Sunday, I taught the 16-18 year old girls on “Choosing a Vocation.” In an effort to veer from the usual fare of “you all should be mothers but you need a back up plan just in case,” I waxed eloquent on how they could be anything they wanted, do anything they wanted; I urged them to shut out the voices of discouragement. I shared this article about Kathryn Stockett’s sixty rejections before she published The Help. It’s a fantastic piece; I especially love the final paragraph:
The point is, I can’t tell you how to succeed. But I can tell you how not to: Give in to the shame of being rejected and put your manuscript—or painting, song, voice, dance moves, [insert passion here]—in the coffin that is your bedside drawer and close it for good. I guarantee you that it won’t take you anywhere. Or you could do what this writer did: Give in to your obsession instead.
I believe with all my heart that these incredible girls can do whatever they want, that they should pursue their dreams. We had a great discussion where they shared goals and we discussed glorifying God in all we do.
And just as the last girl walked out the door, I realized what I’d missed, what I didn’t say. Blame it on a shortened lesson time, Fast Sunday or just my general state of distraction, but I wish I’d said,
mothering my children is the sweetest, finest, most fulfilling career I could have chosen. Not a moment of education: scholarly, spiritual or practical has been wasted as I teach and work and pray with my family.
And not a moment of my time has been wasted in raising this family. My children and my husband are worth every sacrifice, every girls’ night out I skipped, every job I turned down to spend more time with them.
Because I married young and had children right away, I thought, for a long time, that I’d missed my chance- grad school, a magazine internship, possibly a professorship– and it’s easy for me to see now that those options come round again. In fact, I could have never dreamt of all the opportunities my life would bring. I’m still at the stage where I say ‘no’ to most things that come my way– in fact this school year looks like it will be our most demanding season yet– but the future is full of possibilities. In all those long years that I did nothing but nurse babies and mop the floor my sister told me often, “It’s OK that you don’t have time to write; when you do have the time you’ll have stored up lots to say.”
My children are worth my time. Their stories, their games, their pigtails and peanut butter sandwiches are worth my time. I’ve learned that publishing an article or being paid to take photos isn’t the thrill I’d once imagined. One Gabriel hug is worth more than a front page article.
I’m still an advocate of dreaming big. Goodness, I’m the one trying to sell a screenplay, looking up the name of Taylor Swift’s agent so I can send him a script. People are certainly laughing at me.
But the soul and center of my life are Erik, Ben, Stefan, Hans, Xander, Gabriel, Mary– they are the work, the passion that I am excited to wake up to every morning. My family is my masterpiece.