The tear in my flesh

Jackson Pollack "Autumn Rhythm"

This mothering thing is hard. No one really tells you how hard it will be. Or maybe they try and you just can’t believe it until you live it on your own. No one tells you that your heart will be torn in two and you will go through repeated cycles of trying to figure out who you are and how to match your independent desires with your desires to serve and love your family well.

No one mentions how messy it all is – that the desires will never match up, will never fit and yet somehow it all comes together anyway, but it looks more like a Jackson Pollack painting and less like Michealanjelo.

Before we were mothers, we were all something besides…mothers. We had dreams and longings and aspirations and desires that went beyond cleaning and scrubbing and washing and drying and refereeing and surviving.

When motherhood sets upon us, those dreams don’t disappear, but they do shift. Our desire to be Mommy becomes so much stronger than any other thing we’ve ever felt and we give ourselves wholly and fully to the task and yet….there remains something else inside.

The truth is, I sometimes feel like a big failure for not accomplishing more before I became a Mom. And I fight the feeling of failure for not attaining more even after I became mother. I compare myself to others and I wonder why they seem to accomplish so much and I can barely get through  my days.

Then I remember that every journey is different.

I wish I was finished with this novel. I wish I could write it faster. I feel like I’ve failed already for taking so long. But the truth is, this is the best I can do. I cannot stay up until all hours of the night writing, because that’s not how I operate or function.

I can’t do this any faster and still do my job as Mom well. I’m learning to be okay with that.

I wish I had more time. I wish it were easier. I wish I could accomplish more in the few hours I have alone. I wish I could shirk every other duty and focus solely on the one thing I want to do the most – finish this book.

But that is not where life has me right now. Right now I don’t have the solitude needed to be a great writer. I do, however, have everything I need to be a great mother. I have all the tools and all the abilities and all the time to excel in the role that matters most.

I will finish the book. I know that I will. But it’s taking time – so much more time than I want it to. I won’t finish it in the wee hours of the mornings because I must sleep in those hours so that I can be alert to pour all my energy into my number one job. And I will save a bit of time, a bit of energy for the desires and longings that are mine and will work fervently in the little time I have to reach that goal.

But it won’t be a quick ascent. I am the tortoise in this race. I’ll reach the finish line, but only through perseverence because I’ve found that, for me, slow and steady is far more successful than fast and furious. I’m much less prone to burn outs that way.

Lisa-Jo Baker wrote a wonderful post on writing the other day. It has encouraged me so much. If you feel like you’re always a step behind, like you can’t keep up, I suggest you read “If You Wish You had an Island to Write On Alone.”  This quote by Madaleine L’Engle bounces off my soul and clangs inside my heart:

 

“I uncovered the typewriter. In my journal I recorded this moment of decision, for that’s what it was. I had to write. I had no choice in the after. I didn’t matter how small or inadequate my talent. If I never had another book published, and it was very clear to me that this was a real possibility, I still had to go on writing.”

 

Day 16: If you, like me, feel frustrated with the longings that war against once another, take heart. It will all come together, and though it may look messy and wild, in the end it will be considered a masterpiece. 

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Comments

  1. This is beautiful and so true. I gave up a job I loved so much easier than I thought I could when I had a baby who needed me. It wasn’t my plan, but it was right. I’m thankful for the peace that has remained with that and now that has led to freedom to volunteer and do some other projects that have been on my heart for awhile. It’s slower than the before-kids me would have done them, but I’ve been reminded so many times lately that this mothering thing is an investment like no other. Hang in there, you’re creating a beautiful masterpiece.

  2. It is a season and SO worth the effort when you see them as adults. I get to gather all my adult men (and gals) for dinner on Saturday night and will give thanks for that season….and this one, which my hubby and I are thoroughly enjoying! Stay in HIm and write when you have time!!!!!

  3. “I sometimes feel like a big failure for not accomplishing more before I became a Mom.”

    Ima just “amen” that (for me) and be on my way. :)

  4. …sigh, i’m catching up on your blog today warring against my own feelings of inadequacy. these were encouraging words today lady. thanks

  5. Surely there’s a happy medium in the dream and motherhood somewhere…but I’m sorry to say I’ve not found it yet. That’s not to say it can’t be done…I guess the important thing Kelli is to keep following the leading of the Lord. When He says write…then write. When He says go play with your kids…then go play with your kids.

    That’s all I got. That, and thanks for this post.

  6. Boy, I have the same issue. Just the other day, I asked my small group to pray for God to give me wisdom about finding balance in my life. I love writing, but I love my family too and I know they come first. It’s so hard when I see the potential of what I could accomplish with more time (my dream), but can’t even seem to get my dishes clean. Lovely post!

    • It is the part of motherhood that is most difficult to reconcile, isn’t it? The two desires that tug and pull and so often do not intersect. Thanks, Kate. :)

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