Last week after dinner, I started crying while I was loading the dishwasher. I wasn’t unhappy to be doing the dishes – I was just feeling like a loser.
When you’re little, you’re always dreaming about what you’re going to be. My kids have wanted to be everything from an astronaut to the garbage man, dolphin trainers, soldiers and spies.
I wanted to be on TV – Saturday Night Live, to be specific. I was on my way. I studied voice and piano. I took dance classes. I starred in nearly every play our community theater staged from the time I was five until I left to join a class of 25 bright-eyed babies just like me in conservatory.
I was going to be a star.
Until I got there and realized we all wanted the same thing, and it was going to take a lot of hard work and even more luck to get there. I didn’t give up, but I did change dreams – and schools.
Now, I was working toward a degree in Creative Writing. I traveled to England to study literature and I visited the (replica of the burned-down) theater where Shakespeare staged his plays. I didn’t stand on it, but I did get a photo next to it, young and carefree and ready to take on The Globe … before I knew the weight of it.
I was going to be a writer.
I graduated from college with my fancy degree and not a clue how to become an “author,” which is apparently what you call yourself when someone takes a chance on you and publishes your words.
After an internship at a local magazine, I worked as an editor for a few years before heading back to my hometown. I took a job in fundraising, where I learned the art of using words to ask for contributions to worthy causes, which continues to be some of the most rewarding work I do.
When my first child was born, I took a break from work to do the precious work of raising him. At the same time, my mother was battling cancer, so I had the privilege and the freedom to care for her as she had always cared for me.
There was a wedding. There were more babies. A few different jobs, but none that ever stuck … other than ‘Mom.’
I started this blog. I delight at every ‘like’ and comment that pops up on my screen. It is a joy to connect with you in these magical and mundane moments of motherhood and marriage.
Along the way, I’ve written several stories for children. Two of them are swirling around in my mind … meaningful messages I hope to turn into books I can share with you in time. But when? In between the breakfasts and the laundry and the dishes, I’m trying my hand at illustrating them.
I don’t know if I’m making excuses or I’m just scared. Being ‘Mom’ is a full-time job – but I want the people who call me by that name to see me become what I want to be, so one day they feel brave and ready to become what they want to be.
I am going to be their mother.
That night in the kitchen, I cried because I felt like I wasn’t enough. I wasn’t doing enough or making enough or giving them enough. I cried big, heavy sobs and my husband held me and told me he would do everything he could to make my dreams come true.
Haven’t they, already? There is so much that is good, so much that is more than enough. Sure, there is something special I want to make, but look at what I’ve already made. Look what we do and give and create as mothers.
As my sobs slowed, my face wet with tears, I asked my family, “Are you proud of me?”
And that same little boy who made me a mom – nine years old, too big, too good – came to stand in front of me.
“You know what your job is?” he said. “Your job is to be the best mom in the whole world, and you have already accomplished so much.”
I don’t know what I’m doing. I’m not sure any of us really do. I don’t know how to become an “author” or how to help you achieve the secret dream inside your heart. But I know we can be here for each other, encourage each other as mothers and lift each other up. I know we can raise our children to choose joy and we can teach them to be good and kind.
And if I’m only ever just ‘Mom’ … if it’s enough for them, it’s enough for me.