When my first child was born, the decision to quit my job and stay home took a split second. It would be bliss.
Bliss exists in motherhood but can be difficult to find, and I soon questioned my decision. Between the lack of sleep and the whole uncertainty of what I was doing, I needed patience and grace – and was blessed with three more children. Staying home with them has been the most amazing challenge and incredible learning experience I will ever have.
Along the parenting journey, I felt a sense of longing and loss. Who was I now? Some of my friendships dwindled, hobbies subsided and returning to work was no longer feasible. How do I find myself again? Bravely, I decided to search.
I spent time in meditation and cleared the cobwebs away from dreams that had been piling up. I listened for every hope and idea I wanted for my life. Some were small; others profound. The renewal of my spirit began simply when I started to study me. I fought my inner critic: it found many reasons these dreams could not come to fruition.
An old interest in the piano came to the surface, I hadn’t played since third grade. Learning to sew and knit seemed interesting – I had skills in neither. Despite the fact I had never written a thing, a lifelong dream to write emerged.
My piano playing skills didn’t advance beyond a 4th grade level, but I can read music again. I have sewn three pillow cases, all crooked, but they fit over the pillows. Bonus – my kids love the fun patterns. I spent five months knitting a sweater, and I feel very proud when I wear that misshapen thing – at home, never in public. And my sleepy dream of writing has been awakened by a simple writing course.
In the course of my self-exploration, my husband decided purchasing a camper and camping every weekend in the summer would be fun. This city girl learned camping is one of the most rewarding things we have done as a family – cooking, hiking, swimming, enjoying, being. Yes, it is dirty, and it gets really cramped in our tiny camper with two adults and four growing children, but we are together.
Surprisingly, these simple activities had a huge impact on my spiritual well-being. Feelings of self-doubt had crept in and stayed, and learning new skills and activities brought me out of limbo. In that searching process, I had to find the courage to be me.
We may not have someone cheering us on to try new things that may seem silly, so we have to rely on our own bravery that says, “You matter. Your ideas matter. You’re doing a good job, and you’re allowed to chase your dreams.” (Even if it comes in the form of a lopsided sweater.)
Angela Wehrspan is a mom to four lovely and crazy children. She attended MOPS for eleven years and is currently a member of MOMSnext, both at Lutheran Church of Hope, West Des Moines, Iowa.