Wednesday, January 13, 2010

in the army...or anywhere else

please pardon me: i'm having a moment.

when did this happen, exactly? this. i'm pretty sure i had some ambitions, some dreams once upon a time. i'm pretty sure i bought into the be all that you can be song. (i mean, not the army part, though i did have an army recruiter hard on me for years in high school and even after i went to college.)

but it's weeks like these that make me wonder, is this all i can be? really? because i'm pretty sure my current occupations weren't on the list of possibilities way-back-then.

  • laundress, housekeeper? (nope, and clearly not my "calling," either, as i'm an undeniable failure at both...and really, mostly okay with that)
  • chauffeur, carpool mama? (not so much, as i'd much rather drive too fast belting out loud, "inappropriate" music in my little red toyota celica than sing along to "the vitamin alphabet" in my minivan)
  • miss manners, teacher-of-one-whom-i-must-teach-nearly-everything? (unh-uh. teaching was way never on my list.)
  • chef, planner-of-meals, coupon cutter, hostess-with-the-mostess? (nah, i'll never live up to my mom's standard on this one and find it discouraging to try.)
  • nurse, pediatrician, neurologist, gastroenterologist, respiratory therapist? (um, no. no way, no how.)
  • form-er of a little spirit, prayer instructor, Bible story reciter? (nope, don't think so.)
  • getting my courtroom fix watching "law and order"? getting out of bed in the morning excited most of all to login to facebook and see whose kids are sick or who had a baby, to check my email to see if that playdate is on (pleaseohplease)? leaving my (measly) mark on the world volunteering in children's ministry at my church? (nope. those weren't my aspirations.)

(if you're currently composing in your head some encouraging comment to leave at the end of this post--mom, this is addressed to you--please don't. just keep reading. this is decidedly not a plea for pity or compliments, i promise.)

but as i was taking care of poor luke who had the stomach flu this week, as i was having my own little pity party as i lay on his floor all night, bucket in hand, waiting to catch the next round and, ultimately, waiting to fall victim myself, i realized that God's vision for me to be all that i can be is bigger than mine. when luke whimpered, "mama, i wish you could do something to make it stop. if you were an antibody, you could. but you're just a human," i realized that i'm a decent science-teacher-of-one. when luke asked why i wasn't taking care of sam when he was similarly stricken, i realized that my mediocre nursing skills were making an impression on his sweet spirit. when my friend with whom we carpool lamented how difficult her week has been without my help in driving her son home from school, stuck home with my sick boy as i have been, i realized that my seemingly-endless minivan time does make an impact in a small but significant way. when luke's teacher told me today how happy everyone was to have him back as he was missed specifically by the students for his encouraging comments daily for the calendar person, i realized that i'm not a total failure in the manners category.

(as a housekeeper and laundress? well, sam cleaned the bathrooms, stricken as he already had been and as-yet unscathed as i was...and the washer broke from all the bedding wash. oh well. and the Bible-story-teaching thing? well, luke keeps me on my toes...and fills me in when i fall behind.)

anyhow, i realized (again) this week that i am certainly not all that i thought i might be. surely, if you had asked me years ago what i'd have accomplished by the time i was in my thirties, the list would have been much more impressive than is my current resume. would the extent of my writing be the few paragraphs i can cram into this space while luke whiles away his hour of rest time? certainly not. would my work as an editor fit neatly into eight hours a week and concern mostly things that no one who cares about punctuation or word choice or consistency or all rest of it will ever read? absolutely not. would my yard look like a plastic toy graveyard, my bathroom like it ought to be condemned by the health department, my laundry closet like a fire hazard that no repairman could ever think of entering? i hope not.

so it's a good thing resumes don't matter when you're in the business of forming people. and in that department, i'll just keep being all i can be and trusting that it's enough.


Patricia Berman said...

Am I allowed to smile? :)

mathmom said...

I keep thinking about this post. I would add two jobs: Holder (as in, Mom, hold this for me!) and rememberer (as in, Mom, where is my backpack! When are we going to Florida? What do we have scheduled this weekend?)

The trick in being all I can be is that I fear that all I can do will not be enough to teach my children and run the house. And then there is the deeper fear that I don't even always want to do my best, even when it is what I am called to do.

The only bright spot is that my teacher is patient and loving. And being a super organized homemaker with 3 perfectly behaved brilliant children and a spotless house is not his goal for me, anyway.

Thanks for the posts, they give me lots to think about.

Kate Gallaway said...

Thanks. I needed that one. As always, your writing is superb.