Our own thing

Posted By on July 15, 2012

In our day, expressions like “personal growth”, “self-fulfillment” and “following our own dreams” are tossed into the air on a regular basis. We are constantly convinced that to be happy, we must do what we want, when we want; and that our children are better off seeing a “happy” mother a couple of hours a day, than an unfulfilled, frustrated one all day long.

I will not say that this doesn’t have a grain of truth. It is important that we grow and develop our personalities; it is lovely to dream, and to pursue goals. And yet it is crucial to remember – especially for young mothers like me, who are often bogged down by diapers, food smeared everywhere, and squabbling toddlers – that for everything there is a season, and that almost everything can wait while we raise a family. Our dreams are not gone; they are just put on hold, or on a back burner, while we do that which cannot wait.

Writing is my biggest passion and has always been. Recently, with the appreciation of my husband, I began to take myself more seriously as an aspiring writer, and currently have several large works in progress. Yet this progress is slow, as I can’t exactly allot much time in one stretch to sit down and type away. The largest part of my day is spent in very mundane pursuits. Today, for example, between getting up and dressed and tucking the girls into their naps, I made breakfast, broke up a couple of fights, fed all the animals, wiped the floor clean after several potty training accidents, took out the garbage… and on and on – you get the idea. All the things that seemingly don’t leave a lasting impression. A countless train of work, even though this morning, atypically, did not include the usual chores of laundry and cooking lunch.

 

Yet do I feel as though my morning has been wasted in vain? No; I actually am happy with every hour I spent.  Not butterflies-in-my-stomach happy, not I-should-get-an-award-for-doing-this happy, but a deep feeling of contentment all the same. I knew I was doing what must be done, and I knew I was coping with the tasks that were meant for me, just as they were coming at me, one by one. Someone has to take care of my family; someone has to wipe that floor after the toddler had her “accident”, while explaining to her what she should do to prevent it from happening next time.

My other option would be giving my children over to the care of someone else, so that I could be doing something else, supposedly something neater, more respectable in the eyes of others, more accomplished. Yet the “lowly” tasks involved in childcare cannot be eliminated – they can only be transferred, usually to someone who does them for money, not for love and duty, and thus does not put her heart into them. In a point of view that has become prevalent, yet still seems bizarre in my eyes, such an arrangement gives more social consequence to both women – the wife and mother who leaves her home, because she does paid work; and the daycare provider, because she does paid work. The ones who usually miss out are the children.

And so I know that this job was created for me, and should be done, whenever, if at all, and for as long as possible – by me.

I’m not saying I’m perfect all the time (or ever). I’m not saying I never break down, feeling as though I’m suffocating with the desperate need of silence, solitude, sober conversation; of doing what I like, and what makes me feel good, to refresh and renew myself. I do try and incorporate such moments during the day. There is praying in the morning; and writing on my blog when I have a couple of spare minutes – that is my “instant” writing outlet, when I cannot commit myself to something more lengthy, yet feel I have thoughts swirling in my head, begging to be let out. I write down ideas for hobbies, pursuits and recipes I would like to try just for fun, and once in a while I even manage to accomplish a new project.

But I do not feel entitled to do my own thing all the time.

I don’t look very far ahead; for as long as I can see into the visible future, toys will always be scattered on the floor. Fights will always break out. Butter will always get smeared all over the table. For hundreds of times every day, I will have to repeat “don’t touch this”, “don’t shout, I’m trying to listen to Daddy” and “stand still if you want me to help you put your shoes on”.

In my mind I know, of course, that some day it will all change. If all follows its due course, someday I will have more free time to do all the things I dream about. It will not necessarily make me happier or more fulfilled; it is a statistical fact that rates of depression are higher among the relatively affluent Westerners than in “primitive” societies that live simply and slowly. All I can hope is G-d will guide me and help me doing what I need, can and should be doing, for the benefit of my loved ones, and to distribute my time, energy and work in the right way, in every period of my life.

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About The Author

I'm a Jewish woman, a wife, a mother, a homemaker. A thinker, a dreamer, a learner. An avid cook and baker and a yarn addict. I love everything that has to do with home and family, and enjoy the solitude of my quiet corner, which is located in one of the most beautiful areas of Israel.

Comments

4 Responses to “Our own thing”

  1. Jessie says:

    This is so timely! I had one of those days yesterday that just got worst as the day went on. After having to remind my oldest for over an hour about her chore I just had a break down. But I should have seen it coming, days before I was feeling VERY discontented and saying to myself, is what I am doing really mattering? How is this doing anything for God or His kingdom. I was so upset I seriously considered sending them to public school just to get some time alone. I thought the same thing it is better for them to be around a happy momma than a upset one. I feel like Moses sometimes with the Israelites. My children are a blessing I know that and what God says my heart is most of the time in line with that but there truly are days where I am going, I can not break up one more fight, remind one more time, or clean up the same mess one more time. My question is how do you avoid burnout? I guess also if I hold on to my dreams they also cause me to be discontent I think when all this is said and done then I can do something better and more important. Then that causes me to long when I can do these things instead of focusing on what is truly more important. I just need to put encouraging words up all over my house! I want my daughters to enjoy motherhood and not struggle as I have. I feel the only way for them to do this is to see me enjoy it!

  2. Jessie, I’m not Anna T, but I just want to give a shout-out to say, “Keep going!” It is hard to put up with daily squabbles and messes, but I truly think parenthood is what teaches us to live in awe of the mercy and patience of God. When I think what a sinner I am and how much grace God has extended to me, I have to “put my hand over my mouth,” as Job said. How can He do it? How can He put up with our pettiness and selfishness? What amazing love! Some days I just realize I need to sit down, gather the squabbling littles into my lap, and simply extend grace and remind them that they are loved. A very wise older woman once told me that children get the most angry and frustrated when their “tanks are empty.” Sometimes the days are so rushed we skimp on the smiles, the kind words, and the hugs. The more we do that, the more “eruptions” there tend to be. Sitting down and cuddling, soothing, reading a book aloud or sipping tea together can really do amazing things. God bless you as you extend grace just like Moses did time and again to those wayward Israelites!

  3. defman says:

    Excellent article, and comments, too. (thumbsup), happiness happens by itself, not by coerce, so no worries, make time for EVERYTHING, for there will always be time for everything. No worries.

    Praise God and Jesus! And the Holy Spirit… and all three are ONE!

  4. Jessie says:

    Thank you Jennie! You are truly an encouragement and God is using you to confirm some things to me! After that day I needed much encouragement, so I went looking for a sermon. I ended up on John Pipers website and found one I thought would help give me the right perspective on things. They read Psalm 51 and I didn’t even need to listen to anything else! All I could do was weep…. You are so right in why on earth He puts up with us and He is so so…. gracious, loving, merciful and kind! It just makes me love Him so…. much more and want to be so much better! No wonder He will always get the glory and how humbling to be chosen by Him to be called His child when I am such a pain, most of the time. Thanks again for the reminder!!! May God bless you as well as you encourage other woman!!!

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