For this I am thankful… or, the post I almost didn’t write

I know, what do you care about the things I am questioning about about being gifted, or needing to write? You may think I’m just needing to brag. No, really, I’m not. I’ve just spent 4.5 years being a stay at home mom. During that time, most of my brain has laid dormant.

If you’ve ever experienced mommy mush brain, you can sort of understand the sentiment of worrying where your intelligence has gone. You stop to consider if the three years of nursing your last child removed more than just milk and nutrients from your body. You wonder if you’ll ever regain the ability to hold a conversation with anyone over the age of 6.

This entire year has been one of me slowly stirring up the cobwebs in my brain. It started with the advent of my blogs, this one and my other one, The Exploration Station. It has also coincided with the year being my 20 year high school reunion.

I’ve needed to wake up from the slumber I’d been in – the endless days of pregnancy, of nursing, of changing diapers, of cleaning house, of dealing with tantrums and tears (the kids and my own). You wonder two things: how did I get here, and where am I going?

You have this gnawing feeling in your gut that you used to be sharp, but you can’t seem to find proof of it – mostly because you stay at home most of the day and you are beginning to prefer it that way.

You find your ability to communicate with others becomes a little more difficult, and often you say the wrong things, even though there’s good intention in your heart. You accidentally alienate some people you care about, because you think you are defending your principles. Your need to be right somehow came before your need to be kind.

And then, you keep running into people from your past. First the guy you dated briefly when you were 19, then the fellow you used to work with at your first real job. Momentarily you are transported back in time, sharing laughs and embarrassing stories. But then you start to ponder the person you were back then, and the things you have done since then. You inevitably think about the person you have become.

Only the person you are now is just a little bit restless. The restlessness grows inside you, slowly at first. Soon your 20 year reunion is just around the corner, so you want to be prepared to answer the big question: So what have you been doing since high school? Then it begins: what exactly did I do from then until now. I mean, you have the broad brush strokes of the picture, but you realize you are fuzzy with finer ones: the dates, the order of events. You can’t quite remember what year you quit one job and started another, you know they sort of coincided with major life changes, like getting pregnant. But you definitely don’t want to put in the memory book that all you are is a stay at home mom (even if you do believe it’s the noble calling in your heart, you know that not everybody feels that way).

So, you seek out the details. If you are lucky, you not only saved, but you can find all your old records, the high school and college transcripts and awards you might have won. If you are even more lucky, you can find journals you have written, or at the very least some letters you may have saved so that you can read what was going on in your life at the time.

Then you begin to piece together a mosaic of your former self with the snippets you have found from your past. You begin to think that your younger self was a pretty neat person. And then you realize, that you wish to revive the idealism and intelligence you once had, and awaken the parts of your mind that have laid dormant while you care for your little children.

And then one day, you realize that it’s picking up speed. There is an urgency that wasn’t there yesterday. You realize that while you may still have very many good years yet, you don’t want to squander another moment, just in case you don’t.

You realize, as your friends are getting very sick around you (your not-quite-yet middle aged friends and sister having been diagnosed with cancer, all within a years time of each other), that perhaps you don’t have as much time as you thought.

Then the paranoid thinking happens: you think about when is it going to be your turn to be diagnosed with something potentially deadly. Selfish as it may be, when you have three beautiful little girls but dear friends and family around you are getting seriously ill, you realize that you might not be around to see them grow up.

That’s partly the motivation for all the writing and pondering I’m doing. I want to collect all my things in one spot. I’m printing out the posts I have written on this blog. It’s the journal I’ve been wanting for years now.

After going to a wake of the father of a close college friend, I told my husband that what I was planning on doing, and that if something should ever happen to me, I wanted him to save my writings for my girls. So even if I don’t get to see them grow up into happy, well-adjusted, strong women, that they will know what kind of mother they had.

But mostly, I want them to have a realistic picture of the choices of pursuing a career and then choosing to walk away. That while it the choice I made was completely voluntary and made in the best interests of everyone in our family, that it’s very important to know that while it wasn’t always rosy and warm, I have been blessed to have been given the opportunity to slow down and reflect upon what’s important to me. The number one thing of importance to me is that my responsibility to them goes beyond simply feeding, dressing, caring for them and taking them to and from school, but to help them understand just precisely how to make room for both a family and their own personal development.

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2 Responses to For this I am thankful… or, the post I almost didn’t write

  1. joanna says:

    You took the words right out of my mouth… it’s even my 20th reunion coming up. It’s hard not to get depressed and wonder what it’s all been for. But using the pain and doubt to move forward is what makes a strong woman. And *that* is what your girls will see and carry forward into their own adulthood.

  2. raisingsmartgirls says:

    Thanks Joanna. It’s always encouraging to hear that it’s not going to be for nothing, and that I’m not the only one with these kinds of concerns.

    Have fun at your 20th reunion. Hopefully, you will have some good memories to talk about afterward.

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