Category Archives: career

the hard work of mothering

I grew up in a home that valued work. My sister and I learned not to waste time, and that working hard was one of the most important things we could do. Following the examples of my hard-working parents, I believed I could achieve anything—as long as I worked hard enough.

When my son was born, I was not ready to return to my previous job after just three months off. So I took a new job: motherhood.

I had worked hard building my career as a professional musician and arts administrator. Yet I believed spending time with my son during his most formative years was important—even if it meant leaving a job I loved and had worked hard to achieve. I now wanted to work hard to train up my child in the way he should go.

However, I often found myself longing for a different life. I grew jealous of friends and colleagues as they achieved professional success, some even having children of their own along the way. The past three-and-a-half years have been a struggle to find my place—as a mom, as a freelance writer and musician, as a Christian, as a driven and hard-working woman.

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I’m delighted to be writing again over at the fabulous website Off the Page this month. Won’t you join me there to read the rest?

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Filed under blogging, career, children, contentment, faith, family, god & faith, motherhood

When Work Feels Fruitless

It’s easy to think of “work” in the ways our society does – as something only related to money, status, stability. But God-given work is bigger.

Sorry for the radio silence around here. Head over to Redeemer Presbyterian’s Center for Faith and Work blog for a short post I wrote recently on the frustrations of God-given work. . .

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My primary work is as a mother. I have several advanced degrees and I spend hours sitting on the floor, wiping runny noses, or standing in the kitchen, washing dishes. Many days, it seems like everything that I do backfires. It is easy to feel like what I’m doing is a waste of my time and education. I know that raising kids is about delayed gratification – after all, “your works will praise you at the gates” – but I could use a little more affirmation along the way. The work of being a full-time mom is hard, grueling work.

It’s not unusual for work to feel this way.

Read the rest here!

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Filed under career, children, contentment, God, god & faith, idolatry, motherhood, parenting, work

splinters

My 20-month old daughter got her first splinter last week. It was one of those early spring days in New York, when everyone is both afraid to be overly hopeful and also completely ecstatic. We spent the afternoon at the playground, and I didn’t even notice the splinter until the following day. The shard of wood was long and deeply embedded. The skin around it was red and probably infected. Removing the splinter was awful, and I think everyone in the family cried.

Splinters don’t hurt much going in – they seem to slip under the skin so effortlessly. But removing the wood requires digging deeper into the surrounding area. Sometimes you have to cut open more skin in order to fold it back and grasp the splinter firmly enough to pull it out. In my childhood memories, the removal of a splinter was far more painful than acquiring it in the first place. Sometimes I even purposefully hid them from my parents to avoid it – but in the end, removal was always necessary.

My daughter suffered as my husband dug gently into her hand to remove the wood. This pain was necessary for healing. Without it, the infection would have worsened.

I have had many splinters in my life. Some have been identified quickly and removed without many tears. Others have embedded themselves deeply, and the discovery and then removal process has been painful, filled with struggle and suffering. My deepest, most infected splinters are not splinters of wood beneath my skin, Continue reading

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Filed under body image, career, contentment, God, god & faith, identity, idolatry, music, viola, work

to my struggling friend

I have a few things to say to you, but it won’t be enough.

You will get through this. You will. But it’s going to take work. And then it might happen again. And it might be the same – or it might be completely different.

No one has experienced exactly what you are experiencing or have experienced. But there are plenty of people who have walked similar roads, traveled to the hard places and come back again. You are not alone.

The world is broken. It’s broken! It’s broken because of sin, because in the perfect Garden, when a man and a woman had a perfect relationship with each other, a perfect relationship with God, and perfect relationships with their work and their bodies and all the animals and everything else, sin entered in. And things began to break down. Even if you’re not sure you believe this – look around you.

The world is broken. Undeniably broken.  Continue reading

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Filed under body image, career, children, contentment, depression, family, friends, God, god & faith, identity, trust

the best and worst weekend

Last weekend I felt great, really great. Self-assured. Focused and funny – able to concentrate and crack jokes with equal ease. Confident. I had my shit together. And it felt good.

I was in Memphis, playing concerts with an orchestra that I’ve been playing with since 2007. The people, place, and routine of rehearsals and performances are like home to me.

irisBut this time was different from my last several trips South. This time was the first time in three years that I was there alone, without any kids.

I really enjoyed the conversations I had. I felt present, able to focus on what people said. Conversations that were casual-but-not-superficial flowed naturally. I didn’t think I knew how to do that anymore.

