I love my mom. I do.
She is loving, caring. She worked crazy hard, her whole mothering life. She fed us, bathed us, clothed us, made sure we made it to school on time, prepared birthday parties, got us gifts, fixed our bike tire and made us thousands of cups of tea throughout the years. When we got older and went off to college, she drove us to the train station to catch the train to our new town. She made us meals to take, and still did our laundry.
I love my mom. I do.
But the weird thing is, I don’t really know who it is that I love. What are her dreams? Her wishes? Her nightmares? Her beliefs? What is her favorite food? What does she want to pursue? What is her brave? Who is she?
I hoped she would share with me her dreams. Her wishes. Her colors. Her music. Her art. Her words. I wished that there would be lines – which more and more would become shapes, bright and distinctive. That her dreams would become plans. That wishes would become reality. That she would become a person. Someone I would recognize. Apart from me. An individual apart from my six siblings. Apart from my dad. Apart from the dirty dishes, the never ending laundry, the meals she cooked, the tea she made.
Be you, bravely!
My bravery is partly born out of fear. The fear of being nobody. A mom without a face, a dream, a wish, a life. The fear of having three kids who, once grown up, love their mom, but have no clue who she is.
I want my kids to know who I am. A daughter of the King. A princess who loves on other princesses. The encourager. The hot tea drinker. How I love French fries with garlic aioli. I want them to see I care about myself enough to actually take the time to care for myself.
I started dreaming , and I had to face the limits of a family with three young children. But I did dream. And I found myself in that. I got to share it with my husband, which deepened our relationship. I got to share it with my kids, who got to know a little more about their mom.
I started wishing. Wishing is hard. All of a sudden I had to plan – which has never been my strength – to make it happen. It worked out, I found a new part of myself. And my kids found a refueled mom.
I started pursuing my wishes. I explained it to my kids. And they started pursuing wishes. They became more themselves by me being more myself!
It is vulnerable. Raw. Surprising. Fun. Relaxing. There is laughter. Tears. Failure. Victories. New things. But most of all, it is so familiar. Because it is me. It feels like coming home. Coming home to myself. And now I am able to make a home for them, my husband, my children. A home for the people I love the most.
Dear fellow mom – whatever it is you dream of doing. Please, don’t wait until the kids are all in school, the laundry is done, or your to-do-list is dissolved. Don’t wait until you find yourself or your kids wondering: who am I?!
Start today. It can be hard. It might involve planning. Maybe a weekly kid-swap with your friend. You might have to give up other stuff (like a clean house, a homemade dinner that evening).
You might be a bit like my mom. And to be honest, I am like that some days. Somewhere between pregnancies and deliveries, potty training and peanut butter and jelly sandwiches you have lost some of yourself. It seems like you can’t find your dreams anymore. It is hard for you to know what sets you apart from other moms. Not as better or superior, but as you.
Call up your good friend and ask her: Which five words would best describe me? What do you most appreciate about me? In the time you’ve known me, where have you seen me grow?Tell her about your first job. What you liked and disliked about it. Tell her about the day you met your husband, who you were and what he thought was so great about you. Find those little glimpses. Put them next to the woman you are today. Start dreaming. Start looking, you will find her. Maybe behind the laundry basket. At the bottom of that pile of dishes. While rocking your baby. You will find you again.
Once you find it – own it. It is you! Be thankful for those wishes. Those characteristics. Those competencies and skills. Those dreams. And start planning and working and pursuing.
There will be tears, rejection, maybe imperfection in the pursuit. But even those things will make you more real. You are uniquely made. Don’t despise that. Embrace it.
I am the Dutch girl who learned to embrace being an American mom to our three kids (5,3,1). This spring I will be traveling to Ethiopia with Hope in Ethiopia to pursue a lifelong dream.