I have a confession to make: I've been wound waaay too tight the last few weeks. I've been waging an internal battle over my health and well-being (i.e. food + fitness), my education, my future (both personal and professional), and my quality in terms of parenting and marriage. I've been impatient with my kiddo, snippy with my husband, and fretful + stressed everywhere in between.
Sometimes all it takes is Kiddo's decision to wear a bow tie to school on a random Tuesday morning or unwanted auto-formatting in Word to cause the dam to fill and the ugliness to spill over.
Is it too much to ask to be Lorelai Gilmore? (Minus the boy trouble.) I just want to wake up every morning and walk to Luke's and run my own inn, or whatever my perfect Stars Hollow job would be. And darn it if I don't want to drink the Founder's Day punch before noon some days. But I digress.
I've been working toward a solution, but came to realize my solution was part of the problem. Instead of making a decision, and sticking too it, I was flitting from this to that which only served to make me more unsure, unsettled and many other uns.
In my attempt to be flexible, I made myself miserable. I was weighing too many options and not pursuing any of them with any sort of conviction. (Oh, the hemming and hawing I've done!)
So while a little plasticity is a good thing when it comes parenting and dinner plans, the same can't be said when it comes to making decisions about overarching life plans. Inactivity, masquerading as I'm considering all my options, lead to decision-making paralysis, meanwhile sucking the morale right out of me.
No one is going to knock on my door and offer me The Perfect Job; a genie won't magically make all my wildest dreams come true (and show me what they look like, exactly); and a CrossFit coach isn't going to drive my arse to class every day. It just doesn't work that way.
Yesterday, after consulting with a college advisor (possibly with the irrational hope that she had some sort of wondrous solution to all my problems), I had a heart-to-heart with Husband. He is one of the sagest people I know. We sat in the car and hashed it all out. I took a break from my usual default defensiveness and got real.
And just like that, things became quite clear.
The truth? I'm deathly afraid of doing the wrong thing. Of regret. I fear that finishing my education will cause me to miss cross-country meets and conversations across the dinner table. Fear that I'll wake up one morning and Kiddo will be a man. Fear that I'll let the people I love down, but more likely, myself. I'll have my career, sure, but I'll have to live with the fact that, in the pursuit of my own fulfillment, I missed out on aspects of my son's life.
And so goes the emotional minefield that is motherhood.
I remember back to when Kiddo was little. Like, 3-years old little. My job at the time required that I work Christmas morning. It wasn't an all day thing, just an early morning shift. Still, I wasn't there when he woke up and saw the tree and all the presents and had that bright, beautiful look of wonder small people get. He doesn't remember, of course, but I do. All the time, in fact. I remember sitting on the bathroom floor crying because I wasn't there. Because I missed it. It wasn't that I didn't want to work, I like working, but that day it was at the expense of spending the earliest part of Christmas morning with my son. I never want to feel that sort of angst again.
How do I reconcile the fact that I don't want to be a stay-at-home mom, but also don't want to miss a moment of my child's life? And what about those moms who don't have a choice? Do I have any right agonizing when I have so many options?
So here's the fundamental question(s): How can I be fulfilled as a parent and an individual, and is it possible to have both?
My chosen career requires 7-8 years of higher education, with a year or two of full time work in between. There's simply no way around it. There will be (more) late nights and weekends bent over a book and more time spent away from home than I'm comfortable with.
There will also come a day in the not-too-distant future when Kiddo pursues a life of his own. And when that day comes I must have something of my own, lest I be crippled by the realization that my one and only child has left the nest. I know myself too well to let that happen.
Complicating the issue is the fact that my understanding of myself, my identity, is totally and completely intertwined with my role as a wife and mother. I know that about myself, too.
There comes a time in each woman's life when she has to ask herself Who am I, really?; without applying the filter of motherhood or wifehood or employeehood. I'm there now. It's time to strip all that away and get to the crux of who I am and what I want.
I've been a mom and a wife for nearly all of my adult life. And although I regularly go through periods of introspection, I have yet to dig deep enough to make real, meaningful, life-changing progress.
The time has come to figure out just who I am. No one can do it for me, and discontent is the consequence of putting it off any longer.
It's time. My time.
Commence Project Sarah.
[Photos taken a couple weekends ago at Multnomah Falls. Waterfalls are simply awe-inspiring, says me. Although unrelated to this post, they go well together. You know?]
[Also, I got a new set of VSCO filters and applied them with abandon. Because, why not?]