#71: Ya’ Never Know

#71: Ya’ Never Know

This is a big week around here. My youngest turns two, and in less than a week, her sister turns four. So pony rides at nearby stables, Chick-fil-A, Minnie Mouse cupcakes, and lots of extra squeezes for them are on the menu. Yowza, how time flies!

As much as I could write a tribute to the balls of spunk that are these girls, I thought I’d say some other things today. I came across this, written by me at age 36, when I was going through some old journals recently:

I’m still not sure how I’m feeling about never being a mom.  It’s a little sad.  I think I’d have been a really good mom.  My heart actually beats a little faster just admitting that.  Sometimes, that [motherhood] looks so satisfying, but I have to say, sometimes it really doesn’t.  Maybe I would have been one of those crazy moms, a little bored and spending all my energy on being super-mom. Instead – it will be me, this me in this chair right now.  Dr. Melissa Walker who lives abroad and travels all over the place.

Three and a half years later, I became a mom. My point: ya’ never know!

As I’ve written before, this motherhood thing has thrown me for a loop. I sometimes wonder if what I’m experiencing is common to later-in-life moms.

See, I had that whole other life kind of figured out. Don’t hear me say that everything was perfect! In going through my journals, I griped about co-workers, friends, family and my circumstances as much as the next spoiled American.

But after angst-ing my way through my 20s, and some great counseling around 30, I knew who I was. I knew my strengths and weaknesses, selected jobs that were such a good fit for me that I loved them (most days), and had strong friendships. I could be described as a bit Type A, but then Eastern Europe and missionary life beat a new flexibility into me (thank goodness).

On the other side of motherhood, I felt equal to any challenge. I knew it was a huge responsibility, and there were a few ANNOYING AS CRAP souls who did nothing but tell me, “You’ll never sleep again!” and the like.

(Side rant: Why do people do that? Why do they need to assert their superiority with their minutes or months or years of more experience by constantly stating, “Oh, it gets worse!” I have embarked on a challenge to encourage every newer mom or teacher or wife in my path with words like, “It is so hard, but so worth it and I really think you’re going to be great at it.” Rant over.)

So I didn’t think motherhood would be a marriage of Hallmark commercials and June Cleaver, really I didn’t. But I didn’t realize how it would shift my center of gravity (I’m talkin’ figuratively here, people). My whole identity, knowing who I am and understanding God in me, relationships, how I do life – all of it – changed on me. Who knew to expect that this could happen at 40?

And it’s because of this: becoming a mom later in life means that you are simultaneously going full steam ahead in two different directions. There is the almost 20-year career in a field that I love, working with people I respect, and with countless opportunities.

And then there is this.

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I want the very best for her little brain and her little heart. I want her center of gravity to be home, with a parent, with the healthiest sleep and food and environment and stimulation we can provide. And I don’t think that we can provide that while I’m charging headlong in that other direction.

So I’m home for now – mostly. (I still have my toes in the water with a job I enjoy and get to do at home.) But I won’t lie and tell you that I don’t sometimes look longingly down the tracks in the other direction. I won’t tell you that I haven’t wondered if a more intellectually stimulated momma wouldn’t be better for all of us in this house. I won’t say that the feminist in me doesn’t wonder how I can set the best example for my daughters.

Randy and I make this decision together year by year (sometimes month by month), and perhaps we’re just now beginning to bear some of the fruit. We were at a family wedding recently, and our girls were about the only children there. We were so happy to be there, but honestly, I felt like I was peeling my little monkeys off the wall half the time. However, no less than a dozen people told Randy and I how well-behaved our girls were. Score.

Sometimes, instead of feeling pulled quickly in two different directions right here right now, I can zoom out and see a bigger picture. Instead of sippy cups and fingerprints and glowing articles about old friends changing the world, I can see the seasons of my life. I can see how, for all of the angst I bring to it, God is there in my life and always has been. I see how he gave me a beautiful and grace-filled little story in his Great Story.

And I always remember: ya’ never know.

Melissa sig

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