The sand is light brown, the vastness of it daunting. As I walk on it, the grittiness of the crunch in between my toes surprises me. It is as if I am walking on sugar, as soon as I take a step forward, my footing slips and I attempt to regain my composure. One quick move and I slip, lose my balance, just as my palms try to cushion my fall. I sink into the sand, but without thinking, I breathe deep, and will myself to get back on my feet.
There are times when we all sink. Lately for me, I don’t completely understand my purpose outside of being a wife and a mother. Part of my ambivalence and the reason for my struggle is that I didn’t expect to be where I am today. In my twenties, I remember an encounter with a thirty something lawyer, who had three kids. Of course this conversation gravitated toward where she worked and what type of law she practiced. To my surprise, she said, she stopped practicing law because she felt like she needed to be a stay-at-home mother. At the time, I was appalled, thinking about how she could give up her law practice and how those hard years at law school were lost.
This is a conversation that almost ten years later happened to me. The conversation was a little unexpected and it did sting some because it forced me to confront my own purpose. My own mother asked me if I was going to return to the legal practice and didn’t I feel like I had wasted my education. My stomach sank, knowing that I spent so many years attaining my law degree and practicing law and for the last four years, I’ve divorced myself from this role. I told my mom that I am writing and that I am working on my novel. The last few months, though, I’ve had writers block and haven’t really worked on it. So in one sense, I felt like I was giving my mom a line just to defend my decision to leave the law.
I feel that sink, the plunge of the stomach, wondering what I am meant to do in this life. The substance of the conversation with my mom hasn’t escaped me because it made me reflect on my own purpose. What am I doing? Where am I going? Is writing my true purpose? Should I go back to the law? I don’t have answers to these questions right now.
I know that the sand I am stepping in isn’t quicksand. There is a chance to regain my footing. To take a step. It is just a matter of finding a way out of the sink.
How often do you think about your purpose? How do reconcile where you thought you were going to be and where you actually are? Do you feeling some days that your are sinking? What are ways that you get yourself out of the sink?
Ah you’ve done it again, got me thinking on a Monday morning. You should call these posts Monday Musings or some such 🙂
Well, I worked for 22 years and got where I’d always wanted to, climbed the corporate ladder to the exact height I’d wanted to reach and when I got there, caught up in HQ boardroom shenanigans I didn’t so much like the view. I had intended to go back to work when my daughter was born and at the last minute decided not to. I don’t regret that decision – she is my one and only child and these precious days of her being so very young will be over all too soon so I want to make the most of them. Did I feel I had lost my identity to begin with? Yes, most definitely. Do I wonder what comes next once she is in school? Yes, I am beginning to. But I know I will not to back to my old corporate life. I have learned so much being at home with my daughter. I have moved on. So my next steps although not entirely defined as yet I do know will be different. Which is exciting and challenging in new ways. So I hope you regain your footing but think of it this way – you can do almost anything if it is what you want to do, and it is about what you want, not what you think you should do.
I can relate completely. Although I always knew I wanted a family, I never expected to be a stay-at-home mother. All the women in my family had careers and kids. But for me, staying home just felt right. And as my husband likes to remind me when I start “sinking in the sand,” raising my children is my greatest purpose right now. Some days it’s difficult to let that be enough, but most days I think about all the time I get to spend with my children and compare that to the time I missed out on with my own mother. And it’s worth it.
Your heart is with raising your daughter right now, so it is where you need to be. You need not defend your decision. As a law student and a practising attorney, you were where you were meant to be at that time in your life. You will return to it someday if it calls you; however, life may call you in another direction. It’s hard to predict where will be in ten years from now as life has a way of throwing obstacles at us and opening new doors. It is a lovely adventure. I feel like is much more than a career…it’s an opportunity to make a positive difference in all you touch and those you meet along the way. If you follow your heart, you will always be exactly where you are supposed to be at that moment in time.
No education is ever wasted.
My educational pursuits were in writing, publishing, and literature so our stories are different, but I relate to this feeling of struggling with the path you are choosing versus the path you thought you wanted.
For me, I had to realize that, yes, I am still in debt over my graduate degree and, yes, I am currently doing something I didn’t need a degree to do …… but I didn’t know it then. The path I was on became something different and I wandered down some trails and wound up here. Where I am really happy and confident and proud.
That’s enough for me. It’s not that my past time or money was wasted. It’s that I didn’t know how to get to where I am now except by the steps I took then.
Be gentle with yourself and realize that you don’t know where the path will lead you. Your job is to keep making the choices that are best for you and your family, and enjoy the journey.
Oh yikes. Yes, I think about this a lot.
I feel 100% certain that I’m supposed to be at home with my children right now. It was a difficult transition, but one I felt confident about making. At the same time, I believe within this role of full time mom, I still have an additional purpose. I, too, am writing, but struggling with it. I sometimes wonder if I’m squandering time that I could be using to achieve something with my writing…
As problems go, I feel like mine are good problems to have – it’s a luxury to be here, now, with these boys. When I get overwhelmed with trying to complete my novel, I redirect my focus to my primary purpose. Not saying I always remember to focus on that – I get really carried away in my own head. But when I come back to reality, I remind myself of why I made the decision I did.
