In Which I Ponder the Notion of Being Both a Mama AND Something Else

treesandsunSome conversations change our lives.

Interactions with others make us take our path in a different directions. Some also encourage us to stay on our paths, but to walk with more confidence and courage.

I have been so discouraged whenever I catch wind of the implication I must let my dreams fall aside to make way for what my little baby needs me to be to him. As if I could exist completely and utterly for my son, with nothing else attached to me. There are times when this is necessary. His first three months of life demanded this. It was the hardest thing I’ve ever done.

I really honestly don’t think this, as a lifestyle, is possible for me. It may be something other mothers handle with beautiful grace and happiness. But not me. And I don’t think this means I’m doing something wrong.

Two weeks ago, I wrote about fighting for my life. I thought a breakthrough was on its way.

It’s happened.

There are some dreams and hopes so precious to me, so integral not only to who I am, but who I am supposed to actively be, that I can’t let them slip away. Writing is one of those things. In a conversation I had last week with a kindred spirit, I realized two things.

1. I can be a {good} mama and wife and still write {good} books. It is possible. Women all over the world are doing it. {I added the qualifiers in brackets to make sure it wasn’t implied that I’d be a mom but write distracted and shoddily-produced work).

2. I can’t do much more than be those three above things. I will have to let other commitments go until the time when being a mama isn’t this intense, wonderful and consuming journey that it is right now.

A letter comes to mind:

So here it is, my dear friends.

I’ve entered a season where I cannot be the {social, available, spontaneous, etc} person I used to be.This will affect us.

It does not mean I don’t love you. It does not mean that I would not like to spend time with you. It is simply that I don’t have much time to call my own and I am carefully prioritizing what I do have.

I need the periods while my son sleeps to use for my own work. This work is something that I will weep if I cannot do.

If we manage to see each other, it will likely be contingent on my child’s nap schedule. I can no longer say “I’ll meet you there at 10am.” Life has too many unforeseen delays! 🙂 When the baby is awake, we can take walks outside while my son wiggles his feet in the wind and we’ll both get our exercise, but I can’t slip away to a coffee shop. We might meet in the evening. We might meet on the weekends. But I’ll be spending much of that time with my husband and son.

I have to do this. I have to guard my family and writing or I will lose my mind and my joy. I must be a friend and lover and confidante to my husband. I must cherish and adore my son. I must write my stories.

I am not vanishing, I am not being intentionally cold. I am simply being who I need to be.

If we see less of each other, I still love you. If I start to seem flaky in my scheduling, this is why. My heart is here, in the open. I hope you can understand.

All my love,

Elise

And now I will sit here and imagine those who will read this letter and be hurt, no matter what I say. I do not want that. But I know that I have to do this.

What ordeals have you faced when making tough decisions involving re-prioritizing? What encouragement can you offer?

About Elise

Elise Stephens began her career in writing at age six, illustrating her own story books and concocting wild adventures. Stephens counts authors Neil Gaiman, C.S. Lewis, and Margaret Atwood among her literary mentors, and has studied under Orson Scott Card. She dreams often of finding new ways to weave timeless truths into her stories. Her novels include Moonlight and Oranges (2011), Forecast (2013), and Guardian of the Gold Breathers (2015), a finalist for the INDIEFAB Book of the Year. She lives in Seattle with her family. Follow her on Twitter @elisestephens and Author Elise Stephens on Facebook.

Comments

In Which I Ponder the Notion of Being Both a Mama AND Something Else — 8 Comments

  1. <3

    Our realization was that, for a period of time with small children, we could only attend corporate church services once a month. Attending more often made us stressed and distracted and frustrated with our kids. We want them to ENJOY a service so having crabby parents was counter productive to that goal.

    Out of that experience, my encouragement is this: you very well may be surprised at how quickly this intense season passes. Make your tough choices, hold on to your family and values above all else and then watch it all work itself out.

    • Thank you, Amy! I like your realization that church was not something you could do on a weekly basis. There is much I know I take for granted (much of it probably increasing my stress-load) as something “we just do.” I like that you prioritized enjoyment. And that’s a relief that the intense season is not so long. Every new change makes us wonder “Is this the next normal?” and we never know how long it will last. I will make these tough choices and try to remember to be gracious with myself when I mess up!

  2. This is so beautiful, Elise. Thank you for sharing your process in this new season, and thank you for affirming choices that are right and good for you and your family, even if it’s not what others want. God bless you in this season! 🙂

    • Oh you are welcome and thank you! It’s weird at times to share this struggle, but I also hope that it encourages people like you and helps to spark dialogue that will uplift everyone. One of the hardest things for me is doing things that I’m fairly certain will upset people. It’s something I’ll have to get over, right?

  3. Hey, it was six months after Rachel was born that I started writing. You definitely have the jump on me–more youth, experience, and better skills at this time in your life. We will see you at family gatherings and more as your little one gradually becomes more independent. Do what you need to do, and what you were created to do.

  4. Excellent, excellent! Saying yes to what’s important requires saying no to others and other activities. Well written and well chosen. Good mother, good writer.

    • It’s the saying no that kills me, but making the decision “officially” to reprioritize helps me stick to it. Ah…the real reason I post things on a blog! 😀

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