*By the way, the hardest part of writing this post was finding a picture that would support the lie. Turns out I don’t have a single one that does. So here is a picture of the two people I adore that have turned my life upside down–in the best way*
I have no life.
I tend to have this thought when I am in the midst of the relentless mundane tasks that need to be completed EVERY SINGLE DAY: cleaning, feeding, washing, cooking, and driving for kids who also need dressing, undressing, brushing, washing, wiping, on constant repeat. It is in the midst of “tasking” (as a good friend of mine calls this mind numbing part of parenting life) that my mind likes to torture me by telling me I am a modern indentured servant destined for pointlessness.
Some part of my brain thinks that if my life is not a constant Instagram moment, I better start to reconsider all of the choices that have brought me here.
Even though I know I am not a victim. I know I have a really privileged life. I know I chose to be a mother, to work less, to be home more. I know all of this and STILL.
Sometimes, I think of all the things I’ve given up (just for FUN) since becoming a mother almost seven years ago: traveling alone to remote places, career positioning within the traditional system, connecting with loved ones without interruptions or time limits.
Things like sleep, yoga, and long conversations with friends.
Going out. Whenever I wanted.
Just. Hanging. Out.
Time in nature.
Time alone in nature.
All kinds of things that made my life fun, inspiring, and balanced seem to have been lost in the tornado of babies and mothering.
After considering all of these interesting facts, depending on how much sleep and space I’ve had, or how behind I feel on other aspects of my life, I might conclude: Yup, its true, I have no life. I am doing all the things no one else wants to do, probably for eternity. I am stuck here in the home, isolated, working my ass off, not getting paid, and it may as well be 1950.
It all happens in a split second.
If I can catch it, and see what my mind is doing, I can follow it up with a metaphorical splash of cold water on my face and an appraisal of my life not based on what I fear is happening, but that is actually based in reality, in my actual experience:
I have a FULL life.
Its not that I have NO life since becoming a mother, its that I have a completely DIFFERENT life. And its FULL.
I have changed, and my life has changed, because I am choosing to change it.
The reality is that my life is full of privileges AND responsibilities, and always has been. I don’t get to have one without the other. What makes my life meaningful is ALSO what makes it challenging.
Nothing facilitates growth like having to deal with challenges, especially if they are on the way to inspired visions and aspirations. Mothering is a landmine of challenges that have forced me to grow and change on every level: literally no cell in my body is the same.
Mothering has also been the utmost gift. I am forever grateful I took this path.
Back when I was single and “free,” I also dealt with a good amount of heartbreak, very intense job situations that made me seriously question my career choice, and a lot of questions about where and how I wanted my life to unfold on almost EVERY level. That phase of my life had certain benefits, and certain struggles.
Life before kids was different, yes, but it wasn’t exactly the free and glamorous lifestyle I see from the trenches of motherhood, either.
I forget. I distort reality. I get polarized, as in, “That was easy, this is hard.” But that is not seeing the whole picture. It’s me lying to myself. It’s my mind trying to simplify and quantify something it cannot: how life works.
Some things that I know:
I have to face challenges. That is part of life. And, they help me grow.
I also have support along the way in different forms, at different times. Sometimes, support has been in the form of spaciousness and hours of yoga. Right now, support comes from my loving and encouraging husband.
I chose to be a mother, and actually got to be one. Twice. And I really enjoy mothering, more than I could have ever imagined. In fact, I’m arranging my life so that I can be as involved in my children’s lives as I can.
I choose to work part time so I can be with my kids more. I keep finding through my own experience what the right amount of work is for me. The process has required a lot of communication, creativity, tears, insights, and steep learning curves, but my husband and I are figuring it out.
As a therapist, I know how important the family imprint is on my children’s development. I know the mundane routines and intimate emotional experiences within family life all add up to a sense of what home and family come to mean. All those little/monumental tasks and routines matter, or I wouldn’t be choosing to do them.
When I forget what I am about and what I am up to, I am vulnerable to feeling like my life is not “enough.” The message of inadequacy is so rampant out in the world that we must be deeply rooted in our own values to deal skillfully with it.
I need to know what I value based on my life experiences, emotions, sensations, and values. All of this incredibly valuable information about who I am, and how I need my life to unfold for my own fulfillment, is right here.
The truth comes out when I really look at both sides of my experience. Not just what I like and glamorize, or just the aspects that are mundane, cumbersome, or even worse.
A full life has BOTH.
When I do this, I am no longer riding the roller coaster of my emotions and thoughts, but I am connected to my deep feeling values that can really guide and direct my life.
So simple. So complicated.