Recently, I have been listening to more PodCasts. Actually, that statement isn’t entirely true since the HONEST truth is that I just started listening to PodCasts a few months ago. I’m clearly behind on my PodCast skills, with less than 20 Shows in my library (feel free to suggest your faves!). My husband LOVES this version of ‘knowledge finds’… his vegan game is strong and he has hit the mother-load with his new PodCast buddies. I, on the other hand, started with Dax Shephard (Armchair Expert)… because I needed a good laugh. He is my MOST Favorite of all… and Arm Chair Expert is my much needed laugh-out-loud comic relief with great stories shared between Dax (& Monica) and his guests…I was so needing this in my life! I also listen to Oprah (she is my compass in most all things), Katie Couric (her story and perseverance won my heart many years ago), Rachel Hollis’ RISE PodCast (OMG I just saw her Made for More Movie/conference highlights…it was AMAZING!! Her book Girl, Wash Your Face should be in your hands ASAP), TED Talks (proof I don’t live under a rock), and others including a few travel guides, Mom advice and a kid’s podcast, Brains On! Science Podcast for Kids (where we have uncovered How Animals Breathe Underwater, the fun of Mystery Sound Extravaganza!, and my son’s favorite: Animal Farts. Good times.) As you can see, I’m well on my way to uncovering lots of great advice, inspiration and fantastic trivial knowledge!
With all of that influx of fun and claimed facts, of heart wrenching interviews and interviews with topics and descriptive language I can’t even roll through the drive-thru playing … I’ve stumbled upon a truth in my life that I think I knew was happening but had NO IDEA how to pinpoint it. You ever do that? You KNOW something is changing, shifting, influencing, making one part stronger but a very important part that you can’t quite name is losing the battle? You hear it at night, tap-tap-tapping at your subconscious but you’re too focused on how the morning is going to play out or you’re making your list of righting today’s wrongs tomorrow, that you literally ignore that oh-so important tapping. And, to be honest, looking back I can see that there were times I reached in and recognized the need and took steps toward them. But, like most moms I stuffed that down and said ‘one day’.
I was married at 23, and earned a 4 year degree at a nearby university. Landed myself in a job I loved working with counselors and middle school kids, trying to bridge the gap. It was crap pay, as most all social service positions are, but so rewarding (as most social services employees claim)! Then, at age 30 we had our first daughter, and I found myself having a hard time going back to work. It didn’t take much for us to decide that I would stay home for 6 months…then we would assess. After 6 months I said “I think I want to wait until she’s a year old… all of the books I’ve read really stresses the importance of bonding the first year!” Now… two things should be noted here. 1. I admire working moms… they seriously are SUPER Heroes in my book and after 15 years of mothering, I’ve not met a kid that I would say “his mama should have stayed home a year to get that extra bonding”. Nope. Not once. 2. I LOVED working. I never had a plan to stay home. My own mom worked long hours as a nurse, and I remember how proud our family was when she graduated with her RN Degree. It was always my intention to work outside of the home and be a great mom, too. This was a total mind shift that in reality I didn’t give much thought to… I just acted on my intuition(and post-baby emotions) and luckily my husband was on board. If anyone loved that baby as much as I did, it was her Dad and together we agreed I’d stay home and give this ‘Stay At Home Mom’ thing a shot.
I could go on and on about how that decision made my days long and hard, and some mornings I simply wanted to throw in the towel. But how I never missed a play, sporting event, or chance to volunteer in the classroom. You’ve heard it before, and it’s all true. There is no ‘better’ way to parent. It’s a crap shoot. You pick your path and hopefully it’s a great journey, but more than likely you’re spending a lot of time just plowing through to get through. And that’s OK. Really, it is.
Until you listen to Rachel Hollis tell you that YOU were made for MORE. And you swear she has just reached inside and tapped on your well-mannered, quiet, inner-self who took the hint years ago and has been in hibernation. And truthfully, it started before the movie, it started with a series of PodCasts that I was listening to and heard a word, The Word of my Inner Heart that has been pushed back for so long…the word that these fun, inspiring, motivating speakers I was listening to kept repeating.
