I remember standing in the pet store once watching the mice run on their wheel. I laughed at how they would run with all their might faster and faster. Sometimes there were two or three of them on the same wheel and if one didn't keep the pace, she was thrown off the wheel. She would then run around the cage a few times as if to build up her stamina and jump right back on the wheel with the marathoners. I found it more than slightly entertaining. One of the highlights was when the group on the wheel grew to 5 or 6 or sometimes more and the speed was great enough that sometimes one or two would just hold on and go for a ride!
I have often thought of these mice. Cute and busy, yet creepy and without purpose. I frequently feel like one of these mice, and depending on the day, I could be referred to as "cute and busy" or the dreaded "creepy and without purpose". I guess the quest is to try to avoid the latter as much as possible. And how do we do that in today's world? I'm still learning. Failing on some days and yet on others taking it all in stride and running flawlessly on my little wire wheel.
It's hard to believe that it's been eighteen and a half years since I first felt the twinge of total and complete dedication to another human being in the way a new mother does while holding her little bundle of responsibility. I remember vividly the long nights, the dirty diapers, the sweet moments of singing a lullaby and having her look me in the eye as if she wanted to sing along. There are times when I wish I could spin my wheel backwards and start over, change this and change that. Would I spare them the pain and disappointments they faced, or is it exactly those things that have helped shape them into the amazing daughters they are now? As the years passed and my responsibility grew with each child my life had one purpose, and I loved it, that was to be the best mom I could be. That included (but was not limited to) all those long nights and dirty diapers, but also stories and puppets, cardboard box boats and tea parties. I loved throwing an amazing birthday party complete with an equally amazing birthday cake. My children were my life, to the expense sometimes of a true connection with myself.
In the spring of 2009 I found myself running the wheel alone. I was now a single mom of these 5 girls. One of the scariest and most challenging things I have ever faced. After being dedicated to almost nothing but my girls and my marriage for so many years, it was now time to take on the role of provider also. I knew the direction of my career choice would be in decorating and Faux finishing. That was the easy part, choosing what to do. The challenge for me has proven, more than anything, to figure out how to find a balance between being the kind of mom I want to be, which includes being the homemaker I love being, and being the kind of business woman that I desire so much to be. It's a constant struggle working for myself to decide between the two. Lucky for me I love my job almost as much as I love being a homemaker. I have always looked at working moms and wondered how they did it. Now I have even more respect for their busy schedules. Some days are filled with guilt for not spending more one on one time. Some days are filled with frustration at myself for not figuring it out and being able to just take care of it all. And yet some days are truly fulfilling and I am thankful for the opportunity I have to be a mother and also have a career that doubles as my passion. The truth is, I am happiest when my house is at least semi put together, my kids are being self sufficient and I am creating something beautiful with my hands. Problem is, those days seem to not come as often as I would like. I often feel that my list is never ending and I seem to be just running and running and not getting anywhere. Just me and my wheel.
So the answer? I don't know. Maybe one of you have some profound advice that will help me change my paradigm. For now I am ever so thankful for the challenge because I would never trade the responsibility of caring the way I do for my daughters, and now my two step-sons. I am thankful that I love them all enough that it is a struggle for me to put other things ahead of them. The reality of it is that the actual act of finding my own passion and even putting it before them sometimes has made me a better person, which makes me a better mom and example. I have to remind myself that as I am successful, and as I find fulfillment in things other than my children I am teaching that self fulfillment isn't about being selfish. Self fulfillment is about finding yourself and becoming the best you can be. As I do that I will have more to give, more to offer to those that I love. I am convinced that it may always be a struggle for me to find the balance, but I think I'm okay with that. I will not always have 6 teenagers and a ten year old princess to help remind me of what is really important. And as they leave, one by one, I will resist the temptation to run with all my might in the opposite direction on my little wheel..while watching to see if time can rewind, or even pause for a second. For today I will be thankful for the challenges, thankful for the moments of struggle because it is with those struggles and challenges that we put things in their proper place.
And so now I will close my laptop, and after time on my knees asking for strength to run, I will gladly climb back on my little wire mesh wheel. I will somehow find joy today in the constant squeak of my wheel and smile when it gets going to fast and throws me off. Deep breath.......