Saturday, May 27, 2006

The power of "and" and the fundamental question

In the "About" part of my weblog, I write that I'm trying to figure out what I want to be when I grow up. That's a kinda cute way of saying something that's really a problem: I honestly don't know what to do with myself these days. Somehow in the decade of staying home with my kids, I've lost the enthusiasm and curiosity that can fuel feeling alive. So much of what I do comes out of obedience and duty.

I had a good role-model of this growing up. Mom struggled with mental illness and prescription drugs, and Dad did everything. I can remember saying I would NEVER be like my mom, which in my childish thinking meant that I had to be like my dad. And he was the ultimate in self-sacrifice. He worked, he cooked, he cleaned, he did laundry -- he did it all and the only thing he did for himself was play poker with some college professor friends once a month.

Now here I am a grown woman with the luxury of both time and funds to pursue anything I might be interested in, yet something holds me back. I fill my days, to be sure, but it's like the Pareto principle in action: "Work expands to fill the time available to do it." So my days are filled with exercise, laundry, straightening up, classroom work, and waiting, waiting, waiting.

I've been considering finding a life coach to work with, because my understanding is that they can help create the accountability and the action plan to move you towards a life of purpose. Sounds good, right? And I know two people: my birth mother and my sister, who actually went to a coaching school and said it was wonderful. I went on the school's website and found this under the "What We Believe" part:

"The power of and means strongly holding and uniting desirable dimensions that are commonly viewed as divergent: being challenging and caring, rigorously committed and flexible, idealistic and pragmatic, passionately alive and professional."

I have tears in my eyes as I type this, which is, I believe, my fundamental question:

Is it possible to be both a good wife and mother AND have a life outside of being a wife and mom?

My painfully honest answer is this: I DON'T KNOW.


Stacy said...

Leslie, I wish I knew the answer for you because I'm struggling most the time with this question myself. I know several moms that are so happy being mom and wife 24/7 but it's not me. When asked what would you want to do, my answer is "I have no clue". Which I think is worse than knowing that you want to be a wife and mom exclusively. People aren't going to understand this and I'm sorry if it comes across self centered but I think there are alot of women trying to find that right balance. When you get headed in the right direction fill us in, please.

Eileen said...

Of course it's possible, but one thing I think we have to let go of is this idea of "Balance" because there really is NO balance. I remember reading something a few years ago about "life in stages" this stage in my life, I am not working because I am concentrating on the mom thing or whatever, at the next stage my focus has shifted, and so on and so on. That whole idea of balance trips us up...thinking we have to be able to do it all, be everything to everyone. I think you're moving towards a new stage...your kids are getting older so they need less of your attention so you are ready to focus on some new things. It's less about being unhappy with your role as wife and mother, and more about being freed up (because your mom work-load is shifting) to add some new things. Once you open up your mind to the idea, these new opportunities will suddenly seem to be EVERYWHERE.

On online coach I really like is I have never used her "paid" services but I've known of her for years and would like to do it one day. Her motto is "What you do want more of? What do you want less of? What are you going to do about it?" You can sign up for her emails...they're full of excellent ideas and new ways of looking at things. She's got a refreshing, energetic style I like.

Hope all this makes sense!!!

oldLobo said...

Find purpose in everything. Always remember that life is really good, with or without grand schemes.

Think about it: No matter what you do, you will not become a "bad" mom or wife. You haven't done it yet so why would adding in some more interests change that?

Shelly Egan said...

Girl, you are singing my song!

I always had a facination of what it would be like to stay at home with my kids: a clean house always (as if that is possible with a toddler), time to spend with my friends, a clear mind because I wouldnt feel the tug of work and kids, peace because I would have all the time I needed to spend time with God during the day.

I find all of these are a constant struggle to stay focused on. Somedays I feel as though the walls of the house are closing in on me. I believe too it is why I feel I struggle with my own form of depressed feelings.

I hear your call my friend. I dont know the answer... if there is a such thing as balance, I am learning I cannot figure it out.

The weird thing is is I feel tied to this place (my home) and these people (my family) so much so that when I leave to go the grocery store alone, I feel I must hurry home, because it is my DUTY to be with the kids. As if my husband cant handle an hour of me away.... What about when I want to catch a movie with friends. As if.... too much guilt, my own creation I think in my head, but none the less, very real to me. I go crazy with the thoughts some times...

Girl, I feel you!