No other decision in my life has prompted repeated episodes of existential crisis quite like my role as a mother (and that’s saying something for a writer).
My children are not only my greatest light, they have also cast out some of my darkest shadows. I’m supposed to be guiding them, but in truth, they have channeled the best of me. They don’t know it, but my children taught me to declare what I value, to be honest about what I can balance, and to be clear on what I will compromise. It’s a lesson I needed to learn – that only they could teach me.
Since the moment my children entered the world, I didn’t want to view their care as work. Motherhood isn’t a job. It’s not a career.
Becoming a mother became an extension of who I am. It deepened my relationship with their father, the Carpenter. It shifted my friendships. It altered my perception of the world. It heightened my consciousness, amplified my anxieties and expanded my faith. And let me assure you, it made me appreciate my parents in ways I was oblivious to before.
But I was kidding myself when I thought I could have it all, do it all, and be everything to everyone. I don’t look at motherhood as a sacrifice – ever – yet there are brief moments where I resent myself for not having achieved more in my career. It’s about choices and I own mine. Still, I question if I’ve done right by my family. Would we be farther ahead if I chose differently?
I owe this column to my children, because they inspired the idea from the beginning. They gave me a voice that is as authentic as my love for them. My children didn’t hold me back from a career; they inspired one.
And they know it comes at a cost. It means exposing a piece of our lives to the judgment of others. It means they have to trust me to share what’s okay. And it means I work a few jobs to keep this dream alive. They respect that.
Mother’s Day happened for me late one Sunday evening in January. I had three deadlines to hit first thing Monday morning for corporate clients. I hadn’t left my office all weekend, except for bathroom breaks and sleep. I was maxed out and cranky.
Before bed that night, my daughter knocked on the door, interrupting my workflow, which is a no-no. I was about to sternly remind her, when she handed me a pink Post-it note with a quote she’d found that read: “You are enough. You are so enough. It’s unbelievable how enough you are.”
She stuck it to my computer screen, kissed my forehead and walked out the door. Just like that, she broke my heart and healed it in one small gesture. Profound.
That’s when it hit me that I don’t need to be the best mother in order to look good to my friends, colleagues or any of you reading this column right now. I only have to do my best for the two children who have expanded my heart in ways I didn’t even conceive possible. I’m not sure who is raising whom here, but I am grateful for their guidance. I would choose it all again.
I wish all mothers this clarity: You are enough. It’s unbelievable how enough you are.
Writing has been my passion since I learned how to hold a pencil (which I still cannot do properly). Despite my father’s insistence that I would starve to death in this career, I remain well fed and eager to write more. They say you should do what you love: I love to write.