Tuesday, August 3, 2010

What about Me?

We were having dinner at some friends house the other night and they had some other friends over that we hadn't met until that evening.

After dinner we were sitting around the table talking and the husband of the couple that we didn't know was asking everyone about themselves trying to learn a little bit about each of us. When he got to me he asked me what I did before I got married and had kids. I went on to explain a little bit about my time before kiddos....

On our drive home I asked B, "are you ashamed that I am always the only one who never has anything really to say about my past"? I never really accomplished anything before kids.

I had plans.....but other things seemed to take over at that time.

I was in school taking photography classes hoping to move on to an apprenticeship (which had already been set up) once I was finished with those classes but, I wanted to get married and in our lives at that time, the photography had to be put on hold to make that happen. I'm glad I married B back then and wouldn't change it, but I wish we could have found a way for me to finish what I had started.

I see or hear about all these other moms that finished school, or are doing great things and I can't help but be envious, even though I want nothing more than to be home with my kids! If only I had something about myself that I could be proud of!


Anonymous said...

Oh man, well all I can say is that you have an amazing life! You have a family that is stable, loving, and about the most well behaved kids I know! You have a lot to be proud of! Just wanted to tell you I think you have a lot to show for your life! :-)

Lauren said...

Some people are so unknowingly rude. As if being a mom isn't worth talking about. Your kids are amazing (gymnastics, bball, instruments, etc!) do tons of amazing things, and they wouldn't be doing it if you weren't an awesome, nurturing mom.

JoAnna said...

Ditto to the above comments! It's sooo easy to lose sight of what's really important when faced with such a question. I feel the same way even though I did get a degree! Sure, in the moment, I feel dumb, but in the big picture I know I'm doing the most important thing. And so are you. Don't ever forget it!!!

Anonymous said...

Many years ago, I came across an article entitled "Why do we work?", in Fortune Magazine. It began with the following story:

"In the days of misty towers, distressed maidens, and stalwart knights, a young man, walking along the road, came upon a labourer fiercely pounding away at a stone with a hammer and chisel. The lad asked the worker, who looked frustrated and angry, "What are you doing?" The labourer answered in a pained voice. "I am trying to shape this stone, and it is backbreaking work."

The youth continued his journey and soon came upon another man chipping away at a similar stone, who looked neither particularly angry nor happy. "What are you doing?" he asked. “I'm shaping a stone for a building."

The young man went on and before long came to a third worker chipping away at a stone, but this worker was singing happily as he worked. "What are you doing?" The worker smiled and replied, "I am building a cathedral."

And so it goes with parenting. We can choose to think of parenting in terms of the short-term sheer drudgery. We can choose to focus on the nappies, the bathing floods, the runny noses, the food wars, the sibling scraps, the room-tidying battles, the school lunches, the jazz ballet costumes, the struggling to stay awake to pick up our teens and ferry them safely home.

Or we can focus on the middle term view and the carting home of wet art masterpieces, the torment of piano practice, the birthday parties, the hours of standing in windy sports fields, the projects, the homework sheets, the spelling lists, the report evenings, (“I’m afraid that we’re having a little trouble focussing”), the school camps, the driving lessons, the friendship heartbreaks and the school balls.

Or, we can choose to lift our heads above the relentless nature of the job, the repetitive tasks, the sheer exhaustion, the planning, the worrying, and the yelling and the screaming (ours or theirs!). We can focus on the long-term goals of what we are setting out to achieve. We are aiming to send off into the world an independent young adult with good social skills, a sense of responsibility, the capacity to be a good friend and a good sport, a young adult with the full complement of values and virtues and, hopefully, a natural urge to pop home to see “the olds” every now and again.

The same article declared that one of the reasons we work is “for the money.” Well, I have news for the author. We parents have known for a long time that no-one could pay us enough money for the work we do. The reason that we work so hard and so willingly, is because every day we are "building cathedrals."

Raising a child to independent adulthood is cathedral-building work. Just like the labourer chipping away looking frustrated and angry, a lot of our work can be thought of as tedious, repetitive, unappreciated and backbreaking.

You will notice that I did not include the word "soul-destroying." That is because, like the third labourer, we choose not to itemise our Job Description into categories like nose-wiping, nappy changing, shouting orders, night-watchman, spell-checker, door monitor, transport officer or puddle-soaker-extraordinaire. We see the overview. We are working towards the completion of our cathedrals.

When next you visit a cathedral, give some thought, not only to the architect and the project manager, but also to the many artisans without whom the project could not have been completed.

When next you see a child, an adolescent, an adult, or any half-way decent human being, remember the architect, the project manager, and the artisans, all of whom are wrapped into one person who answers to the call of "Mu-u-u-m" or “Da-a-a-d.”

And when next you see me cuddling my child, don't be surprised if I say "Sh-h-h-h! I'm building a cathedral!"

kim said...

Being an amazing mom is one of the hardest jobs anyone could have. You a have mastered that!!! I don't know many moms that are as caring, loving, patient, supportive and the list goes on. I am so proud of everything you have accomplished. I love you!!!

Harris said...

Hi Hayley! Well I have had these same thoughts before about myself. I don't have kids or anything exciting in my life other than my hubby. I can honestly say though that you are very accomplished. I know that you raise your kids up with pride and love your family. They are all together and support one another. Many "accomplished" moms have no real accomplishments other than the success of their jobs. Torn apart families and children who don't know what true love is. You are an incredible lady. I never thought i'd hope to be anything but a career lady, now I hope to be like you with a solid family and life filled with love. Something that I know you put a lot of energy in! Oh and I am not just saying that...