I have lost my curiosity. And it pains me to realize it. I recall telling my husband months ago that I was tired of change…I’m so OVER. IT! His new love of all things plant-based, new marathon shoes, meditation and self growth. What the heck dude? We are growing 3 very active, opinionated, smart and loving kids in this house…we don’t get to do our thing. They are constantly changing the ‘plan’… and we go with it. It’s their time. Seriously. I needed him to quit the ‘stuff’ and get back on the path of plowing through. Together. I was drowning by myself.
With all candor, I would never have considered myself a highly curious person even before kids. Curiosity was for reporters digging deep into a story, scientists discovering life-saving meds, theologians, etc… my instinct is to believe curiosity is for those with lots of time and the internal need to discover. But as I really looked at the word and tried to figure out why it was indeed filling me with dread… I realized that curiosity lends itself to an open heart and mind, to seeking out alternatives and finding fun with creativity, and without curiosity there’s no discovery no matter how small. And that is a dangerous place to hang out. Often times mislabeled the Land of Contentment. This is not contentment. This is fear of turning over something else that you’ll have to clean up after.
Then I sunk into the deep well of regret… the truth that my life was so much like other struggling moms around the world. When you have kids, and interruptions happen a dozen times a minute (for 15 years), well, honestly you decide that hanging on to curiosity is more trouble than it’s worth. Who has time? And you know what happened to the cat and all..
This is not to say that all moms are in this boat. There are many excellent moms who are running their kids to STEM courses across town, themselves volunteering to share the research they’ve studied on to help encourage the flow of their brain-star’s potential, and others who have found a way to showcase their creative side all because they knew they had to feed their curiosity. These women are RockStars, and God bless them for understanding the importance of holding tight to their needs! But I know that I am not alone…there are moms like me who pushed that creative curiosity down so far that we don’t have any idea what it looks like anymore.
Like the stain on the stairs, or the dried experiment left in the backseat cup holder, I find myself rolling my eyes a lot in the name of curiosity. What creativity blossoms when my daughter gets curious with making different versions of slime? Who Cares?! Seriously, the word slime makes me want to hurl something…because all I can think about is the freakin’ mess she’s about to make. (I’m pretty sure the stain is from slime, though her poker face isn’t giving her away.) I’ve dug deep into this world of mommin’, gave it everything I have to raise well balanced kids, with a house that is (somewhat) pulled together and basically released any personal ambition for their christian/academic/social success.
Oh. My. God. I am my worst nightmare. To save some face, I am not a helicopter parent. But I could seriously be one if I wasn’t so exhausted.
But not today. Today I am awake with the possibility that I have more to do, to explore, to discover. That I am in a battle with myself and if I’m not careful I just might win, and the curiosity will be pushed down further…and that would be devastating.
So here I am with the realization that something has to give.
And there it is, the gentle tap. Reminding me that being curious was a gift, not a nuisance. That my children are doing just fine and that it’s time to find something that gets me curious. That it’s time to wake up. That it’s time to find what more I’m made for.
Along with being a romantic, I’m also adverse to anything that smacks sappy with our current pop-culture lives. I want to be real clear, I know my job as a stay at home mom has been super beneficial to my family and certainly served my own needs too. So I don’t think I’m at all entitled to ‘more’. I’ve been blessed beyond belief, and watched my true heart’s desires come to fruition with a tribe of my own, including an adoption story and a house with a pool! I’ve also suffered with anxiety and deep sadness, depression, disappointments and failures. Life is no joke, down right hard. Mine has been easier than others I know, that I won’t argue with. But we all have a story, and mine is not always my favorite but it’s the one I would choose again and again.
I’m sure that this stirring in my heart is the beginning of a transition, a new season in my life. No worries, I’m not ready to drop everything to go find myself in Bali. But I am looking ahead to see what fun path I can embrace.
I think that’s called curiosity.
^^Do yourself a favor, go grab the book shown above. Rachel Hollis’ Girl Wash Your Face is an honest conversation about personal goals, perspective and finding your truth. You can find an excerpt here.