I made myself a promise this summer.
I often make myself grand promises that never come to pass, usually because I make the promise then remember I’m a mom and will never actually have the time to exercise for an hour every day or spend a full weekend in the sewing studio creating something beautiful. Nope. Moms don’t have the luxury of leisure time, not even while on an extended vacation to the coast.
At least I haven’t.
But this year I made a promise to myself. A promise to make time for something that used to be second-nature to me.
I promised to spend time, if not daily, at least four times a week, writing.
I was born a writer. I can’t remember a time when I didn’t have a notebook with me for jotting down ideas and making up silly stories. My high-school years were filled with long journaling sessions and hours spent lying in the sun on our trampoline scribbling story ideas. I would save my creative writing lessons for the end of my school day so I didn’t have to put a limit on the time. Being educated at home, that was my prerogative ; )
I still have the stacks of journals and recently discovered my old notebook of story ideas on a bookshelf. As I flipped through the hand-written pages, I realized I haven’t kept a consistent diary in over ten years. That kind of writing is reserved for the rare times when I need to vent a hurt or passion that no one else wants to be privy to.
Nor have I written a story in over a dozen years. Well, not unless I count the long narratives of my life that I e-mail to my mom or sisters.
No, my teenage dream of being a novelist flew out the window when I became a wife and mom and let my time be monopolized by the things that NEED to be done: cooking, cleaning, changing diapers, and running errands. That’s what moms are supposed to do, right? Sacrifice everything for the sake of wifehood and motherhood?
That was the message I heard all of my growing-up years. It was an honor and privilege to give everything up to care for a husband and raise the next generation. To a teen, that sounds like a great calling, worthy of sacrificing every talent and skill to fulfill. Now that I’m on the other side and am living that self-sacrificing life, raising the next generation is significantly less glamorous.
I love my place as a wife and my role as a mother. I wouldn’t exchange it for the world. However, something has been missing from my life. I haven’t been able to put my finger on it for a long time. It has been a simple feeling of unhappiness, dissatisfaction with myself.
I’m a decent wife and a good caregiver to my children, but something has been lacking. I’ve been so sucked into the self-sacrificing-mom mentality that I’ve forgotten that I am a unique individual too, and that motherhood is only a short season of my life. Who will I be when the kids are grown and no longer need four meals a day and can take care of their own laundry? I’ll be so far gone from that girl who dreamed of the fascinating things she was going to be when she grew up.
As an idealistic teen, I could wax poetic for hours on the importance of honing my God-given skills and using them to change the world. As an adult, still idealistic yet saturated with reality, I’ve forgotten that God made me who I am, with skills and passions unique to me, and to ignore that is wasting the life He has given me.
Now, as I’m sitting on the patio soaking up the California sun and listening to the birds singing and the wind rustling the canvas canopy overhead, I hear my children’s voices drifting from the open windows. They are completely engrossed in their play, oblivious to me. They don’t need me right now and probably aren’t even aware that I’m not in the house. I’ve noticed I have random moments such as these more often now that I no longer have a nursing baby or a potty-training toddler.
What should I do in those fleeting moments?
When I’m at home, those moments allow me to fold laundry or get the next meal started or tackle an organization task. On vacation, though, the laundry is minimal, there are two women to prep meals, and there is only so much organizing and purging I can do when I’m in someone else’s house! So while my progeny are lost in a make-believe world built of Legos, I can snatch some quiet moments to re-discover myself and revive long-lost skills that were once second-nature.
I promise to write this summer.
I don’t know what I’ll write about. Maybe it’ll be heartfelt journaling or adventurous narratives, or perhaps I’ll delve into my creative side that once conjured up stories inspired by places and times I wished I could experience.
But I will write.