Thursday, July 26, 2012

Building a cathedral

I'm not sure where I heard this story, probably at a teacher inservice at some point, but it has stuck with me especially as I have been on my quest for a purpose.  In case you haven't heard it before, here's my best rendition.
A traveler came upon three men working on a hill, each of them smashing rocks with a hammer.  He approached the first man and said, "what are you doing?" 
"What does it look like?" said the first man, "I'm smashing rocks."
The traveler then approached the second worker and asked the same question.
"I'm working to earn a living for my family, so we can afford to have a better life."
The third man, when asked the same question, lit up with a smile.  "Can't you see?  I'm building a cathedral."
It's a little preachy, I know. I'm inclined to learn best through parables and narratives, so I'm not surprised it stuck with me.  But today it seems to be sticking in my brain a little extra.

So many days of this mom gig, I feel like I'm just smashing rocks.  It's discouraging.  It's disheartening.  I want to do something big, something that matters.  And the truth is, I feel this way even though I know that by raising a child I am doing some of the most worthwhile work in the world, that I am doing something at least as meaningful as building a cathedral.

I'm not going to "should" myself and say that I need to think like that third man all the time, that I need to see the big picture and take pride in my achievements.  Because sometimes I can't.  Sometimes that's just not where I am, and smashing the rocks is the best I can do to get through the day.  And that's okay.

But I also know that everyone needs to feel, at least once in a while, like they're building something that matters.

Some dear friends of mine are stepping out of their comfort zones today, and they're doing it because their families need them to.  They're doing it without any expectation of being able to find purpose or meaning in it.  They're doing it simply because they must, however much they really don't wanna, they're going out to smash rocks and they're doing it to make sure their families have better lives.

And I think that's amazing.  I think that's more than enough.

But I hope that somewhere along the line, they can find cathedrals.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Getting it right

It's been 22 months since Baby Girl was born.  22 hard and exhausting and beautiful and life changing months.

Sometimes I wonder if I did it right.

I'm not talking about what I did for her.  I'm not talking about her sleep or her eating or her mental development and play.  I'm not talking about the magnitude of my love.  Because somehow, whatever mistakes and missteps I may have made, she's doing great.  She's beautiful and smart and funny and PERFECT and she loves me like nothing else.  I know that I am lucky, but I also know that I am doing something right.

But I'm talking about me.

I had a really hard time.  Especially in the beginning, but even still now, I've struggled.  I cried.  I worried.  I got lost.  I forgot how to be me, and had to start from scratch instead of remembering.

I still sometimes get twitchy when someone else is playing with or holding my toddler.  I still sometimes want to scream "Give her to me, she's MINE."

And I know I've come a long way.  I know I'm better.  I know that I've created something for myself in the world, that I've spread the kindness that was so important to me, that I have purpose in a way I never expected.  I started to write and created something here that truly is beautiful and made me proud. I made myself go out into the world, social anxiety be damned, and I'm a better person for it.  I made a lot of choices that really healed me, and they were hard.

But sometimes I still wonder if I did it right.

Maybe it didn't have to be so hard.

I never talked to my doctor.  I never took medicine or went to therapy.  I did make heavy use of online support groups, change my social life, change the way I took care of my body and mind.  And all that is important work, but maybe I didn't have to work so hard.  At least, maybe I didn't have to do it on my own.

I cringe a little when people call me a PPD mom or survivor, not because I'm ashamed of the title but because I don't feel like I earned it.  I don't have a diagnosis.  And if I got so much better on my own, maybe it never really was truly depression.  Maybe becoming a mom is just hard, and I needed to grieve and adjust and learn how to do this totally new thing.

But maybe not.

I don't want to beat myself up.  I don't want to think that any of the trouble I had was because I did anything wrong.  I just want to make sure I do everything right next time.

Because next time is coming in December.

Sorry.  I may have buried the lead on that one a little.