HOW MY DAUGHTER VIEWS MY MOTHERHOOD
I wanted to so badly say something profound to all the teachers, my friends, my counselors and my family. I wanted to be passionate about something important, something that the world deemed valuable. A doctor, a nurse, an architect, a teacher, ANYTHING. But every time I was prompted with “What do you want to be when you grow up?” Nothing came to mind. I remember thinking and overthinking as a little girl, through high school and even through college, and eventually landing on the road to Physical Therapy which ended up being lackluster. My grades were nothing to write home about and eventually what I made up as a dream to become a Physical Therapist turned into what it started out to be: something contrived. This is not to say that any profession is less than another, but rather that my own quest to figure out what was right for me was treacherous. Because in my heart, it was pretty basic, but the world was telling me otherwise. I wanted to stay home with my (future) kids. I wanted to be a stay at home mom. But, did I say that out loud until I actually was one? NO! To me, at the time, that would have been crazy. The world we currently live in, the culture that has been influencing us all would laugh a girl out of town if she was loud and proud about that passion. Ok, maybe not. Maybe that’s a bit dramatic, but you get the gist. And you certainly get what my perception used to be on the matter.
Fast-forward to a couple of years ago. Our 4-year-old daughter bounced into her car seat after school, started buckling her seatbelt, and suddenly remembered something she wanted to so badly to tell me. She stopped buckling, and said, “Momma, guess what I want to be when I grow up?” Now, I knew they had been discussing community leaders in their class, so I had a couple of REALLY good guesses that would fit her genius. So, I guessed, “a teacher, like Mrs. Hamada?” She said, “nooooooo.” I guessed again, “a doctor?” She said, “noooooo.” I guessed one last time with the honest ignorance to what was about to come out of her mouth and I said, “an artist?” And that is when she said it, “no, mom, I am going to be a mommy and a massage therapist.”
I literally, kid you not, grabbed the rearview mirror and was the exact person I feared when I was a little girl. I sat up straight, looked intently into her eyes, and said, “you can be anything you want to be.” How passive aggressive, right? What I said was true, obviously, but I wasn’t exactly addressing her excitement. I felt so flustered by her response but decided to let the conversation rest while we drove home to figure out a politically correct (insert gagging noise) way to encourage her to be more than a stay at home mom. Oh, the irony. As a child, I wanted to be a mom. And as I became one and chose to stay at home with my kids, I battled the worldview of being “just” a stay at home mom. It was a battle that I fought and defended to be seen as worthy as it was. But, here I was with my own daughter trying to figure out a way to devalue who I was and who she said she wanted to be, too. ICK.
When my husband, Steve, came home, I barely let him get in the house before I sarcastically gave him the news: “Mehana said she wants to be a mommy and a massage therapist when she grows up.” And then I added all the things I had thought of to get her to shoot for more. “Maybe I can go back to school. Maybe I need to ramp up my massage therapy business, so she can watch me as a business owner. Maybe I can get a normal 8-5 job outside the home, so she can see other options.” The list kept going and going and going. I was distraught with inadequacy. I was burdened by the fact that I somehow enslaved our daughter to want to do only what I do. That I somehow blinded her from the rest of the world’s passions and jobs. I know she was 4, but bear with me (the point is coming). I was projecting my own insecurities that I felt towards being a stay at home mom and how the world viewed that as inadequate or less than, onto my daughter. I was being the very way I had been battling all along.
We visited the conversation and revisited it over the course of the next few weeks, with me in that same mindset: to minimize what I do, to devalue myself and all the moms that decided at some point that this was what they wanted or felt called to do. Then I had a perspective-shifting conversation with my mom occur a few weeks later. She said, “What an honor; that she would choose to see your worth and want to be just like you.”
JAW DROP. My daughter wanted to be like me. Not just a stay at home mom for stay at home mom sake, but that she saw something that she wants in what I do.
She was offering up a blessing and I let the enemy turn it into a curse, for weeks. For weeks I had mulled over how to change my whole life, how to be someone I wasn’t, how to be more adequate in society's eyes, how to fit in with the strong female movement. For weeks, I felt the burden of “what do I actually do at home with my kids. What really is my work? How am I really contributing to the world?” And, just like that, the thing that was meant for good was stolen. My heart was weakened instead of spurred, and my foot slipped onto the path of not enough and poor me.
My daughter. She viewed my work as worthy work. She felt the impact that I have dreamed of making in her life. She saw me. She saw me even when I didn’t see myself. While I was wondering if my life had purpose, if my chosen motherhood was valued, she spoke up. The light in her eyes beamed with pride that day and although I muddied the blessing for too long, I now choose to receive it.
Is there a blessing you are missing out on because you’re believing the lies the enemy is whispering in your ear? I might bet there is…because the battle is ongoing, and we must open our eyes and ears to the truth that the Father is trying to speak to our hearts: you are a gift, a precious, integral, beautiful branch on the vine.