Saturday, March 7, 2015

Identity Crisis

I was listening to an interview today the lady was talking about how unproductive she feels being a stay-at-home mom of little kids.  She has 5 kids ages 1-7, so no wonder she feels that way!

She suggested that instead of making a list of things to do that day, make a list at the end of the day of what you accomplished.  I'm a list-maker, so that idea sounded brilliant. 

I make a list each day but 95% of the things I do each day are not things that could be crossed off a to-do list.  They are either things that I couldn't expect would pop up (cleaning up spilled smoothie -- oh wait, that is pretty predictable), they are a expected already every day (meal prep and clean up several times a day), they are not-negotiable (get the kids to where they need to be on time), they are scheduled on my calendar and don't get attended to the to-do list (attend a meeting), or then it's all the nurturing that a mother just does (reading a book to a child, or listening to my husband's day, or saying hi to a neighbor).  I know this is the case for every single person.  We all are busy and usually the task list is un-done each night. 

This interview was timely because I've been pondering how lame my life is lately and I've been trying to re-evaluate how I spend my time each day.  This all started because -- well my life IS rather dull and simple.  And most of the time I really love it like this.  I've worked hard to eliminate people and things from life that were a drain.  But my 20-year high school reunion is coming up and I've wondered if I've simplified too much.  Or if I've squandered my "potential."  I have accomplished several of the things I expected I would that night I got my HS diploma.  That night I wrapped up my childhood, delivered that commencement address to my fellow graduating class, and moved on to adulthood and bigger and better things.  I'm doing now what I thought I'd be doing 20 years later.

It just feels a lot different than I thought it would feel.  Motherhood is much, much, MUCH harder, for one thing.  It's much more boring and isolating -- which I don't mind actually most of the time.  It's much more exhausting.  It's much more confusing.  It's much more expensive.  It's much more competitive.  It's much louder.  And although we live in a progressive time, stay-at-home moms are considered boring, lazy, lame, uneducated, incapable, passive, rich, weak, unproductive, to name a few, by many.  Or maybe it's just me that wonders if that's what I am.

Interestingly enough, during this time of self-reflection, I also had a lengthy conversation with one of G's long-time friends.  He and I were also friends and students together in college.  We spent many long hours in the newsroom at BYU learning the ropes of broadcast and print journalism.  He worked in NYC (my dream) and currently has a master's degree and works at media company.  (His wife is finishing up her second bachelor's degree -- nursing this time -- w
hile working outside the home and while mothering three children.  She graduated back when we did with her first degree.)  I trust his judgment and counsel considering he knew me during my "moving up in the world days" and his wife is not a a stay-at-home mom.

"In this era women can do anything.  And since they can do anything, they feel like they need to do everything.  And when they don't do everything, they feel like they aren't doing anything."

That's what he said.  And I liked that.

So I've been taking some time to reflect on my identity and what I do all day.  (Currently I'm sitting on my front porch in my workout clothes soaking up some serious vitamin D and typing on my laptop.  Being a stay-at-home mom isn't ALL tedious.)

I want to be a champion of all women and their choices. And I want to teach my sons to appreciate women who know who they are.

I can't exactly do that if I'm uncertain of who I am.

I'm trying to remember that my identity has nothing to do with my status as a mother.  It has nothing to do with my religion.  It has nothing to do with my job (or lack thereof).  It has nothing to do with my degree.  It has nothing to do with my talents.  It has nothing to do with my looks or size.  It has nothing to do with my hobbies (or lack thereof).  It has nothing to do with my marital status.  It has nothing to do with my confidence.  It has nothing to do with my interests.  It has nothing to do with my friends (or lack thereof).  It has nothing to do with my kids and their talents, successes, or behavior.

Those are some empowering things to understand.  And yet they are also very easy to forget.

This blog post has helped me to sort through all this.  And my sister has suggested I read Eckhart Tolle for more truth and guidance.

What is your identity?

Next up:  I will make a list of the things I'm proud of accomplishing on a given day.  And what I'm proud of accomplishing in the past year or so.  You should too. 

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