11/9/11

the meaning of sacrifice

I wouldn't go so far as to call it an identity crisis, but I've been struggling a lot lately with the question of what defines me. The issue can be neatly packaged in this scenario: the Bishop told us we will speak in church soon (not sure when exactly, but he gave us a heads up) and of course they want us to introduce our family. I've been struggling to think of how I would introduce myself to an audience. Would I talk about the things I've done in the past that have shaped who I am? Namely, world travel, art, master's degree, independent bookstores? Or the things that define me now? Children, domesticity, sewing? The things I used to love and that used to be the biggest parts of my identity are almost universally absent now. I can't travel. I can't teach or go to classes. I can't really go anywhere with the little ones at this stage. I do still go to museums and keep up with art history through reading, but not nearly as much as I would like to.
I know this sounds like navel-gazing, maybe verging on egotistical. But when my kids are asleep and I can write a blog post, its okay a little bit. I miss my old life, but I have embraced my new role with vigor and hope and love, and definitely with my whole heart. But it makes me wonder, do we spend eternity changing and changing with every new situation, or do we adapt to situations but never actually change who we are? Am I still going to love everything I used to when the children are older, or am I going to be an entirely different person? I'm not sure if my new role as a stay-at-home mother is changing me, or if I'm changing to fit my new role.
I'm starting to think the answer is to let go. To bid adieu to what used to be my motivators, since they are not accessible to me now, and take in the new ones. Find new ways to keep myself energized. Revel in domesticity, and the centuries of women before me who have done the exact same thing I'm doing. In essence, (maybe temporally, or maybe for good) give up my old passions because I can't do anything about them now, and find new ones. I think I'll be happier if I do.
I guess some feminists might see this as a defeat, but its not like I haven't achieved what I wanted to in life. I sailed around the world, for heaven's sake. But this is the role Heavenly Father wants me to have, and I know that with certainty. I know my children need me, and that is the most important thing of all. Sacrificing for them is worth it; its worth everything.

4 comments:

  1. I think ultimately, it is all just a choice. I don't think you'll ever need to let go of your adventuresome passions; I bet you will one day travel again, and that it is a part of who you are. Though ultimately, you get to decide what is a part of you and what isn't. Just because part of your life is not accessible at the moment, it is still with you. There is an elderly lady in my ward who used to be a fantastic musician. Old age has caused her to quit. But it was an important enough part of her life that I have no doubt it will be with her after this life. The same for you. Even if you can't delve into those interests now, someday, you will be blessed with those opportunities. :)

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  2. Those are some tough questions and issues. I like what Laura said: you get to choose what is part of you and what isn't. Although there isn't enough time in the day to explore all of your passions and interests (no mother has enough time), I hope that you are keeping the things "alive" that help you to feel happy.

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  3. I had this same crisis - only they asked us to speak 3 days after we moved in. Ultimately I described myself as a restless soul.... I'll email you my talk if you'd like.

    I have to remind myself regularly that all I have is right now and today. Dwelling on the past or the future too much just leaves me discontented. How can I maximize my right now? It's the most productive place to spend my energy. But I do that allowing for the fact that this is just a season of life, and while I need to enjoy it so I don't regret wasting it, there are also other seasons ahead that I can look forward to (just not at the expense of the present).

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  4. If you look at it in a certain way, there are a lot of common threads you can hold on to. You love the expanse and diversity of our world and now you're sharing that with your girls - introducing them to all sorts of amazing things and ideas. Of course, they're small now, so you're doing it on a small scale. You love the aesthetics of creation - art, literature, etc. - and now you are focused on creating yourself! Much of it is practical, but no less an expression of what you value. Your world may be physically constricted for these years with young children, but you're still a part of the very same world you've explored and loved!

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