Last night, JonPaul and I were out on a date in New York, when he casually asked me what at first I thought was a simple question; “What do you want?”. And then he probed a little further, “what do you want with your life?”
I don’t know. I want what everyone wants. I want to be happy and healthy. I want our kids to be healthy and happy. I want to spend time with family and friends. Maybe go on a few family vacations. Eat some great food. Isn’t that what everyone wants?
And then, of course, he pushed harder.
“Yes, that’s what everyone wants. But more specifically, what else? What do you want, for you? What are you searching for? What do you really want?”
I paused for a moment because I hadn’t ever really thought of myself as “searching” for something or wanting something more. But maybe he was right.
So I answered him with the first thing that came to mind, but something I don’t think I had every consciously thought of before last night.
I want to feel accomplished. Like I’ve done something. Created something. Achieved something.
Without hesitation, JonPaul immediately began to list all the ways in his mind I already have accomplished…
Giving birth to and raising four kids
Turning multiple houses into “homes” for our family
Starting a blog
And as he spoke, the thing that struck me the most was that as quickly as he could list all the ways he felt like I had accomplished something, I could just as quickly respond with why those “didn’t count”. Why those things really weren’t “accomplishing” or “achieving” anything.
And then he finally asked me the question he had probably wanted to ask from the very beginning….
“When are you going to be enough? When are YOU, exactly as you are, going to be enough for you?”
And to be honest, I couldn’t answer him. Because I don’t know.
I hadn’t ever really realized that I looked at myself through that lens. Through the lens of not being “enough”, for me. That somehow I wasn’t living up to the unspoken contract I had created for myself. An agreement I didn’t even know I was entering. That as a woman and mother and friend and daughter – all that I’ve done in those roles somehow isn’t “enough” by my standards. That I’m not enough. And it made me sad.
I know consciously I have a truly beautiful life. I’m so proud of the woman I am, and the life I’ve created for myself and my family. But deep down. Subconsciously. I think there’s a part of me that feels like I should be doing “more” or should have accomplished more by this time in my life.
I lay my head down on the pillow at night and instead of feeling proud and joyful of all the things I HAVE done; I see the lack. The things I didn’t do. The items still left on my “to-do” list, both big and small. The dreams pushed aside, or passions never pursued. The chances I never took, relationships I never fostered, conversations I never had. All the ways in which I somehow let myself down or “wasn’t enough”.
And I’m tired of feeling this way. It’s exhausting.
I think as women, and especially as mothers, our identities and roles (in and out of our home) can feel so grey. So many blurred lines of who we are. We (or at least I) can get lost in motherhood. It can be so easy to let our identities and sense of accomplishment feel connected to our roles as mothers. That the never-ending pile of laundry or never-ending needs of our children somehow correlates to how much we’ve done or accomplished. As if what we’ve accomplished within the four walls of our home equates to our self-worth.
And I know that’s not the truth. So much of what I’ve accomplished in my life I know cannot be measured or even seen. Consciously I know that. But I think changing that subconscious narrative is going to take a little more work.
I’m not sure how to change that. I don’t have the answer today, and it’s for sure too big of a question for me to answer on this short trip to NY. But I know I need to make a change.
I need to stop comparing myself to others. To stop comparing myself to the wildly unrealistic expectations I set for myself. And instead, see myself through a lens of abundance. To feel proud and accomplished – exactly as I am, right now. Career or no career. Kids who are a hot mess or huge success. A home that is unfinished or magazine worthy. To give myself grace and patience and compassion knowing that I am not my accomplishments. I am not my “to-do” lists. And that I am enough, right now, exactly as I am.