I didn’t set out to do this.
Writing this. Right here, this blog that you’re reading. In fact, I didn’t set out to be part of this team or this blogging network or even to write blogs at all. This was never my plan.
Let’s take it way back.
Once upon a time, I was an over-zealous, self-righteous, elitist college student who was determined to validate her existence with lofty degrees and professional credentials that commanded people’s respect. I dreamed of writing, yes, but I wanted to write academic books that made me sound really smart. Higher education was my ideal because, in my mind, that was where I would get ideas for all my super smart books. If I am highly educated, I said to myself, I will be highly valuable.
Because deep down, I didn’t really think I had anything worthwhile to say on my own.
My educational pursuits came to a sudden halt when I gave birth to my first child during grad school. I initially planned to continue, but due to departmental constraints, I ended up simply bowing out and looking for a big girl job. If I excel in my career, I said to myself, then I can be a strong, feminist role model for my daughter. I remember opening the Yellow Pages (in 2008, it may have been the last physical phone book I ever actually read) and flipping through categories to see what sounded interesting. Then I called businesses in those categories and asked if they were hiring. That’s how utterly clueless I was as to what I wanted to do with my life.
While my bizarre method actually did produce a pretty decent job, it wasn’t as fulfilling as I expected. I just need to find the right job for ME, I said to myself, then I will truly “find myself” and discover my self-worth. Including my time as an undergrad and a GTA, I had eight different jobs during the first six years of my marriage. My last job was a temporary gig where I did some writing, and I told my husband I wished I could do just that. He said these words to me: “Babe, I don’t care what you do. Just pick something and stick with it.”
It was then I decided to become a stay-at-home mom. At that point I was just a few weeks shy of delivering my 3rd child, so it wasn’t like I was brand new to the momming deal. However, I was still trying to find my stride in that role. I more often felt like a kid with a super-long babysitting gig than an actual adult parent, so being a stay-at-home-mom seemed like the perfect way for me to embrace my identity. This is the one thing I can do with all my heart! I will be a great mom, I said to myself, then I will feel like a real grown-up, and people will treat me with respect.
Maybe you’re noticing a pattern.
While I have always been a generally positive, outgoing, friendly person, my deepest sense of self has long been characterized by insecurity and a lack of self-confidence. These feelings of inadequacy have driven some of the most significant decisions of my life, and while I’m being honest, I still struggle with this. I have never felt cool enough, smart enough, funny enough, experienced enough, fill-in-the-blank enough to do most of the things I know I should be doing with my life.
Shortly after my 3rd child was born, I started what I thought would be a weight-loss journey — and it was, but it was so much more. Truly it was a spiritual awakening, an emotional becoming, an opening of self to see who God created me to be and some specific things he has called me to do. One of those should not have surprised me like it did, but of course, it was writing. Cue insecurity: I can’t write anything, I said to myself; who would even care what I have to say?
Eventually I mustered up the courage to talk to a friend of mine who is an editor. She suggested I start a blog, just for practice. I scoffed at the idea. Bloggers are self-indulgent, wannabe authors who think the whole world needs to hear their every musing, I said to myself. I want to be a REAL writer. (This is the appropriate time to barf at my egotism. It’s okay; even I feel nauseous.) The worst offenders, in my opinion, were mommy bloggers. With all the shaming and guilt trips and comparison traps I already set for myself, I simply could not deal with women who thought they had it all together so well they needed to share it with the world in a blog. (Obviously I didn’t read many mommy blogs, because for so many of them this couldn’t be further from the truth.) I’ll NEVER be a mommy blogger! I said to myself.
My husband, confused by my indignance, replied, “But…you ARE a mom.” How could he be so obtuse?! Yes, of course I was a mom, but I wasn’t that kind of mom. “Then what kind of mom are you?” he asked. The truth is, I didn’t really know. I was so busy trying to live up to who I thought others wanted me to be, I never had time to figure out who I really was.
When I started looking deeper into myself, I uncovered all that insecurity that I had been trying to mask with self-righteousness.
It was ugly, and I didn’t like that person. I found some other issues in my heart that I didn’t realize were there before. So you know what I did? I changed. I started asking myself – and asking God – who I really am, and you know what? I’m the kind of person who has pink hair, even though I never thought I was cool enough. I’m the kind of person who loves being sore from working out, even though I’m overweight. I’m the kind of person who lets the kids make a mess and then cleans like a crazy person in the 15 minutes before my neat-freak husband gets home from work, because I just don’t really care that much. And as it turns out, I’m the kind of person who writes blogs. Mommy blogs, to be exact. Because I AM a mom, and that’s exactly who I need to be.