I don’t generally watch Oprah. I used to, but have become a bit disenchanted as of late. I think it’s the me-centered focus of the show. It’s all about self fulfillment… taking care of MY needs, doing what’s important to ME. But a few weeks ago, when Oprah interviewed Stephanie Meyer, I tuned in to watch. I’m not over the moon in love with the Twilight books. I read them. I enjoyed the story. The end. I’m not a member of Team this or that. I have never vacationed to Forks, Washington on purpose. I have not gone to midnight viewings, camped out in bookstores, or dressed up like any character, vampire or otherwise. But Stephanie Meyer is a Mormon woman, a mother just like me, that I respect for doing something incredible. For that reason, I wanted to watch.
And I’m glad I did. Oprah asked her if she wrote when her children were really small, then talked about how some women sort of lose themselves when they stay at home with small children. I loved what Stephanie Meyer said in response. She said (forgive my paraphrasing) that when your children are small, you really have to lose yourself in their care. Because they are so small and they need so much and they have to be your number one priority. But then they get a little bigger, and you start to have more time for other things as well.
Now, before I really get into the meat of this post, let me first say that I know how important it is to exist as a woman, in addition to existing as a mother. I’m a writer, for heaven’s sake. I don’t stay up into the wee hours of the morning to write because it does anything to provide for the physical needs of my children. I do it for me. Because I love it, need it, feel fulfilled by it.
That isn’t what it’s all about. I think where much of the world’s perspectives are missing the boat is in the idea that losing ourselves in mothering, in the service and care of our family, is a disservice to ourselves and our own personal fulfillment. Really, I think it’s quite the opposite.
When we lose ourselves in the service of our families, when we serve as our Savior, Jesus Christ would serve, I think it is then that we find our most meaningful identity of all. We are mothers… women that sustain and lift and nurture. We are powerful, mighty in spirit, willing to risk all in order to raise up a generation of children that can and will overcome the various challenges of this day and age. We are mothers busy doing the work of the Lord.
I’d say that identity is pretty powerful all on it’s own.
And yet, the world would have us think it isn’t enough… that we have to take care of our own needs and think about ourselves first; that we have to accomplish something bigger, something amazing to truly feel fulfilled. I don’t know about you, but I’m not sure I’ve ever felt more fulfilled than in those tender mercy moments when I see my children learn something important, when I hear a baby’s first “I love you”, or see a struggling child work hard to finally accomplish a difficult task.
As I said before, I don’t underestimate the importance of having personal pursuits; dreams and goals that are important to us as individuals, outside of our children. I need time to write. I need evenings out with girlfriends, time to replenish, to fill my own cup.
I think the key is perspective. If we hurry through the day, rushing our children’s lives so we can have our “me” time, so we can get to what’s “really” important, I fear we may look back and realize that what’s really important actually slipped right through our fingers.
One day, I might be published. Or maybe not. I may accomplish something big. Or maybe not.
But I am mother. And that is enough.