I hear moms talking around tables with glasses of wine and cell phones in view, should a spouse or child at home need us while we are away for our few coveted hours, about what gives us purpose in life. Maybe we are getting older and more reflective. Maybe we are at the stage when our children are finding their own interests so we are wondering about our own. Maybe we are in the place of realizing that we have put so much purpose on mothering that we want to know if that is all there is for us? I don’t know. But the one thing I have noticed in these conversations with the amazing women I am blessed to hang around with, is that the question of purpose always comes back to the question of passion.
We connect purpose and passion because we long to feel deeply passionate about the things that give us purpose. Yet, for a mom, the things that give us purpose – cleaning, clothing, laundering, feeding, holding and driving our offspring – is not necessarily what we feel passionate about. Most of us would say we are passionate about being moms, about our children and families, but that is different from the day-to-day tasks entailed in such a purpose. And while being a mom is the greatest purpose in the world, it doesn’t have to be the only one.
What am I passionate about? we ask ourselves in the quiet moments of the day. What am I driven to like air to breathing, like dreams to sleeping, like salt to the ocean, like there is no other way I could possibly be? What do I need to do to feel like I am living out my inner self authentically and perfectly as I was created to? We may fear that we don’t have a passion, that there is nothing for us to burn for. But deep inside, if we are truly honest with ourselves, we know it is there. And still, that is not the biggest question, the one that prompts minor (or major) sparks of anxiety in our hearts. The question that can cause even the deepest of passions to be dampened and tempered. The biggest question we barely manage to ask, and never to whisper to another, if even to ourselves, is not What am I passionate about? But What do I do with this passion?
What do I do with this desire and emotion toward something that seems so out of reach? So frivolous or silly? So expensive and time consuming? I am a mother for heaven’s sake, I don’t have time to be creative, artistic, religious, logical, analytical or dreamy. And a good mother would put her efforts into her children to help them explore more of their interests and talents. Right? Wrong! These are excuses, hiding and avoiding the real fear that we might actually be terrible at what we love and turn our greatest dreams into failure. I’ve done it myself.
As motherhood overcame me and took over everything in my life, it took over my desire to write. I felt as though even if I found the time to do it, that I wasn’t even good at it, so what was the point? Then I asked myself one day, “Aren’t you enough either way?” A tiny voice spoke from the bottom of my heart and answered back, “Yes.” So, I dove in. I found three things that served me well in being able to live my passion:
- Sharing the importance of writing with my husband and family so they could support me in making time to do it.
- Putting no strings or demands on it – there is no purpose other than it is my passion and I enjoy it.
- Finding balance so that it does not drain other areas of my life in the process. If I am living my passion but I am spending all our savings, it doesn’t feel good. If I am spending all day writing but my house becomes a train wreck, I have to make some adjustments.
Our passions do not need to swallow us up or take away from our roles and responsibilities. Passion is the seasoning on the meal. The dressing on the salad. It has to be there, but to add spice and energy to this beautiful life we already get to live.
Passion is scary. It calls us and pulls us and tells us we need it. But it doesn’t promise us anything. Our sensibility tells us that passion can lead us off of a big giant cliff. So, what if it does? What if you discover that when you thought you would fall, you actually begin to fly?
You are in charge of your passion. It is not pointless or empty or a waste of time. You can explore it and fuel it any way you want, but ignoring it or minimizing it is like telling yourself you don’t matter. And you do. This is the tiny voice in the bottom of your heart calling out to you, Yes. You are enough either way. Whether you live passionately or not, whether you dive into your passion and make a big splash or do a giant belly flop. Whether your friends and family think your passion is stupid or awesome. Whether your kids join in on your greatest adventure or you continue to sit in on theirs. You are enough just as you are. So why not be true to who you are in the process?
Krissy Dieruf is a licensed marriage and family therapist and has always loved working with kids, especially the ones with crazy hair and a rebellious streak. She often finds herself singing and dancing around the house and tries not to embarrass her three children too much.