I enjoyed the playing. I had prepared well, but, moreover, I was able to play well in the moment. Rehearsals and performances were not a complicated array of insecurity and self-assurance and nostalgia – a frequent feeling in recent years – but instead a wonderful combination of ease and enjoyment.  Continue reading

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Filed under career, children, family, love, motherhood, music, parenting, travel, Uncategorized, viola

of dreams and disappointments

I recently read a book that I mostly love, a LOT, but also hate just a little bit. Well, it’s not so much that I hate it – it’s that I’m angry at it.

I love the book because it is so much like life – filled with the beauty and loss and childishness and inspiration and curiosity and awe that make up what we know of this world. I also hate the book because it is so much like life, with its unpredictability and lack of happily-ever-after promises, with its multi-dimensional characters who cannot be completely understood and the resulting loneliness and frustration.

I thought I knew how the book would end. It didn’t end that way, and I was sad and disappointed and, at first, so angry because I just didn’t want to accept the discrepancy between what I had really wanted to happen and what really did. Between my dreams for the book and its reality.

That’s happened to all of us, right? In our real, nonfiction lives? We’ve been disappointed by – and perhaps angry at – the discrepancy between our dreams and our reality?  Continue reading

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Filed under books, career, friends, God, god & faith, holy, Uncategorized

new year, new purpose

jars of clay

So it’s a new year! And, with the New Year, a new post, and also a new purpose for this space. I recently read that famous passage Christians like to quote about how “we have this treasure in jars of clay.”[1] We carry around a treasure – and this treasure is found in a jar made of clay. It’s not necessarily a beautiful, glazed, perfected jar, but a clay jar. It’s probably a simple jar. An unimpressive jar. Possibly even a broken jar. But it’s not the jar that is important – isn’t that the idea? It’s the treasure inside.

This got me thinking: what is my treasureContinue reading

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what’s in a year?

first-birthday-cakeHappy First Birthday to grace in the darkness! A year ago today, you made your way into cyberspace after many months of gestation (months which I spent researching and planning and writing and designing) and, like any birth, that day was filled with many hopes and dreams, much excitement, and certainly some nerves. It’s hard to believe it’s been this long already — and that some of you are still reading my words after 365 days.

Mostly, it’s hard to believe because it’s so easy to wish that I’d done more. Written more posts, taken more beautiful photos, facilitated more guest authors. Also, I’d hoped for more success. I wish I had acquired more followers, seen more readership growth, been offered more book deals (ha!). I’d hoped for more.

However, despite not being more, it’s been a good, full year. A hard year, certainly, but what year isn’t? As I was preparing to write this post, and thinking about the past year, I revisited many posts from the last twelve months (of course). I revisited the dark places and the questions, the favorite quotes, the letters to my son and daughter, the post about learning to love our family of four and the posts exploring Ed Welch’s book about faith and depression that I found so useful. I remembered my struggles with finding community in New York and applauded my efforts at starting to run again. And you know what? It’s not more, and it’s not the best, but it is good.  Continue reading

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Filed under blogging, career, children, community, depression, family, god & faith, identity, motherhood, prayer, Uncategorized, writing

a mother’s choices

Motherhood is filled with hard choices. Lately, I’m constantly deciding which of my children comes first.

Maaaaamaaaaaa! Jacob hollers, banging his hands on the sides of his crib insistently with all the power and energy of a two-year-old.

Wake-up time!!!!!!! he calls, as though there was any chance I could have slept through his yelling. Nouk! Bum! Peatut burr!!!!” His way of demanding his daily breakfast: milk, banana, and peanut butter.

I glance at the clock, bleary-eyed. 6:34. At least it’s later than yesterday. I’m nursing his baby sister in my bedroom, hoping that she’ll get a halfway decent feed. The day before I’d gotten them out of bed together and she was distracted by his antics as he danced around with his milk while I tried to nurse her. I’d chosen to feed them together.

This morning, I’m choosing her. He has to wait.  Continue reading

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Filed under career, children, family, god & faith, motherhood, necessary things, parenting

do what it takes

DSC_0083

It has been a long time since I’ve sat here, staring at a blank screen. I’ve started a dozen posts in my head since I last wrote and mentally bookmarked just as many topics to address. I even have a small arsenal of posts that I wrote before my daughter was born  so that I could continue to publish regularly throughout “the hard weeks right after,” but somehow using those now seems false, not true to where (or even who?) I am now.

And the hard weeks…hahaha! If only just a few weeks had been hard.

Far from it.

DSC_0039She’s five months old now, with a smile that charms even the hardest of hearts, but every day remains a challenge. And the reality of transferring any of those thoughts to paper or completing any of those posts feels staggeringly difficult.  Continue reading

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