It’s difficult to be part of a family. This statement is true not matter what your sense of family.
For me, right now, it is hard to accept that goals I may have for myself, are not plausible goals to inflict upon my family. Goals which I have always held, must be put aside so that I can raise my kids and be a loving wife. These are roles, wife and mother, that I chose, and while the choosing of them did not at the time of choice, mean that I was going to give up my other goals, life moves unexpectedly forward and some things are beyond my control. I am going to list some of these things for my own processing purposes:
Example 1: It is not realistic to believe that I could go back to the conservatory and finish a degree in Music Education – this degree might not create a job and while it was being obtained, it would require my family move with me to another city, one where a job would not be easily found which would support said family. I can however, go to Sac State and obtain a degree in English, which I also love and will love to teach, while not causing too many waves for my family.
Example 2: Living in a big city/moving back to my small town home
Both of these options, when mentioned to friends, seem as though they might one day come to fruition, but the fact of the matter is, a big city would be too hard for the kids – they would need constant child care so that my husband and I could work full time to support them and a small town would not have the job availability for us to support ourselves. This example hits me hard, because I have never ever liked where I am living now, and more and more I feel pulled to stay here and be content with it’s parks and schools and decent community. We have found a wonderful church home and with and around it a wonderful group of friends, but thinking that we will always stay here, that my kids only know this as home, makes me cry even now while writing this. How do I find contentment with something I’ve so long despised? How do I change my heart and mind so completely as to embrace this place without feeling as though I’m deluding myself and those around me? Dear Lord, help me be content.
Example 3: my schedule
Okay, this is not exactly a goal, but something that I realize needs to be loosened. I am a very VERY schedule oriented person. My mom and dad visited last week and told me how I used to schedule myself as a child and that I thrived with a schedule, but without, fell apart. Lo and behold, here I am, almost 30 and I still do not function well unless my entire waking hour is scheduled. Doesn’t sound too bad right? just like I’m a bit organized with my time right? Why does this need to change? Because my schedule is selfish. It does not take into account the wants of my children, who are now old enough to have real live ideas about what they’d like to do in a day, and following their crazy mom around is really not one of them. My schedule includes my school schedule, my work schedule, appointments for me and my family, friend dates, knitting classes, all things that I have control over, but it does not include the multiple play times the kids would like, or what my love would like to do when he gets home from work. So how do I change that? How do I even comprehend that while people like to make their own schedules, they don’t especially need their entire day planned out so they can share it with me. tough, right?
What makes all of these accepting and bending and tying of new knots even more difficult is that we live in a society which publishes article upon article about taking care of yourself first; doing what you like to do so that YOU as a person feel whole and YOU feel fulfilled. having YOU time…etc. All this YOU, YOU YOU, me, me, me, creates rifts in a families bonds which are not easy to renew. If I leave every day and do something for me, my kids start to feel like I am not there for them when they need me – they begin to throw fits when I am home and when I leave on even the smallest errand – my husband feels like I leave only when he’s home, etc. Part of being a family is making that YOU all encompassing. Having YOU time becomes going to the park with 3 kids and a husband and sitting on the grass and talking, playing games that one person(me especially) would rather not play, but because we’re a family, we play together. It means making sure there are times when we’re all together and don’t especially have a plan for what we will do.
Extending this into a metaphor beyond my own family – isn’t this how any community works? If a person is to be part of any community, it takes bending his/her own wants and needs to fit into the wants and needs of a greater community. How do we build each other up, how do we support each other and laugh and enjoy each others company? How do we make strong connections that reflect not only one person, but each person individually – How do we use all of our strengths together? How do I let go of myself and enjoy being part of something else? All of this working together feels like it’s pushing against the grain of society and human nature in general, but for thousands of years people have lived and created communities together – has it always been this hard to work together?