Thursday, November 19, 2009

Missing Girl

Once upon a time there was a mountain girl who dreamed big dreams. She dreamed of traveling the world, learning three languages, blazing a pioneer trail to some remote village to share the gospel and help those in need, living an independent life, and then returning home to get a PhD in comparative literature, settle down, and have a family. She had passion...for God, for adventure, for learning, for life. She was good at what she did, got scholarships and awards and recognition. She could have made a career of teaching literature and writing scholarly papers. And if she had chosen not to, it would have been because she was called to something even more exciting. Then she graduated college, got married, finished grad school, had a few kids, and lost herself.

What? This is your story, too?

I am feeling a bit lost right now under the pressure of caring for three kids, taking care of the household and finances, and trying to prepare for an overseas move. All of those adventures I longed for and thought I was called to are coming to fruition is some ways, but the girl that I was when I dreamed those dreams is buried...if not lost completely. Now I am going as a wife, a mother, a cook, a maid. I fear that my life overseas will look exactly like my life here. That my ministry will still be limited only to my family. I know my family is my primary work right now, but I long for there to be something more, too.

Invisible. That's how I feel. Anyone else out there ever felt this way? All of the ways I used to define myself are no longer valid. And I have not done a graceful job of accepting my current roles. I am finding myself bitter and tired and angry much more than I would like, and I am not sure how to change things.

I tried the good "Christian" way (at least in some Christian circles) of accepting my vocation as a mother and doing that job well. And it has been very good for me to think through how I run the household and how to order our family life. I am not saying that staying at home and being really good at being a mom is a bad thing. It just isn't working well for me, and the culture around me and my own inner voice tell me that it is because of some character weakness. There are plenty of weaknesses that I am aware of (and many more I am not), and I do want to work on those and become a better woman and mother.

But something tells me that no matter how much God matures and changes me and fits me for motherhood, I will always desire something more. That mountain girl who longed to do something with the brains and passion God gave her is still in here somewhere. Certainly, there are plenty of outlets for using my skills and passions in homemaking and parenting, but my heart says that I am not ever going to be satisfied staying at home. God has called me to that, but He has also called me to other things, too.

I think I am needing some wisdom from you other women out there. Is it okay to long for something more than what I have? Do I need to just learn to be content in the roles I have to play? Is it possible to learn to be content and to still yearn to do more? Will I ever find that girl again? I miss her.


Amy said...

I think it is our nature to want to do more - at least it is in mine.

I've had similar dreams as yours. I felt called at an early age to devote my life to God's work here on earth. But, like you, I have a family and other demands - homeschooling being the priority right now. I truly feel He is shaping me for things beyond my limited earthly vision. After all, its about His will, not mine.

I think you will find that missing girl soon. She is still there underneath the demands of your young children. Do not give up on her. What you are doing today is so very important!

Marie said...

I so entirely and completely am with you there.
I'm very much not inclined to career woman, but I just don't buy the "be the best mom and wife you can be" Dr. Laura sort of thing. I mean, I believe some are called to that, but I believe many let that get in the way of hearing their vocation.
A friend of mine and I used to always go around on this, we had that missing key feeling, we couldn't figure it out.
One thing that helped me was reading books like "Growing up With the Country" and other history of the family sorts of resources -- I realized that we are given a false choice today -- women must either be career women or stay at home moms. But through most of history and in most places today that is not the way it is. Families work together. Life is integrated. Mom works in the home, but that doesn't mean her highest goal is a well-folded towel. Our vocation may be to making a peaceful and clean and comfortable home for our family, but my vocation is not walking around picking up after people -- that's not good for anyone.
Can you tell you hit a nerve?
Anyway, I have faith you'll figure it out, and that there is something to figure out, don't let anyone fool you, the answer is out there, and it's not quitting home and getting a job and it's not quitting all activities that are not Donna Reed.

TwoSquareMeals said...

Thanks, Amy and Marie.

I know I made the decision to stay home for a reason. And homeschooling is really our only viable option for our first few years in China, unless we want to commit to the Chinese educational system...which I just don't think I can do.

I know I am where God wants me for now and part of my problem is just needing to learn faithfulness in the circumstances.

But, Marie, I definitely think our culture has made this problem so much worse than it is. We have turned motherhood into a profession and taken all of the joy out of it. Our lifestyles are also much less holistic than they used to be. Women and men used to have equally important (but different) tasks that contributed to the welfare and survival of their family, and the parenting part of it was much more of a shared task. Women weren't isolated in their homes with small children because they at least had a husband working in and around home.

Anyway, I will remember who God made me to be and find joy in that, whatever the circumstances of life. In the meantime, thanks for letting me vent.

Farrah said...

I am there with you. I ALWAYS wanted to be a mom. I knew that was the desire of my heart. And yet, I know that God created me with a brain and an aptitude for learning. It is He who gave me my scientific mind and love for nursing and medicine. That is no accident and definitely part of who I am. And the same is true about you. We are BOTH mothers and the girls we were pre-motherhood. One or the other comes out more at certain times. But we are fully both and should never be ashamed of that (which I know is not what you are saying).

Since I am in a place where I am about to take a job that pulls me a little more towards the "me" side than the "mother" side, maybe I am not the best one to give advice. I certainly don't want to miss these amazing years when the boys are young but I just know that this is the time to do this for me. I am a better mother to my boys when I am not burned out and "lost."
I hope this makes sense. You are still that girl. You have always been and always will be her. You are her when you read the books you love to your boys and when you teach them about the liturgy and the mountains that you love. You may feel less like her at times. But you are always her and that will manifest in different ways at different points in your life.

Love you so much!

TwoSquareMeals said...

Thank you, Farrah. I love you, too, dear friend.