Years ago we were in a coffee shop when I was posed an all too familiar question, “So, what do you do?” They were new acquaintances, unaware of the fact that I was a stay at home mom. I paused uncomfortably. I knew what they meant, they meant: What is your degree in? What career path have you chosen? What does your contribution to society look like? I dreaded the question. I never knew how to answer. I could never think of anything interesting to say, anything that felt valuable. I took a breath -they were just being friendly, making conversation. At times like these I usually ended up mumbling something which inevitably triggered a lull in the conversation. No degree? No career? You stay home with kids? What is there to talk about?
This time though, my mom was with me- good ole mom to save the day! Without missing a beat she popped in enthusiastically, “Oh, she is very passionate about raising her kids right now.” We all lifted our eyebrows and the entire conversation took an interesting turn into unpacking that sentence. It really was delightful. Saved by the mom!
The irony was, I didn’t feel passionate. In fact, to put it candidly, I felt trapped. I was as surprised as they were! I was at that stage of motherhood when all of my days were busy but dull, full of noise and chattering but no coherent conversation. Yes, I had chosen this life on purpose, no one had pushed me into it; But I was beginning to think I could have found a more exciting (and productive) use for my abilities then burying them under mountains of laundry, cleaning and dishes. I felt like I was forever being pulled on by 3 ft. tall people who constantly needed something, my attention, my help, my breast! This was the good life- I wasn’t complaining, but I didn’t feel passionate about anything other than getting a full night’s sleep and it certainly didn’t make for interesting coffee shop conversation!
But it did- something about the way my mom said it, something in her confidence, in her perspective. She saw something I couldn’t at the time, and we were all intrigued.
I have heard it said that children view themselves the way the people around them do. Could this be true for adults as well? In that moment- my mom spoke purpose into my life path. She gave me a view of what I was doing that I couldn’t see at the time. She had been there before and had come out on the other side alive! Not only alive- but thriving, and not only was she thriving but 4 beautiful human beings were thriving alongside her. She had a perspective from the mountain that I couldn’t see in the valley. She knew my heart- she knew that moms need support and validation and was willing to give it. She knew that it can be a lonely and thankless lot in the beginning- but that in the end it is worth it, oh so worth it. She had assigned value and dignity to what I was doing and had spoken it out boldly.
I have often thought of that conversation- it was like a spark of light in a dark place that captures your attention. It gave me something to walk towards, to aspire to. I *became* passionate about raising my kids. It didn’t give me a belief I didn’t already have- but rather gave me permission to flesh it out.
I am so thankful for my mom, for her mom, for this heritage of mothering that I have inherited. The successes I have had as a mother are not so much mine as they are the fruit of generational support, support for what, in our culture, was a dying art and calling, the high calling of motherhood. I say was- because I see something exciting. I see this calling being kindled again! In my conversations with women across the country I see a smoking ember being fanned into a flame. I see what I call “first generation” moms, moms who don’t have that generational support, daring to step out on a path they have never seen trod. Attempting something they have not seen modeled. They are going against the grain of our culture and keeping their kids at home, investing in them deeply. Investing their very lives, their hours, their minutes, and their seconds into this next generation. These moms are my heroes. In the coffee shop they will not have a career path to talk about, a degree (or use of a degree) to brag about. But their contribution to society will outlive those others. Their contribution will be the beautiful human beings who thrive alongside their thriving mamas.
I want to be like my mom in more ways than one. But one way is this, I want to speak purpose into the lives of women who have chosen this life path. I want to giv
e you permission to flesh it out- take pride in what you do. I want to help give perspective when yours is out of whack, I want to assign value and dignity to what you are doing and I want to speak it out boldly. This is why I created this blog; this is why I am thankful for the connections it has given me. It has let me see that I am not alone.
The embers are being gathered together and the wind is blowing. Our society has more than enough degrees and careers, what it could use more of is beautiful, thriving human beings and only invested mothers can give that contribution.