
- Overcame suicidal tendencies as a teen by clinging to a faith in a God who was bigger than my sorrow (boy has that been helpful over the years)
- Despite watching my mother die of cancer, being left by my father, and having a healthy dose of emotional scarring in the first 20 years of my life, I kept a level head on my shoulders – no drugs, no drinking (prior to children. Blame them), no crazy boy stuff – other than marrying a guy who once shaved “DUM” in the back of his head. But hey, nobody’s perfect.
- Worked my tail off – through 4 months of all day/every day “morning” sickness – going to school full-time, doing research part-time, and working 30 hrs/wk – to earn my degree.
- Volunteered my time, love, and life experience through various ministries through the churches I’ve attended. I’ve done that since I was 15. For 16 years I’ve volunteered with children’s, teen, and adult ministries, ranging from changing diapers to providing counseling. I hope that wasn’t nothing. Because it really felt like something kind of awesome.
- I put on my big girl pants and made life choices that totally contradicted what everyone else thought was best – and I’m kind of crazy happy about that, because those choices made me crazy happy. So there.
- I know you’ve heard it all before, but I have to say it here – I, alongside my family, saw my little girl through cancer. I cleaned up her vomit too many times to count. I advocated for her. I spent every 3 weeks, for a year, totally reworking everything we ate to promote her health and changing taste that resulted from chemotherapy. I shaved her head, and cried with her when she thought she was ugly. I told her she was beautiful until she believed it. I held her through every needle. I gave her injection, after injection, after injection – because I knew that making her cry would save her life. I made time for my other girls, all the while juggling guilt for not having three of me to share. THAT was not nothing.
- I ran into the ocean in the dead of winter to raise money for an organization that helps families of children with cancer.
- I trained for, and successfully completed, a 5k. I trained all summer, then ran the actual race during a freak cold front that dropped the temp to 34 degrees. My lungs burned, I produced far more snot than any human being should produce, and I was slower than a turtle in quicksand, BUT I DID IT.
- I perfected the art of homemade mac and cheese. That absolutely counts as a lifetime achievement.
This post is totally my way of sticking my tongue out at the people who have made me feel bad about my life. It took me a long time to fight the overwhelming sense that I had failed because no matter what we’ve done, we can’t buy fancy houses and remodel them. We don’t own brand new cars. We can’t even sign our kids up for dance/sports/whatever because we don’t have the money. My sense of self-worth and success was only measured by the things I could own or the money I could earn. So lame.
But you know what? My husband knows he is loved. My kids know they are loved. Punkin walked out of her room wearing 14 different colors and patterns in the same outfit the other day. It’s been her thing since forever. She asked what I thought, and when I said, “Well, it’s definitely you,” she put a hand on her hip, and with a big smile and a little sass proudly announced, “And there’s nothing wrong with that!”
She is confident in who she is, and that who God has created her to be is more than enough. I’m trying to be more like her.
The only thing I can figure is that those who have viewed me as a disappointment or a failure, see me that way because I don’t “work.” But I know who I am in Christ. I know that I am more than a conqueror (Romans 8:37). I know that His grace has always been enough. I know that my value is in no way tied to my bank account.