It feels great to be doing something again. I took a nice long break from all things writing (besides the blog); instead reading a whole bunch and enjoying my Christmas holidays. But it feels great to be getting back to it. I'm editing my first book for the ka-billionth time (I've lost track) and at the end of each day (ok, it's only been two days so far) I feel this sense of accomplishment that's just wonderful.
And I realized something...
I've said before that mothers need to find something they love and then find the time to do it. But it's not just about doing something you love, it's about accomplishing something. I find that being a mother doesn't really give me that feeling.
Now before anyone starts freaking out on me- let me just reiterate the fact that motherhood is VERY IMPORTANT. In fact I think it's the MOST important job for a woman. (First I got the housewives all up-in-arms, and now the feminists!) It is wonderful, and very rewarding.
I don't think it lends itself to that gratifying feeling of "I accomplished something." I'll explain why.
Lasting through pregnancy without murdering someone (most likely your husband), getting through labour without screaming bad words at the top of your lungs, and then dealing with all the after nonsense (afterpains, frozen pads, warm-water squeegie bottles, a hideous flabby belly, very sore nipples, and wanting to cry while nursing in the middle of the night because you're just so tired, to name a few)... all of that IS an accomplishment.
But once the baby is here, everything it learns- the first steps, holding it's own spoon, first words- those are all the child's accomplishment- not yours. And then as the kids get older and they play nicely with other kids, or they get good grades in school, dance perfectly at their ballet recital, or score a goal in hockey- again, their accomplishments.
You can claim some sort of credit by saying, "I taught them well," or "I was a good example," or "I helped them practice". And you definitely feel proud. I know how awesome it feels, that swelling in your chest as your cheeks spread wide in a cheesy smile that you can't contain and tears well at your eyes even though you're not even remotely sad. I get that feeling ALL THE TIME. And it's awesome.
But you can't look at them doing those things and say, "I did that." You just can't. Because YOU didn't do it. They did. And good for them.
The other thing is, motherhood never ends. You are never done. Your child is never done. You can finish a book, or paint a whole picture, or learn an instrument. Your child never stops growing. They accomplish one thing- like learning to crawl- only to move on to the next thing- learning to walk. Even once they've graduated from college, gotten a career, gotten married, and had kids, they're still not done- and so you're still not done. I personally can't get that feeling of accomplishment when really, I've only just begun.
But when I spend one, two, three hours working on my writing- whether it be actually writing, editing, or doing research- I go to bed that night and I can say, "Look what I did today. I did that." And the same can be said for whatever it is you do. Whether it be running a marathon, sewing a pair of pajama pants instead of buying them from the store, even making a dinner that the whole family loves- those are the things that will give you that feeling. Something YOU did.
And why is that so important?
Because it boosts you up. It makes you feel good. Smart, strong, useful, important. A mother can't teach her kids to love life and take meaning from it without loving it themselves.
Without loving themselves.
***Disclaimer: This is purely how I feel. There could be thousands of mothers out there who get a sense of accomplishment from raising their kids. But for those who don't get that PARTICULAR feeling, find something you love and do it. Trust me, it works.***