The women came. They sat. Many of them looked at me with blank faces.
Our MOPS meeting had been organized into seven different topics, represented at seven tables with each presenter being given ten minutes to talk; mini-roundtable discussions so to speak.
Excited and anxious, I showed up with 30 minutes worth of quotes, bible verses, and easy to remember tips for my ten minute slot on “Pursuing Your Passions in the Midst of Motherhood.”
Passions happen to be something that I am, well, passionate about. I think everyone should have them, and that everyone would be happier if they were pursuing them—the God given talents, whispers, and interests, that nestle themselves into our souls and demand attention.
Don’t get me wrong, there have been many days since becoming a mother when I’ve wondered if there is time for anything by mothering—when I’ve asked whether it is selfish for me to be pursuing other things; namely writing in my case, but the answer is different for every woman.
“What is your passion?” I asked as the woman came and sat around the table.
There seemed to be more questions on their faces than answers.
“We don’t know,” some said.
“It’s been so long,” said others.
As I sensed their ambiguity I set aside most of the notes I had prepared for the morning. The truth of the matter is, I am no expert, simply a mom struggling to pursue her own heart’s inklings in the midst of motherhood—some days and weeks with small successes, some days with discouragement that comes from trying to balance it all in the middle of life’s business with small kids.
“What did you like to do before you had children?” I asked.
They staring sharing their answers:
“I loved to cook creatively…now it’s all about hot dogs and mac n’ cheese.”
“I loved to sing…I was in a choir for a while!”
“I used to LOVE to listen to foreign language CD’s!”
“I took some nursing classes.”
“I loved to paint.”
“I played the flute!”
As their faces lit up, my heart started to lighten too. I wanted to huddle them all into a circle and keep them there so that we could help each other figure out how to reconnect to those places and pursue them in the midst of diapers and dirty laundry.
I know, they know, that pursuing anything other than laundry, and meal preparation and supervising sibling arguments can seem, well, impossible.
But it doesn’t have to.
It’s as Angela Thomas says in the book Tender Mercy for a Mother’s Soul,
“Energy and skill, practice and perseverance, aspiring, training, becoming—these traits perk up my spirit and call me toward an intentional life.
But just about the time I get inspired, thinking that God has put something passionate inside of me, the world marches in and screams, “Wait a cotton-pickin’ minute! What is all this aspiring, gifted, intentional stuff? You are a mother. You have four small children, for goodness’ sake. You don not have time to be passionate about anything that does not involve a home and kids.
…For me, the question is not how to get more time away from my family. I want them to have the whole 95 percent. The question I ask myself is, “How can I bring glory to God with the remaining 5 percent? Will I squander that time and energy, or will I sue that small portion to pursue my passions?”
That is the question I want to be asking. How can I be a good steward with the few moments and spaces of time that I have left over at the end of the day?”
How about you? What did you like to do before you had children? Are there a few moments in your days or weeks where you could fit that in, even in a very small way? Getting up early on occasion (not every day!) has helped me find extra moments in some of my days, as has paying for a babysitter once a week– I then have to be committed to using that time for writing and reading and not shopping at Target!
Brainstorm, write down the spaces where you think you might be able to find some time, consider when you are most productive (after the kids goes to bed does NOT work for me, but it does some some women) and then make a commitment to carving out those small spaces of time once or twice a week.
I promise, as much energy as it may take to figure it all out, you will find yourself re-energized for fitting it in. It’s an investment that is worth the commitment.