Monday, May 07, 2012

Let It Go

Let it go.

That's what I keep hearing. "Just let it go."

It's not coming from friends or family, although they are saying similar things. It's not coming from great articles I've read online or blog posts that pop up on Facebook. I heard it yesterday during Sacrament Meeting.

I'm a very goal-oriented person trapped in a lazy body. Or am I really a lazy person trapped in a goal-oriented body? Whatever the case, I tend to make goals and spectacularly fail at keeping them. It's been going on for a long time now, pretty much my entire adult life.

In fact, I was just thinking the other day how I wanted to write. Still do, but the longer I live, the further the goal slips from my fingers. I attended workshops and book signings and critique groups and I wrote 3 novels (horrible ones, of course) and children's books and poetry and a bazillion blog posts and... Well, I don't anymore. I've tried to figure out why. I know so many writers who make the time for writing, despite young children and housework, and so I know that it can't be my answer. If I truly had the passion to write, I would do it. But I don't. I guess. Because I don't make the time. In fact, if I was going to be perfectly honest, I think I realized that I'm not supposed to right now. Write, I mean.

When I stopped teaching piano lessons, editing for Mormon Women, and doing online marketing/blogging/photography for Avenia Bridal several years ago, it was as if a burden was lifted from my shoulders. I know why (I was spreading myself too thin, ignoring my kids, holding my family to impossible standards, losing my temper more often, etc.), but sometimes I wonder why I couldn't be that woman. The one who does more than one thing. The SAHM who can write on the side or contribute to the world. There ARE those women, you know. Dear reader, you know who they are --you are probably one of them! But I realized, in the hindsight of "quitting the public sphere" that I was not one of them. I am a one trick pony. I am not an entrepeneur, I am not a career woman, I do not "work from home" (unless you count housework as work, which I'm sure we all do), and my service is very limited to visiting teaching (which I'm terrible at right now) and my callings in the ward (teaching and accompanying). When I'm asked to help, I try, though.

Anyway, I think you see what I'm trying to say --I'm a SAHM. I'm a mother. I'm a wife. Those roles are, of course, the most important (well, the mother/wife part --not necessarily the SAHM part, although I would argue that it's an incredible blessing that I can BE a SAHM, and I thank the Lord and my husband daily for giving me that chance), but at the same time, raising these six littlies means:

*I'm really tired.
*Very little time for anything else.

My heart is filled with these unfulfilled desires. Desires for gardens, novels, amazing laundry schedules. I also desire to exercise, eat healthy, lose 40 pounds (yes, it's gone up), and spend time taking care of my aging body (okay, I'm not that old, but still!). I want to travel, to bake bread daily, to spend more time serving others. I think about going back to school, but dismiss the thought immediately before it takes root.

I honestly only have time to take care of my children.

I've been trying to figure out why. Why am I so limited in my righteous desires? Why can't I do more than one thing right now? I'm not asking for fame and fortune (although some freedom from financial worries would be a most welcome respite and reduce my stress). I simply would like to carve out time for my desires. Why can't I have the self-control to eat better? Why don't I have time to exercise? Why can't we have quicker success in Brandon's business? Why did Depression come back to haunt me? Why do I feel so gross in my body right now when I know it's an amazing vehicle that was used to bring six amazing souls into this world? Why do I keep doing this!?

And that's when the Spirit whispered, "Let it go. Just let it go. You can't change your circumstances. You can't do everything right now. You need to let it go and just do what you can do. You can nurse your baby. You can clean your kitchen. You can create new chore charts if necessary. You can be kinder to your husband. You can start making healthier meals. You can turn off the TV more and care less about mud on the kids' clothes. There is time for everything, but for now, your everything is just getting those kids through each day as successfully as possible. This means caring less how you look and more how you love. It also means relying on God more and your own resolve less. Let it go and 'continue in patience.' Let it go and find some peace."

"Still, we mortals quite naturally want to know the why. Yet, in pressing too earnestly for the answer, we may forget that mortality was designed, in a manner of speaking, as the season of unanswered questions. Mortality has a different, more narrowly defined purpose: It is a proving ground, a probationary state, a time to walk by faith, a time to prepare to meet God. It is in nurturing humility and submissiveness that we may comprehend a fulness of the intended mortal experience and put ourselves in a frame of mind and heart to receive the promptings of the Spirit. Reduced to their essence, humility and submissiveness are an expression of complete willingness to let the “why” questions go unanswered for now, or perhaps even to ask, “Why not?” It is in enduring well to the end that we achieve this life’s purposes. I believe that mortality’s supreme test is to face the “why” and then let it go, trusting humbly in the Lord’s promise that “all things must come to pass in their time”.
~Elder Lance B. Wickman, October 2002 General Conference (bold added)


Cristy said...

Cheryl- I feel very similar to what your saying only I only have 3 kids and I love them and am thankful to be a SAHM but wish I had a little time to do something just for me but I am not sure what that would be. I know I am I am blessed and therefore feel worse when I have these feelings. Hang in there and know that I love reading your blogs and benefit from you. Your amazingly awesome even if you don't always see it and writing can be done successfully at any age.

jendoop said...

