I often joke that I work for free raising these kids of mine, but it's not a fair statement. After all, I do get paid in kisses, hugs, and the joy I experience watching the little people I created grow.
Technically, raising kids is my job because I am a stay at home mom, but motherhood has never been enough for me.
I just felt a slight twinge of guilt admitting that, but it's the truth.
See, motherhood happened to me a bit earlier than I expected it would. I was in the middle of a career transition, having recently hung up my dance shoes to enter the field of psychology. I earned a master's degree in positive psychology then started the process of applying to graduate school because I set my intentions on earning a doctorate.
Back then, I assumed writing would support me in the career I was striving for as a psychologist. I wanted to work with people one-on-one, to help them overcome struggles and find a way to thrive.
As motherhood unfolded and I was struck by the enormity of responsibility it required, I just couldn't see how I could juggle both. I shelved the PhD thing and started writing.
Writing was the one thing I could engage in that didn't take me away from motherhood. I created a routine of writing casually when my kids napped, and the time I spend at my computer making sense of my emotions through words always brought an experience of flow and left me a little more content than I was
As the story goes, I started sharing my work the night I ended up in the Burn Unit with my son. The email I sent to my girlfriends asking for help was a cry for help written as a story.
That email was forwarded along and eventually strangers were reading my words and reaching out with love and support for my family.
This is when I created a blog to keep everyone in the loop.
I would hear the term and cringe. Everything about writing and sharing so freely terrified me (it still does sometimes). Yet when I first started blogging from my son's bedside in a burn unit, I wasn't worried about writing perfectly or what anyone wanted to hear. I wasn't wondering if or why anyone would want to read my work: I just wrote and shared because the process held me together.
In the hardest experience of my life, I noticed that my calling is to be a storyteller.
The sign wasn't crystal clear. I can only describe what was a sense of urgency: If I didn't continue on writing and sharing, I would miss an important wave of momentum towards my destiny.
I think about the irony of this a lot:
If motherhood didn't come along when it did, I would be a psychologist in private practice. My life would look completely different.
I actually did think about rekindling that old dream recently, because it was a serious goal of mine. But writing is just what makes my soul happy....and it allows me to be present with my family. Writing is the way I can connect with YOU and have a conversation about how to thrive.
This....right here....right now...ME talking to YOU is what I always wanted to do: I'm just going about it all differently than I imagined.
In fact, it's all going better than anticipated because I can connect with you AND be present for my kids.
Besides, graduate school is insanely expensive. I've decided my PhD is in motherhood. I've become an expert at managing chaos and finding joy in unexpected moments of madness. I like talking about this sort of stuff: how we can find happiness regardless of what life brings our way.
So I've decided that when I grow up, I want to be a writer.
Lately, I write like it's my job, but I don't get paid. Technically, I did get paid for an article recently, but after I deduct taxes from that pay check, I'm not sure I could even take my family out to lunch to celebrate....let alone cover a babysitter.
But this tiny little moment of triumph was enough to motivate me to work harder. I get up five days a week at an ungodly hour when the house is quiet so I can sit at my computer uninterrupted and write.
I have never been, and never will be a morning person. Still, I drag my butt out of bed at 4:10am because there is nothing that has made me happier in this life than brewing a pot of coffee and sitting down to write: in silence.
There's now a rule in my household that my MOM shift doesn't begin until 7am. Don't ask for apple juice in a blue cup. Don't you dare start fighting. This is MY time. Go figure it out. Leave me be.
Mostly, they do, because they know we are all better off if Mom gets to write in the morning.
And still, the hours I write in the morning are not enough. I carry whatever it is I am creating with me throughout the day. I write notes when I am idling in the carpool line at preschool drop off and will edit a piece as I am throwing dinner together.
I note that this need to immerse myself into writing coincides with the fact that I have begun giving away the baby stuff I have gathered over the years. You would think that after four kids my heart is full.
I mean, it is. I am incredibly blessed, and beyond grateful for the family I have. Still, I love love love babies, and if I was physically capable of having another, I probably would.
I technically am (fertile), but it's a risk I will not take because every day I look at my youngest and remember what I went through to have her. I know in my heart it's time to move on.
That's why I've reconfigured my website, and have committed to having more of a presence on social media to build a platform. I'm not good at this sort of stuff, but I am willing to learn new skills and do whatever it takes to foster this dream of mine.
I want to write a book. It seems I'm pregnant again, but with a dream.
I'm not afraid to chase this dream, because I've been a mom for 8 years now. Motherhood showed me I am capable of more than I ever imagined.
What I am getting at here is that moment I first saw two blue lines on a stick and realized motherhood was upon me, a part of me shut down and started to grieve.
I assumed I was losing part of me.
But the irony is that by surrendering into motherhood, I found my calling and the courage I need to pursue it.
This is why I was able to actually publish the post I wrote last Friday about my parenting fails. Instinct always nudges me to hide what is messy, hard or ugly. I'd be much more comfortable sending my work to an editor for approval before publishing.
I like things to be PERFECT.
I'm working on that..and I find it helpful to remember how this writing thing began for me: in a moment of vulnerability.
I was sharing what was hard and scary.....asking for help because I couldn't move forward alone.
I still can't tackle this alone. If I am going to be a writer, I need an audience. Instinct tells me I'll only get one if I'm willing to remain vulnerable and authentic because that's how this all started.
So I'm committing to a weekly reflection on Fridays - just me talking about life on this blog the way I did when I was nine months pregnant in a burn unit with my toddler.
Maybe these conversations will lead to something greater but if not, I'm happy right here, right now because I'm following my calling.
I hope you find yours too.
That's why I'll leave you now with a question:
What makes YOU happy? What can you do for hours without reward where the world just falls away and you are better because of it?
Yes, that! How can you follow THAT?
I know...life is busy and complicated.
Still, that thing you were meant to do? It will find a way.
There's one caveat:
YOU must believe in your calling, and do it what it takes to follow it.
Most importantly, you must trust that in surrender and sacrifice your calling is not lost.