You know it’s been too long since you’ve written when you can’t remember your WordPress password. That’s where I am in life right now apparently. “Direction-less and drifting,” to quote the talented musician, Josh Ritter.
I’ve been drawn to writing lately but haven’t actually written much for myself. I’m “in between” jobs – something that makes me feel “less than.” It’s amazing and kind of sad how our culture relies on a single occupation for creating one’s own value and self-worth. I’m now 5 years deep into being a stay-at-home mom – a choice that neither makes me feel regret or pride. It simply is. And it simply was my choice, and my husband’s choice. Originally it was a 2 year plan, but turned into 5 when we decided to have just one more child.
There are many benefits to being a stay-at-home parent, but there are also sacrifices. I often tell people it was the best decision we made and the worst financial decision at the same time. Sometimes I think about the things we can’t do right now and I get sucked into a vacuum of self-blame, feeling ashamed that I’m not living up to my own potential. As an educated woman, there are moments, okay, months, years, where I think I’m wasting my intelligence. I sometimes wonder if the extra income I could produce would actually serve my family better than my current distracted self. And I don’t know. I really don’t. Because, then I see the moments when I am “here” with them, and the things I get to experience with them, that I would absolutely miss if I were back in my full-time workload. So I don’t know. And I keep “Don’t Knowing.”
When you don’t work a full-time job for 5 years, it seems daunting to go back to work. How will I manage it all? Most days, I feel overwhelmed with the typical family logistics that I currently juggle. How could I tack on the responsibility of a career in addition to it? There’s an old saying, “If you want something done, give it to a busy person.” And I suppose it’s true. No matter what life throws at you, you simply find a way to manage it all. Sure, balls are dropped. Sure, stress is involved. But you power through, because you have to.
Sometimes people comment how they don’t know how I did it as a single mother. I was a single mom for only 3 years, but it did seem like an eternity. When I remarried and faced the prospect of having more children, I wasn’t even sure I would want to have more. The only way I pictured parenting at the time was doing it alone. Lo and behold, here I am, 3 kids later. Life changes, plans adjust, and you simply find a way to manage it all.
I’ve been searching for meaning in life. “Seek and ye shall find.” I told my brother the other day that I’ve felt very apathetic toward the world. Well, not the tangible world so much, but the digital world. The digital world has made me numb; it’s given me the sense of living in the Matrix. I’ve noticed that in my in-person interactions with people, I’m kinder, more sympathetic, more eager to connect. The relationships of the screen are dying for me.
The other day, I went down to the creek at the bottom of our property, and I started carrying river rocks up the steep hill back to our home to use in lining the flower beds. I would load about 5 medium rocks into a brown canvas bag, heft it over my shoulder and make the 1/4 mile trek uphill. It was tangible, took real effort and sweat, and in the end, I felt and saw my achievement. Right before my eyes. So much of what we do in today’s world is not tangible. It is digital, virtual. And it’s not enough. And it doesn’t feel “real.” I’m sick of it. I’m ready to break out of this Matrix to focus on what matters.
The other day, I felt so frustrated by my own lack of direction, I prayed in the shower. And I’m not a person who prays. I am not religious, maybe I am spiritual though. I prayed for a sign of what I’m supposed to be doing with my life and what is best for my family. When I came out of the shower, I found 4 pieces of paper that my 5-year-old had written earlier that day. She was copying words that she learned while watching “Super Why,” on Netflix. I didn’t realize that she had brought them to our master bedroom. As I looked at the words, so simple, so innocent, I nearly cried. “Look.” “Concentrate.” “Compromise.” Words so simple, they were obviously being taught as life lessons in a children’s educational cartoon, but they meant something to my daughter, and they meant something to me.
And now, I sit, “in between jobs,” maybe making paintings for my former company, writing blogs for a different former company, failing at my at-home direct marketing job, and grasping at anything, absolutely anything that seems the least bit real. I’m coaching my oldest daughter’s volleyball team and it is REAL. And it is wonderful. I’m laughing with my little girls and watching their faces light up as they tell me full and colorful descriptions of how they see the world. The older I get, the more I realize that I am not any one thing; I am many things, and that’s okay. It must be okay. Because here I am, Looking, Concentrating, and Compromising. Battling my way out of this Matrix.