(This is a guest post I wrote for Cathi Brese Doebler's blog last week. I'm reposting here in case you missed it there. Pursuing the things that you are passionate about in the midst of parenthood is not an easy venture, but it's one that I hope is worth it when all is said and done...)
I was tired. Not dog-tired, no that is a silly turn of speech…mother tired is more like it.
I had gotten up at 6:30 that morning in an attempt to find some time to read, write and pray. My 3- year old got up at 6:40. I saw her peek her curious eyes down the stairs to see if I would greet her with a smile or a growl.
She never gets up that early…The growl I kept inside, the arms opened wide and I greeted her with a hug.
“Wow, it’s early. Do you want to go back to bed sweetie?”
“Nope!” She quickly retorted.
Of course not.
I turned on the television for her and read a few pages in my Bible, looking for a bit of encouragement for the day. Looking for a reminder that there is a bigger picture…that even though I am in the midst of days where life is busy, and kids wake early, that God has a plan for my life that includes my being a great mother, but also time for my passions for writing, teaching and encouraging others.
You see this is how it goes— being a mother while striving to pursue artistic, professional or personal passions— you plan to do things and your kids get up early or you’re too tired at the end of the day. You try to schedule blocks of time and then somehow the planning of birthday parties, the grocery shopping, the family gatherings, gymnastics and ski club soon cobble away at weeks of time and before you know it you’re not sure you can even remember your phone number, much less construct a sentence that would encourage or inspire a potential reader.
Does that mean it is not worthwhile, the thinking about, the pursuing, the placing some time and energy into your passions? There have been days when I look at my husband and say that…
“That’s it! I quit.”
“Quit what babe? Being a mom? The house? Me? I don’t blame you.”
“No. I’m done. I’m done writing, thinking about writing, trying to be a writer. I’m done. I’m done. I’m done!”
He gets a grin on his face. He knows I’m not done.
There are days when I think it would be easier to quit following my heart, my dreams, the things that tap inside my soul to be pursued…that it would be easier to not have expectations for those things then to live day to day in situations in which they seem impossible to reach?
It’s a tempting thought. Some days.
I read a book last year that I seem to reference quite often lately. The book was called Tender Mercy for a Mother’s Soul, the author Angela Thomas.
Chapter 9 in the book is called “Passionate Contentment”. It’s about living life, our very busy lives with our families, while also carving out times for the things you are passionate about—the things some of us forget about (or want to quit!) once we have children.
In that chapter Thomas says,
“Energy and skill, practice and perseverance, aspiring, training, becoming—these traits perk up my spirit and call me toward an intentional life.
But just about the time I get inspired, thinking that God has put something passionate inside of me, the world marches in and screams, “Wait a cotton-pickin’ minute! What is all this aspiring, gifted, intentional stuff? You are a mother. You have four small children, for goodness’ sake. You do not have time to be passionate about anything that does not involve a home and kids.
…For me, the question is not how to get more time away from my family. I want them to have the whole 95 percent. The question I ask myself is, “How can I bring glory to God with the remaining 5 percent? Will I squander that time and energy, or will I use that small portion to pursue my passions?”
That is the question I want to be asking. How can I be a good steward with the few moments and spaces of time that I have left over at the end of the day?
Now, this doesn’t happen all the time. I don’t want anyone to read this and walk away feeling guilty, or as if they have to add something else to their to-do list. Some days I’m just too darned tired. I read a magazine. I watch television. I simply go to bed.
But then, perhaps the next day or the day after I read a trade journal (on writing in my case), journal for a bit, set some goals, or send a query letter to a magazine. It’s nothing major, but it keeps me moving forward.
It’s small things…baby steps, but that’s the point. We may only have time to take baby steps towards our passions while our babies our small. Those steps, over time though, will allow for us to stay strong on our feet, keep our passions ignited and keep us connected to the outside world.
When I get weary and feel discouraged about finding a way to balance it “all” I am encouraged by the words in Proverbs 16:9 that say, “In his heart a man plans his course, but the Lord determines his steps” or Paul’s words in Philippians 1:6 “He who began a good work in you will be faithful to complete it.”
It is then that I can really let out a sigh of relief that I am, fortunately, not the one in charge. And then I take one more baby step, a step towards choosing to have passionate contentment right where I am.