Monday, August 8, 2011

What's So New About The New Plan?

On the surface, the “new plan” probably doesn’t look new at all.  Actually, to the casual observer, it looks pretty much identical to what I’ve been doing for about six years now: being a stay-at-home mom.  But on the inside, it feels very different because it’s not just about my external choices; it’s about a shift in the internal processes and decisions that are leading to those choices.

Committing myself to the idea of being a full-time mom for the foreseeable future is scary in a lot of ways.  You see, for several years now, I have put a lot of time and emotional energy into planning my next steps.  I’ve been focused on what I perceive as being the next “big thing” in my life.  And when my plans get interrupted, I may decide to shelve them for a year or so, but I always know I’m coming back to them soon enough.

But this is different.  Now I am feeling strongly led to let these plans go for the foreseeable future and to invest my time and emotional energy into what I feel I’m being called to do right now.
On one hand, this does take away some of the pressure I’ve put on myself– no more worrying about starting school before my GRE scores expire, getting applications in, or figuring out how to juggle young children and a master’s degree.

On the other hand, to be perfectly honest, I feel disappointed and lost.  I love school; in fact, school is one of the few things in life that I feel comes naturally to me.  I’ve really looked forward to sitting in classrooms, listening to lectures, taking notes, reading, and learning new things.  It sounds a little like heaven to me.  And that’s one of the biggest reasons I’ve told myself that surely going back to school must be part of God’s plan for me; after all, doesn’t God use the things we are good at and love doing?  Plus, it was part of his plan for me when I was a teen parent, so why wouldn’t it be now?

And this shift in my perspective leaves a gaping hole where obsessively planning my future once was.  I feel directionless.  Parenthood has a much less clearly defined path than graduate school!

Besides that, I worry about becoming irrelevant.  The truth is, if I don’t make it back to school in the next few years (while my husband is finishing his pre-med degree), it is likely that I won’t be going back until he’s finished with medical school.  That could change, but right now, I feel very strongly that while he is in medical school, I need to be focused on our family.  But when I did the math, I realized that if this is indeed the case, my bachelor’s degree could be fifteen to twenty years old by the time I go back to school, and I’ll have no work experience.  That is kind of terrifying.  Meanwhile, so many people around me are getting their master’s degrees, working on their doctorates, or building their careers.  I feel as though my relevancy is slipping away, and I worry that my view of myself as an intelligent and educated person may slip away with it.  While the people around me move ahead with their educations and careers, I am pregnant, nursing babies, changing diapers, and cleaning up messes.

And this all makes me realize just how little I have valued my role as a mother.  I have the head knowledge that it’s valuable, but my heart is struggling to catch up.  Or maybe it’s the other way around.  Either way, somewhere along the way, I’ve become blinded to the value of what I do.  And that is what I will talk about in my next post– the value of motherhood that I have so often overlooked.

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