A Mother's Inspiration
When I went to college, I thought I already knew everything I needed to about who I was going to become. My plans were simple and laid out neatly, like an outfit before the first day of school. I was going to become a teacher, find a supportive partner, have children, and create the kind of secure, happy family life that I didn’t experience as a child.
It seemed easy enough. A few years after I had gotten married and began teaching, my daughter was born. I quit teaching because the pay didn’t add up to cover the cost of childcare and healthcare, a tragic yet common thread among professions held predominantly by women. Teaching had never been my passion, so it was easy to give up. My husband and I made the sacrifices necessary for me to stay home with our new baby and I was fortunate enough to have a partner who provided enough to make that happen.
I recognize I was lucky to have a choice. I fell into the role of motherhood so easily, comfortable with the long, slow days of pushing a stroller around the park and rereading the same picture book over and over. These simple tasks made me feel content, and I never felt I was missing out by not having a career.
This eventually changed. My two children grew and the ways in which they needed me changed as well. There was no longer a need to gently rock them to sleep, replaced instead by packing lunches and carpooling to soccer practice. And while I dubiously fulfilled these tasks with care, I could feel a shift happening within me. I was beginning to panic at the thought that someday these little jobs of love that kept me busy would be gone and I would be left alone with an idle mind. This did not appeal to me at all!
Of all the challenges that motherhood presents, the one that I struggle with the most is discovering what my purpose will be after my children no longer need me as much. This is my current personal dilemma, one that I assume is common among women who decide to stay home.
While I understand that the time I spent raising my children was important, I am discovering that it has left me nearly unmarketable, unqualified for most professional jobs that are available. Had I continued to work, even part time, I would have the advantage of experience and a resume to help me. Yet, PTA secretary hardly translates to professional development, so here I stand at the very bottom of the ladder, looking up. It’s a long climb, but I am grasping the rungs with both hands.
And there is hope! I am lucky enough to have someone who inspires me to reject the fear of rejection, to recognize that finding and following a passion is essential to existence. It is my fifteen-year-old daughter!
As I listen to her describe her insatiable curiosity about neuroscience and all its mysteries, I watch her diligently focus on her schoolwork so she can achieve her own professional dreams and goals. It fills me with inspiration.
I understand that, while she is her own person, my love and attention to her during her development helped her to become the ambitious, inquisitive person that she is today. It is by watching her strength and commitment to the development of self that I am convinced of the importance of my own.
I hope that I am modeling for her that it is never too late to have drive.