Redefining Success

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I have always been under the assumption that once the “right” thing (car, career, husband, house) was chosen things, life, got easier, better.  This way of thinking quite literally makes no sense.  The most successful people I know work more intense hours and have more poeple’s livilihoods resting on them.  The “right” thing doesn’t make life easier, it just makes life more focused.  Perhaps this is why I have had such a hard time finding my stride, my way of living, my way of parenting; focusing has never been my thing.  OR perhaps, it’s that the fact that for the past 10 years, my mind as been inundated with the idea that if you love what you’ll do, you’ll never work a day in your life.  This prevalent phrase meant to inspire one to go after their craziest dreams and that life will all work out, leaves me feeling incompetent and uncomfortable. The problem I have is that I can’t understand how to correlate the fact that I struggle, while it looks like everyone else is breezing through their days.  However, this idealogy neglects to explain that there is still drudgery and second guessing, boring and difficult parts of your proposed “dream job.”  The fact is that having a job that you love means that there will be time that you don’t want to do the actual work part of the job.
With all of these thoughts floating around my mind, it’s challenging to know if I am doing what I love.  My days at home seem to feel an awful lot like work, however my time at the restaurant is easy, begging the question, what am I doing wrong?  I feel as though, my best self, my best life, comes from being a wife and mother.  My best self, has not come about from waiting tables.  I feel more fulfilled, more whole, more myself when I am caught up completely within those roles.  However, it has not been easy, it has not been without extreme difficulty.  I would guess about 70% of the time, I feel as though I’m in battle.  Fighting to grasp that true self, that fleeting sense of wholeness; before the temper strikes, the laundry piles up, the tv sucks us in for a bland evening at home.  The simple fact of the matter is that being a mom and wife requires a lot of work, a lot of thankless and unnnoticed work (basically the same as a regular job that one would recieve a paycheck for…) and that is okay.  The fact that I do not rejoice at seeing an empty refrigerator on a rainy day with a teething toddler, is okay, furthermore, it is normal.  It is normal to feel the struggle of having to work at your dream job, of having to search for the good.  Holding oursleves to the idea that if we really loved what we did it wouldn’t feel like work (a saying that, by the way, has for sure taught us to be rather entitiled, pissy little children about ever having to use a dustpan) is doing us all a great disservice. I’ve found that what works best for me is to change my definition of success, change the barometer, so that knowing that I’m doing the right thing is not how much work I feel I’m having to do each day.
Maya Angelou said that “success is liking yourself, liking what you do and liking how you do it.”  This is an idealogy I can get on board with.  I like who I am as a mom and wife,  I like that I am taught to practice patience and kindness, grace and understanding everyday, over and over again.  I like that I cook for my family, I love that throwing crayons and picking them up is a part of my job description.  Playing with Eli is the best thing that I can be doing for him.  Making my husband dinner and making sure things are going smoothly at home is the best way that I can support him so that he can further his career and continue to move up within the company  I like that the way my roles as wife and mother are accomplished are by me being home most of the time with Eli, that what works best for not only our budget, but my sanity, is for me to work a couple nights a week.
Motherhood and being a wife have been and will be a continual refining of my person; softening those hards edges of selfishness and anger, polishing love and passion until they are what shine through the most.  They are the two most challenging jobs that I have ever held.  I am overwhelmed and terrified that I am messing them up, all while being so thankful, peaceful and in unbelievable gratitude that this glorious life is mine; all the time.  It is hard, it is painful, it is beautiful, it is worth it.  It is my version of success.

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