Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Who Am I?

Today I had to travel out to O'Hare for a work meeting. For those of you that don't know, I work part-time from home. Anyway, on the drive home, I decided to pop in the free CD I got at MOPS last week. To my surprise, it was actually pretty darn good and not at all cheesy. Even the songs!

Anyway, one of the topics was identity: Who am I? Simple and trite enough, but what really hit me was when the CD talked about the different ways we define ourselves -- by our jobs (what we do), as well as what people ask us to be (what we do for others).

All of the sudden I realized why being a mom was so hard for me the first year. For years, I defined myself by my career and what I accomplished. People expected that of me (so I thought), and I liked that (read: my pride liked that). I was a hard worker who worked all hours of the day. I traveled. I had crazy deadlines and lots of stress. That was me, and I thrived on that.

And then I became a mom. A mom like every other mom. Same trials, same frustrations, same questions. At times, that was very comforting -- to know others had been through what I was going through -- but it was also a little frustrating. Wasn't I a better mom? Didn't I put in more hours? Didn't I read more books, have more knowledge? Didn't I care more, try harder, and lose a little more sleep?

I am a goal-seeker. I like to succeed, and Emma quickly became my most challenging project. If I do this, she will do this. If I stop doing this, she will stop doing this. And so on.

But it didn't take me too long to realize that Emma isn't a project. She is my child. She won't give me a promotion, a raise (if only!), or a gleaming review. But yet she still loves me.

She knows nothing of my past successes. She doesn't know where I've traveled or what job titles I have held. But yet she still loves me.

What a wonderful blessing that is. A wonderful, but humbling blessing.

Being at home has taught me a lot about myself. When it's just you and a trusting child alone together ALL.DAY.LONG, you quickly come face to face with who you are. The only term I can use to describe it is "raw." Not a pretty adjective to describe motherhood, but in my experience, it is pretty accurate. The best of who you are and the worst of who you are come out when no one is looking. When no one is there to hold you accountable.

And for a while there, I didn't like what I saw. I realized what control issues I had and how much pressure I put on myself. And for what? I mean really, for what?

Don't get me wrong, I believe that there are many responsibilities moms have besides giving hugs, but I also know that at the end of the day, Emma is going to know the real me whether I like it or not. I can't hide behind accomplishments because, honestly, she doesn't care. She just cares whether or not I have her snack ready for her when she wants it.

To her, I am the snack lady, and I am okay with that. Because right now, that is a pretty awesome responsibility to have.

Here's my point: Even though I am a mom at this season in my life, I also know that it doesn't define me. And I think that's an important thing to remember. I think God is using my experience as a mom to shape me into the person He created me to be -- the unique person He created me to be -- but I have to be careful not to make it everything I am. For Emma's sake and for mine.

I think too many of us lose ourselves in our jobs and what we do for others that we forget that there is still a person underneath those things that needs to be nourished. A person that needs to be confident in who they are so that when those things suddenly disappear, we are left with more than a sense of loss. Instead, we are left with the amazing person God planned for all along.

Emma definitely comes first, but I also know that I need to focus on a few of my needs so I can be an even better person and in turn, a better mom.

My first step? Joining a women's bible study this summer. With all of my ministry stuff on hold for the summer, it's the perfect time for me to be fed. I can say I do a daily devotion at home, but then I'd be lying. Somehow, Emma's snacks and the laundry seem to always come first! :o)

So who are you? Yes, you're a mom (or dad, girlfriend, vice president, etc.), but when all of that is stripped away, who are you really? Sure, you can take pride in your skills -- whether they be making a sale or nursing your child -- but at the end of the day, is the person that is left happy... or better yet, content?

I can honestly say I am getting there. The other day after Emma went down for her nap, I peeked in her room and really felt an overwhelming sense of joy. Everything just felt right in that moment, and I thanked God for my blessings. The fact that I had my "career" and now I have what is really important -- my family.

I love being a mom more than any one thing I have ever done in my life, but what is really exciting is that it is just one of the many things God has in store for my life. Only one of the ways I can continue to glorify Him.

So who am I? The answer to that is complicated, but God also makes it simple: I am one of His children. And knowing that makes me want to be more than I am.


Anonymous said...

Hey snack lady! Did you read my blog today? I swear some of the thoughts you shared are the same that were running through my head! :) Love your heart, friend!

Stephanie Wilson she/her @babysteph said...

Oh, I am sure you are more than the snack lady to Emma (although I feel the same way somedays!) And I LOVE those feelings where everything just feels right. That is the best.


Anonymous said...

That just made me cry! It's amazing how all kinds of people, no matter what they do, lose sight of what's most important. And I love that you're Emma's snack lady! But you are much more than that. You are an amazing mother and when sh'es old enough to realize you are more than her snack provider, she'll be thanking God for the gift He's given her in you...(Jeff too!) Love you guys!

Anonymous said...

Thank you for your words of wisdom. I too am a stay at home mom, and it is easy to define myself by how good of a mom I am to my son. It is much better to define myself as God sees me. Thanks!

tracey.becker1@gmail.com said...

It's so wonderful that you can vocalize your life's journey. I'm happy for you that you are making choices that make you happy.

Carol said...

Great words, Lisa! It sounds like you are in a really great place and at peace! God's peace is so wonderful, isn't it? Thanks for sharing this!

Glass Half Full said...

What a neat post!

What that scripture verse about "doing everything as onto the Lord"? Enough said!

i am not said...

Great thoughts, Lisa! I think that having a grateful heart and a grateful perspective means a world of difference. It is the difference between "I'm only the snack lady" & "Wow - I get to the be the snack lady for a few years!" It is a daily struggle, sometimes, to maintain my "jana-ness" and not only be "mom", but it is definitely an important struggle - because I won't need to be "Mom" or the snacklady for the rest of my life - and when the day comes that my girls don't need me as much, where will I be if I only focused on being a mom? I'll be lost and won't know who I am at that point. Good for you for working on this now rather than 15 years from now:)

PS - Grandma Bernard - could you tell I was listening at church last weekend LOL!?