Wednesday, June 27, 2012

This is Not the Life I Wanted- Or Is It?

Growing up in a fundie-lite home, I heard lots of interesting things about women. I was taught that women were subordinate to men, and that a woman's place was at home, with the children, preferably homeschooling them. ("Woman! Make me a sammich!") My mom dropped out of college 4 credits short of her associates degree to marry my dad. There were not many (any?) messages about strong, confident women or how women could choose careers and have a life outside the home. My mom even went so far as to tell me that women that work in the corporate world are unhappy because God's will is for them to be at home with their families, not working. (!!!)  I was never given the freedom to explore my options and choose which one was best for me. I was never told that it was an option to be something instead of or in addition to being a wife and a mother.

So, needless to say, I didn't have any grand dreams or aspirations for my future. When someone asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up, I'd say that I wanted to be a mother. By the time I graduated high school, I was pretty deeply involved with my boyfriend at the time, who would later be my husband. I had no interest at all in going to college. I didn't see the point! I loved Thad, and I knew we were going to get married. If we were going to get married, and I was going to be a wife and mom at some point in the near future, why did I need to go to college??? My dad basically forced me to go- he said that if I wanted to continue to live under his roof, I'd at least need to take some courses at the community college. I'm SO glad that he did. It was just a couple of courses at the local college, but I absolutely loved it. I thrive on learning, and I had no idea that college could be so fun and empowering! That was my first experience in a classroom setting- up until then I'd been exclusively homeschooled, from day one all the way until my high school graduation. I got A's in every class but one(and could have gotten an A in that class too, but I was distracted by grieving my dad's death while planning my wedding- I'm going to give myself a pass on that one.) and felt so proud of myself.

I completed two semesters at the community college, and then got married. Ah, yes- that's what I had been waiting for! Now my dreams of being a wife and mom could come true! I didn't go back to school that next semester- there was no need now that I was a wife. I threw myself into the marriage- to "submitting and supporting". When the kids came along, I then became a full time mother. And you know what? I was miserable. This wonderful dream that had been placed in my head since the day I was a child wasn't so dreamy after all. I felt stuck. Stifled. My husband is an idea man, and is constantly coming up with new ideas and schemes that he gets really excited about. And as a "good wife", it was my job to support him- no questions asked! I tried to do my best, but deep down I really didn't like a lot of his ideas. (Sorry, honey!) And even though I was trying really hard, because I knew it was the "right" thing to do, I wasn't very good at supporting him.

Same thing with motherhood. I knew it was right and "Godly" for me to be at home with my kids. But I wondered why, if that was true, did I feel so miserable? Why did I feel so stuck? Why wasn't I enjoying the time that I was spending with them? Why did I find myself dreaming of using my brain again, and doing something that challenged me intellectually? If what I was doing was exactly what God wanted me to do, then why did I feel so miserable in the very core of my being?

It took a while, but I finally found the answers to those questions. My value does not lie exclusively in my wifehood or motherhood. I have purpose and meaning outside of those relationships. God did not give me a brain and intend for me not to use it. God did not command women to exclusively stay at home and raise children. As I learned these things and my mind and heart were opened, I got so excited!!! I could do and be so much more than I had anticipated! I could go back to school if I wanted to! I could work outside the home if I wanted to! I could do or be whatever I wanted to be! For the first time in my life, I realized that I could dream outside of the home, outside of the box I had been placed in when I was born and they discovered that I was a girl.

And I do have dreams. The one that I'm closest to right now is to become a doula, and be with women as they give birth- and I'm slowly working towards that goal, and it's so exciting! I have other dreams too, although they're in the more distant future. But it makes my heart happy just to have them there, and to know that they're possible. Just to know that I can dream, and that it's okay for me to dream of someday doing big things is so empowering for me. But for right now, I'm still at home, raising my babies and supporting my husband as he plants a church. That's right, I'm doing exactly the same thing that I was doing before. As much as it sounds appealing to me, I don't have a job outside the home. I'm not going to school. My children need me at home right now, while they're young, and my husband needs me at home supporting him while he's working endless hours planting a church.

I'm doing exactly what I was doing before, but now I'm content, because I'm living a life that I intentionally chose for myself.

I'm not at home because someone told me that I had to be. You see, family and motherhood was always truly a part of my heart- and always will be. Much of the things that I apsire to have to do with helping mothers and families, and I'm excited about that. The problem wasn't that I didn't want to be a wife or mother- it was that I was never given the opportunity to choose between that and something else, or that AND something else. Because of the messages I received as a girl, I belived that family was the only acceptable path for me. I believed that God didn't want me to do anything more than be a wife or mom, and that's why I made the "choices" that I made- and really, they weren't even choices. I didn't see any other options- not if I wanted to be pleasing to God.

Now, I'm home because I've chosen to be. I've looked at the situation, at my dreams and goals, at my husband's dreams and goals, and the needs of our family, and I've made the decision that makes the most sense for all of us. We're a team, and we work together. I love being home with my kids- because that's where I've chosen to be. I'm choosing a season of sacrifice because I know it's best for them, and I truly am enjoying it. It's an honor to be the person that cares for and raises my children, and I know that the way that I treat them will have a lifelong impact on them. That's something I take very seriously! If by giving selflessly I can have a positive impact on the rest of their lives, then I am more than happy to make that my focus. I love them with all of my heart and I want what's best for them! Of course, there are hard days and I need breaks every once in a while, but that's true of any job. But in the big picture, and in the bottom of my heart, I'm so thankful to be staying home and enjoying this time with my kids.

Now, I'm supporting my husband not because I feel like I have to, but because I love him and believe in him! He is an amazing pastor and preacher, and I believe in him 100%. I know that he's called to do what he's doing, and it's so amazing to see how many lives he's been able to influence for good. Our church celebrated our first year this week, and you should have heard the sermon that he preached. He totally knocked it out of the park, and I was so, so proud of him. I'm happy to do what I do so that he can focus on what he's really good at. I'm now supporting him because I believe in him, not because I have to. And isn't that so much better in the end? Who would want love and support out of obligation? True love isn't possible unless you also have a choice not to love. Isn't that why God gave us free will- because He wanted us to choose to love him? The same thing applies in our earthly relationships too. God didn't intend for any of us to be stuck, without a choice in our own lives.

I've made a choice to love. I've made a choice to sacrifice. And even though from an outsider's perspective it might look like I'm doing exactly the same things, for me it's so much different now. My love for my family is so much more genuine now. When I give of myself to them, I'm truly giving of myself- because I now know that I have a choice not to. I feel so much more content in this season of being a stay at home mom now that it's something I've chosen to do, instead of something that someone told me that I had to do. 

Have you ever found yourself living a life that someone else chose for you? What did you do about it? 

1 comment:

  1. I love this! I can completely resonate with your distinction of power...knowing before it was always what you thought you would do, and consciously making a choice to do it, knowing it was more than just a job, more than something external, more than just the tough is you.
    Thanks for such great insights. :)