It started with the naughty chair.
I don’t remember what crime she committed – hitting her brother, maybe, or throwing a toy at the dog’s head. She sat there, staring at the wall, kicking her legs back and forth, back and forth. She didn’t say a word until I knelt down in front of her, ready to release her from captivity. Then she glared up at me, a 22 lb bundle of rage. “I no like you, Mommy,” she said.
I got up and walked away.
I remember a similar conversation with my own mother, more than fifteen years ago. We were sitting at the kitchen table, having a heated discussion about where I was going to apply for university. I wanted to go to either Kemptville or Olds – the only two schools in the country that offered certification in Equine Science. My parents wanted me to pursue a “more reasonable” degree – science, preferably, or engineering. “You have the grades to do whatever you want to do, to go anywhere,” my mother said. “I know!” was my teenage response. “I have the grades. I got here myself. I should be the one to choose where I go to school – you did nothing.”
My mother got up and walked away.
I grew up in a one-paperboy town. Granted, that paperboy did on occasion complete his route on his riding lawnmower – but you get the idea. It was a small town! My father grew up in that same small town and my mother moved there from a similar, even smaller town when she got married. My father dropped out of university to help run the family business, my mother finished her education degree and taught for a few years at the college level before deciding to stay at home with her children.
I’m not sure if my parents were unhappy with their lives or if they just wanted more for the three of us, but from a young age I felt pushed to do better. I was under constant pressure to do well in school, to study hard, and to get good grades. Scholarships were my ticket out of that small town and out of that life.
I remember wanting more. I wasn’t sure exactly what I wanted, but I knew that I didn’t want that life for myself; I wanted more.
At first I gave in to my parents’ wishes and studied economics. I worked hard and I got good grades – but those were empty accomplishments. I wanted to do something big. I wanted to change the world!
So I immersed myself in ministry, combining my love for horses and my passion for youth in a position on a ranch for inner-city kids. It was the hardest job I have ever had – but also the most rewarding.
Two years later I was working my way through a youth ministry degree and interning at a local church, where I met Nathan.
And real life set in. Marriage meant a break from Bible college, a mortgage meant I needed a real job, with consistent pay – and kids meant youth ministry – though still a passion – got put on hold.
I never wanted to be a stay at home mom until the moment I held Topher in my arms.
I’ve done it all over the past five years: I’ve worked part-time. I’ve worked full-time. I’ve been on maternity leave, not working at all. I started my own business and worked from home.
I burned out, and I crashed.
Last month I ended my steady contract job and became just a mom.
It was a relief – but it was also a lot harder than I expected. I had no idea so much of my identity was wrapped up in being more! I’ve spent hours researching new business opportunities and potential clients, clinging to that version of myself.
Why? I had no passion for my job and no real desire to continue. I knew it wasn’t what I wanted, but without it I had no idea who I was.
I still want to do something big, I still want to change the world – but I don’t want more.
I just want to be a mom.
Like my mom was.
Because I know now that she was more than just a mom: She was a teacher, an encourager, a writer, an entrepreneur, a chauffeur, a referee, a chef, a confidante, and a friend. She pushed me to do better – but I’m not sure it’s possible to do better than she did. After all, she raised three daughters – all of whom went on to pursue higher education, and all of whom ultimately decided there is more to life than the world’s idea of success.
Honestly, sometimes it doesn’t feel like what I’m doing is all that important.
Sometimes I fall into bed exhausted at the end of the day and yet I feel like I have accomplished nothing. The sink is full of sippy cups, the couch is littered with puzzle pieces and cracker crumbs, and every surface is piled high with some form of children’s artwork.
It’s not at all how I pictured my life, fifteen years ago; it’s better.
I may be “just a mom”, but I am doing something big, and I am changing the world – one ordinary day at a time.