Isn’t it interesting how a career so easily manufactures a life purpose? Get up, go to work, research this case, write this code, interview this candidate, on and on ad infinitum. It’s very easy to get wrapped up in the ease of being busy and find purpose in it. In my opinion, you have the harder mental road. Take care, my friend.
Yes, writing is your true purpose. Period. So glad you figured it out before another decade zipped by!
Now I realize that I’ve only being following your blog for a short time, however you write about things that I have given much thought to myself, yet you discuss them much more eloquently than I ever could…The comments to this post are also fantastic.
Rudri – I’m not quite where you are. Yet. There is a plan for me to stay home with my daughter within the year but even when I know that it’s the right thing to do (because I miss her so intensely when I’m away and feel like I’m missing out on so much), I’m petrified of this change.
I’ve worked hard to come this far and to walk away from it and having perhaps to start over in the future is daunting. I’ve made a career change before and it took me awhile to get back onto sure footing, and I shudder to think what being away from the workforce will do. And I won’t even have a novel to show for it.
But then I think about my little girl, and while I realize it could be challenging to stay home with her all day too, at least I’ll be with her at a time when she needs and wants to be with her parents the most. It is but a tiny window and if I don’t take advantage of it now, I know I will regret it.
And you know what they say about regret? People often regret the things they didn’t do rather than the things they did. I truly believe it. I hope you will too.
I don’t know when it happened but sometime in the last few years, I started focusing more on joy and less on expectations. I guess I learned to follow my heart and the chance of sinking has lessened a bit. Yet I also know that things can change in an instant.
I like what Belinda has to say “focus on joy and less on expectations”. And can I tell you something, as a working mom? You still wonder about the direction of your life. I’m facing choices related to my career that are hard, that make me feel like I’m floundering. I think no matter what you do, sometimes you live your life at a crossroads and it can be difficult to find your footing, as you so eloquently describe here. I say, stay true to yourself, and you’ll figure it out. Of that I’m certain!
There is no job more important than raising a child. It’s trite but true. In our case, we made many sacrifices to get by on one income so that I did, very occasionally, wonder if it wouldn’t just be better to bite the bullet and go back to work. Then one day the very well-respected and old-fashioned headmaster of my daughters’ primary school complimented me on my girls, told me that he knew I was very much in the minority but also said that it was obvious to teachers when children came from homes where Mum was able to stay at home to look after them.
I don’t know how it has happened that we so undervalue the role and the work of mothers in nurturing the next generation that we women feel we should be doing something else, of greater value and significance. What you do, each and every day for your family (including your husband) is incredibly important because you are shaping their entire world.
As for your education being wasted? It’s another cliche, I know, but education is never wasted. The knowledge in your head shapes the person you are today, alters the way you evaluate and deal with the world around you, will be passed on in some small way to those around you and will manifest itself in so many ways that you maybe cannot even imagine right now. I can immediately see, for instance, that a knowledge of and experience in practising law can be of tremendous value in the art of writing.
I hope that you can be a little kinder to yourself by finding a way to acknowledge the wonderful and valuable job you are doing at this particular time in your life.
I fully expect to go back to work when my children are in school. Although unlike you, I didn’t have a career before, just jobs. Most of which I didn’t even like. I feel like maybe I should have taken more advantage of this time off than I have.
Suzicate took the words right off my keyboard. The space you are in now is what matters. The space you were in then? All what led you to now. Where will you be? Who knows. And that’s the beauty of it.
I do struggle with this at times too…even though I teach from home. I still feel that way. It’s part of our mother’s baggage, I guess.
I believe we’re meant to be where we’re happy, where we’re fulfilled. Not every day, not all the time, but on balance. If it’s in the working world, so be it. If it’s staying home, so be it. If it’s a mix of the two, that’s fine, too. Life is much too short, I’ve come to realize (and I know you have, t00), to change the direction of our lives based on others’ expectations or judgments. In the end, we’re the only ones who can dig ourselves out of the sand.
It’s a good lesson for all of us. I recall a time when I thought badly of those who chose a career. While I still hold that a mom home with their kids have a bigger hold on their child’s mind than today’s culture compared to a working mom with a latch key kid or who has grandma watch them, I think telling a parent what THEY should do is wrong of me.
Afterall, I don’t have all the details. Parents have to determine if their finances allow it and take into account the benefits it has for the child. I can’t judge.
Whatever you decide, don’t let others influence that decision. Each person has an agenda, including your mom. Writing can be done around family on your own schedule.
I’m sorry you are feeling like you are sinking. I hope you find answers soon.
Oh…and usually if you’re stressed about something, the creativity gets all plugged up and coroded. At least, that’s what happens to me.
Maybe find some way to get some air and walk on solid ground for a bit? You might be relieved to know the creativity will flow again when you stress levels are down.
Now take two pieces of chocolate and call me in the morning. j/k LOL