Up until I actually entered motherhood myself, the common misconception being thrown around the media, movies, books, etc. was that once you became a mother, you lost yourself. There would be nothing you could do but succumb to the inevitable. You would be gone and your life would consist of only the accomplishments of your children and spouse.
Well I call FOUL!!! Bull-honkey!! BOOO!!! HIIISSSS!!! I feel like a lot of that talk was getting going as I was growing up and about to enter motherhood. Everyone is desperate to first get to everything on their to-do list before they have children or they will live with a life of regret and resentment. It put a huge damper on my excitement for motherhood. Would I crack under the pressure and become a shell of my former self? How would I come out of motherhood with some semblance of my old character intact. Yada yada yada.
And then there is this woman, Rahna Reiko Rizzuto, who was featured on the Today Show: Why one woman walked away from motherhood. She decided to pursue a research opportunity in Japan and left her family for 6 months. She then discovered she didn't want to be a mom anymore and simply quit. A story like that would have scared the pants off of me before I had my own children!!
Enter the Faith and Family Live Mom's Day Away. I traveled to Massachusetts along with other moms different backgrounds, circumstances, stories and talents. We all sat in a room listening to talks that struck a chord with each of us. Then during our chats, we discovered more about the women at our table. I sat with a gifted writer and mother of 4, an adventurous mom of 8, an accountant and mom of 5, a former teacher and mom of 3, and another homeschooling mom of 5. Some of us worked, some were stay-at-home-moms. Some loved cleaning, others hated it. Some had to get out of the house from morning to night and others were very content in the house all day.
But not one of the women in the room talked about needing to run away, or not getting what they needed, or losing their identities and feeling a sense of loss. Within the proper context of motherhood (self-sacrifice), all of these women felt fulfilled and happy. Not one of us has perfect circumstances. We all feel the heat of the recession and the rising costs of food. And all of us wish we had more time to sit around and talk uninterrupted. But we work with what we have.
One of the topics for discussion was "What are your gifts?" This was interesting: We had to sit with a group of strangers and start bragging about why we rock. Sooooo awkward! But we stumbled through it, trying to remain humble and accurate. (I was not about to claim cleaning or moderation with food as my gifts!!)
The purpose of this exercise was to recognize our own personal talents and make sure that we put them to good use on this earth. When God brings us up to...uh...*chat*, He's not going to ask me, "Lisa, do you think you did your best to cure cancer?" - it just doesn't apply to me. I can donate money to find a cure for cancer. He wants us to use our own personal gifts and talents.
The biggest benefit of using our own talents is that we feel at complete peace when our gifts are being used. Take Danielle Bean for example: This woman is an author of three books, Editorial Director for Faith and Family, a public speaker, and is a homeschooling mother of 8!!! If she was not using her talents properly, there is no way she would be able to juggle it all. But she is able to juggle it because that is her intended purpose. Her life is not only diapers and cooking. That is an unfair portrayal of moms.
This weekend away highlighted the beauty and variety of motherhood. The notion that "You can have it all and do it all and be everything to everyone" is just silly. But, when you acknowledge and use your talents and gifts, you can really find complete peace and joy in motherhood.
I really wish someone had screamed that a little louder when I was on the spectator side of the motherhood fence...