Cheryl, I like the conclusion that you came to, but I think it stretches beyond that.

Why in the world would you do something that makes you miserable? I don't mean stressing you out by having too much to do, but putting your heart into something only to conclude that it's awful. Look at how you belittled yourself when you wrote about writing. I bet those books are not horrid, I bet there is a lot of good that if edited could turn into a wonderful thing. I know that your work at Mormon Women was great. You're too busy calling yourself a failure to celebrate your good works, to pat yourself on the back and in so doing give yourself the motivation to get back to work.

It seems like the only thing you don't beat yourself down about is your family, which is why you're deriving joy from it. Which is fine, if that's what you can manage to praise yourself for right now then do just that. But don't use it as another tool to bludgeon your dreams and abilities.

I think you're awesome, so I hate to see you treating yourself this way. If I were there I would kick you in the butt and then give you a huge hug. Stop being mean to yourself, praise yourself, love yourself.

Amanda D said...

I notice that I get this way too. I think that it happens at times when I am online a lot and looking at the "perfect" lives of others and I start comparing what they have, do, create, etc to what I don't do. I have to remind myself that I am doing what I really need to do - the laundry, meals, providing homework help, exercising, playing games, snuggling, etc.

I think that there will come a time when I am able to do more (for example, I am doing more this year than I was two years ago).

I think the fact that you realize that you can't do it all and you need to let some stuff go is a sign that you have your priorities straight. And, sometimes taking a break from something (such as writing) makes you come back even better.

Love you, my friend.

Jocelyn Christensen said...

All so true! Thanks for sharing this! I have so been there and will more than likely be there again!

The Conductor said...

"There is time for everything, but for now, your everything is just getting those kids through each day as successfully as possible. This means caring less how you look and more how you love."

I loved this, Cheryl. Thank you! For simply being YOU and sharing it with the rest of us!

Emily said...

"sometimes I wonder why I couldn't be that woman. The one who does more than one thing. The SAHM who can write on the side or contribute to the world." That's how I feel!!!

Yeah, I think we see others and think they do it all, but it's probably all in it's own time. Someone asked me today how I do it all, and I was like, "Wha??" I told her I now clean the house when the kids play (I don't play with them when friends are over). Then I realized later, I've been having someone else (a 13 y.o.) come clean my house! (Up until 3 weeks ago). Then I thought, all the other stuff she thinks I do (PTA etc. etc), I'm not doing right now. But then again even when I am doing those other things, I sure don't feel like I'm contributing to the world... Why do we have that drive?

Mormon Women: Who We Are said...

I felt most antsy when my kids were young. It's HARD work.

That's why. ;)

You are laying the foundation of a great work.

Trust the answers that you have gotten. It doesn't feel like it now, but things won't always be this kind of crazy.

That said, I don't think it's a bad thing to want to do something for yourself once in a while. It's ok to want to rejuve your batteries. I think the trick is finding something that then won't take more of your heart and time than you feel you can give.

Anonymous said...

I already commented about this on Facebook, but I just discovered I can comment on Blogger again, so yay! I guess I'm just here to say I love you. I love you, Cheryl!

Amanda D said...

I was finishing up Stephanie Nielson's book last night and I loved this paragrapph. I felt like she was speaking right to me, and I thought you might like it too:

"I know, now, with out a douby that the true source os happiness, self-worth, and authentic beauty doesn't come from the outside. Women are constantly being persuaded to want something unachievable, to look younger or thinner and above all to fit in because being different is too painful and embarrassing. I have accepted myself in a world that does not accept me, because I have learned - and more than any of the lessons of my accident, this is the one I wish I could teach everybody - that our hearts matter most. Your heart matters most, so be gentler and more patient with yourself, and their hearts matter most, too, so be kinder and more compassionate to others. It's a beautiful heart, not a perfect body, that leads to a beautiful life.

Cheryl said...

Times and Seasons....With a newborn and toddler, that is all you can focus on. The other will come! My baby just turned 2 and while I hardly have any time to do anything extra I am seeing a little here and there and it is both liberating and sad to me.

Mother of the Wild Boys said...

Your last paragraph before the Elder Wickman quote hit me really hard Cheryl. It was exactly what I needed to hear. I know it might not feel the same to you, but the words you write here on this blog, delivered to me in small doses over the course of years, have had a greater effect on me than any novel or book anyone could write. I love you. <3

Cheryl said...

And I love you, random citizen! Er, I mean, madhousewife!

You guys make me feel amazing. Thank you for your thoughts and insights; thank you for your ideas!

Cheryl said...

Oh, and Amanda, I just loved her book so much! And motwb, I feel the same about you. :)

Rebekah V. said...

This post was very timely for me. I am very glad you take the time to share your experience. You can chalk this up as an act of service if you want:) We have a very similar internal landscape and it helps to have someone mapping it out while I try to navigate it myself.