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.
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?
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. . .
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!
My son has this book that he loves called The Little Red Lighthouse and the Great Gray Bridge. In the book, the little red lighthouse is proud of its job sending out beacons of light to protect the boats in the river from the rocky shores. One day, a crew of men appears:
Every day [the little red lighthouse] watched the strange new gray thing beside it grow and grow. Huge towers seemed to touch the sky. Strong loops of steel swept across the river.
How big it was!
A great gray bridge, spanning the Hudson River from shore to shore. It made the little red lighthouse feel very, very small.
“Mommy, is the little red lighthouse sad?” my son asked one day after I read this passage to him.
“Yes, sweetie, it is,” I replied.
“But why?” he asked. (He is a three-year-old, after all.)
“Well, the lighthouse is afraid that he won’t have any work to do, now that the great gray bridge has been built. He’s afraid that there’s no job for him. And that makes him sad. It feels good to have a job to do, doesn’t it?” Continue reading
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.
But 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
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.” 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 treasure? Continue reading
My sweet baby girl —
It’s been a hard year, hasn’t it?
You experienced so much change and you had to learn so much. In fact, you learned more in this first year of your life than perhaps you will in any other single year moving forward (!). And the change you experienced – it was unimaginable, too. You went from having every single need met so perfectly that you had never even experienced need – to a world in which you experienced every basic need and more – hunger, exhaustion, frustration, anger, fear, sadness – sometimes all in one day or even one hour. I’m so sorry, sweet baby girl of mine, that it’s been so hard.
And yet – you amaze me. Despite all these hard things, you grew and thrived. You learned to roll over, sit, crawl, stand, start to walk. You learned to drink and eat (and boy do you love food!), to smile and laugh and start to talk. I am so proud of you, already, for your persistence, for your feisty spirit, for all the many things you have learned and accomplished in this short year. Today, you are ONE.
My sweet baby girl, it’s been a hard year for your Mama, too. Continue reading
Filed under blogging, children, contentment, depression, family, god & faith, identity, motherhood, parenting, prayer, sensory overload
Happy 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
Filed under blogging, career, children, community, depression, family, god & faith, identity, motherhood, prayer, Uncategorized, writing
“I’m done,” I said without thinking for even one second about how to respond to his innocent “how’s it going?”
He looked at me blankly. I guess not the answer he was expecting.
“Well, I just mean, I’m done with today. You know, ready for it to be over.”
Another blank stare. I realized that he had absolutely no idea what I was talking about.
And for a minute, I struggled to remember any other time, any time when feeling completely exhausted, worn out, used, tried beyond my patience, and completely out of energy at the end of the day – done – wasn’t the norm. Wasn’t the reality. (Not to mention that I was referring to 7:30 PM as the end of the day.) Continue reading
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.
She’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
Filed under blogging, career, children, contentment, depression, family, identity, motherhood, parenting, prayer, running, writing
Lately I’ve noticed a striking similarity between learning to blog and learning to parent. Most notably, both require exceptional amounts of self-grace because both seem to result in exceptional amounts of expectation adjustments.
(And I’m pretty sure that I just made up the term “self-grace,” so if you’ve never heard it before, don’t feel like you are out of the loop. The idea is that both require me to have a lot of grace for myself. Radical.)
As some of you may remember, I had high hopes when I started this blog. I thought long and hard about why I wanted to write and figured that by the fall I’d be writing at least twice a week, if not more often. I’d have guest bloggers and would be writing at other blogs and on my way to a book deal. Continue reading