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Thursday, 20 January 2011

Small Things

(Mandal Norway)

I never really knew what to do with myself.

At around 8 years old, I wanted to be an artist and wear straw hats and live in the south of France. At 16, I wanted to be a writer and a poet and only achieve fame long after death. Lead a tragic sort of life but the problem with that was that I was irrepressibly happy most of the time so there went that grand ambition. At 21, I toyed very briefly with the idea of being a nurse but at the age of thirty I still cry when I have to get a needle and pass out cold when I get a vaccine and just last week I screamed when I was at the chiropractor's so physically, I'm a wimp and nursing wouldn't suit me. In between all these great career plans, I worked many jobs in several countries. I have a good work ethic but there was no job I did that I wanted to do forever.

Except travel which isn't really a job I suppose. At every age, I wanted to be a globe-trotter and at that at least, have been somewhat successful. (But not very because there is a lot of the world left to see.) When my husband first suggested buying a house, I was dead against it because "Then what would happen if we wanted to go travel the world for a year or two?". Thus spake the voice of maturity, responsibility, and logic. ;)

I won't say I always wanted to be a mother. Not that I didn't want to be a mother, it was simply something I never doubted so there was no need to want it too badly and I didn't really think about it aside from enjoying the reaction I got when I would tell people I wanted to have seven children. Of course, I desperately wanted to be a mother when I found out that my husband and I couldn't have biological children. That is when I really discovered what I wanted. Everything else paled in comparison after that. I had an excuse to feel tragic. (I'm not making light of it but it is amazing how mourning the loss of something you can't have gives you a sense of purpose.) So we pursued adoption with purpose. It became our goal, our hope and our dream. The transformation was incredible. I went into adoption with an angry heart, with words destructive and ugly, with huge, encompassing sorrow that we would never have a little boy with my husband's smile or a little girl with my eyes but also with a lot of desperate prayer. Very gradually my heart changed until I could say honestly that I wanted nothing different than what I had. That even if given a choice between pregnancy and adoption, I would still choose adoption and choose it joyfully. I still feel this way.

So now I am a mother. I spend these days with William. Sometimes they are lovely, full of laughter and fun, sometimes they are frustrating and feel far too long. Many days I wonder if I'm any good at being a mother at all.

Sometimes that question of what should I do now winds its way back into my mind, plays havoc with my peace for a short while. The quiet, persistent "Yes you are a mother, but what else Colleen? What else?" And I sit and think "So much else. Leave me alone."

I don't have a career. I don't even want one. I know how unfashionable that is today. I don't care. I am still trying to figure out what I want to do and probably always will be. (At least I always have wearing straw hats in the south of France to fall back on.:)

Sometimes the things that matter are very small things, "to do small things with great love". Last week I wrote about William having such trouble sleeping. I was so frustrated and impatient because I didn't want to spend hours helping him get to sleep. I wanted to do other things. Important things. Like watch "La Dolce Vita". So as I sat in his room, rocking him and feeling slightly resentful, like I was really getting a bad deal, this wasn't what I signed up for when I thought about being a mother, all those sorts of thoughts...I looked at his small, beautiful face, his eyes closed and listened to him breathing softly against my chest and felt the Lord press words on my restless, impatient heart.

"This is what I want you to do Colleen. I want you to rock him to sleep. Your job just now is to love him."


Life with Kaishon said...

Oh, I love this. You are doing God's calling. And even though it might not be quite as exotic as wearing straw hats in the South of is just as wonderful.

I know that God has given you a fantastic responsibility. And some days, the mundane, is overwhelming and annoying, but just remember... THIS is your higher calling.

You can do France in 40 years.

Karen Kyle Ericson said...

Beautiful! Very well written. Thanks for sharing it.

laughwithusblog said...

I have similar struggles with motherhood. Today is one of those days! :)

Susan Deborah said...

Dear Colleen:

What a lovely post this was. The lines, "I don't have a career. I don't even want one" talk volumes of you. In this given day and age, people like you are a sparse tribe. Bless you, Colleen. Glad that I got to know you and proud of knowing you as well.

Joy always,

Felisol said...

Dear Colleen,
Being an old woman in my sixties, I guess I've made the opposite journey from you, but have met somewhere in the middle.
I started working with people, teaching, nursing after finishing gymnasium at eighteen.
I went to more schools and never really thought of having a child of my own, because there were so many children and adults who needed me.
Then I became pregnant without really trying, and half a year AFTER our daughter was born, we married.

My life is for always divided in two; before and after the birth of Serina.

At first I frankly was scared to death by this huge responsibility. I remember I didn't even dare to cut her tiny fingernails of fear for hurting her. My dad helped me out.
And I was tired, of exhaustingly tired.
We both were. Gunnar tried to sing her asleep like I had instructed him to, and Serina came out, barefooted carrying her teddy bear; "Dad is asleep now."

The three of us have always shared love for music, reading, writing, painting, traveling. We have traveled as much and as often we could afford to.
No reason not no travel as long as you bring your child along, and not leave it behind, is my personal opinion.
Being this tiny core family with me partly ill, and therefore a home-mom, we were blessed be able do share so many joys all around the clock and year.

Like you, I stopped wanting more than just being.
For the last 23 years this have been a blessed way of living.
I've been able to use all my love and knowledge, and have even added some skills along the road.
I feel certain the Lord is going to bless you in a similar way.
I only wish I had had the courage to adopt more children after Serina was born. She begged us to do so, I felt too weak, and now it's too late.
That's something I cannot change, and there's no use in complaining.
I'm glad you have made other and better choices.
From felisol

JBR said...

Colleen this was simply beautiful. Thank you for sharing.

Colleen said...

Thank you for your encouraging words Becky! 40 years it is, want to come?:)

Thanks Karen, I appreciate that!

LaughWithUs, I hope the rest of your day is a very good one. It's good (well, not good but you know what I mean) to hear I'm not alone.:)

Susan Deborah, what a lovely comment. Thank you so much for your kind words. I feel so glad that I am getting to know you too. You have an interesting and unique way of looking at things and I enjoy that!

Elise, hearing a bit of your history like that is really interesting. Thank you so much for sharing it. I have always thought that you, Gunnar and Serina seem to have such a close and special bond within your family. I think what you describe sounds wonderful and that you have been so blessed by your family and they by you. I think the choices you have made have been excellent ones for yourself and family. God bless.

Thank you JBR!

Pia said...

Motherhood is a great job.

Crown of Beauty said...

The saying goes that when you baby a baby when he is still a baby, then you will not have to baby him all his life.

I was a hands on mother, meaning, I was truly present with my children in their growing up years. A wise word from Ernie's sister stayed in my heart from the first moment I conceived our first born - she told me, "They grow up too fast, right before your eyes. Enjoy them while you can."

And I did... and I still do, even though my babies are now 30, 28 and 26... and the first two sons now have sons of their own... I still enjoy them a lot.

You are on the right track. Caring for and loving your son is something that happens by stages and seasons. Enjoy him, but also, enjoy yourself. Seasons change.


Toyin O. said...

It is a beautiful transformation that has happened in your life. There is nothing wrong in not wanting to having a career. The greatest job you can have is rasing a child to become an awesome individual. You sound like a great mum.

Joyful said...

This post is beautifully written Colleen. The challenge for all of us sometimes is believing that what we are doing is precisely what God calls us to do and that we simply need to do it well. Like you I never questioned myself about having children. I always simply thought it would be. Now I don't have children of my own but I can be a mother of sorts to many I come across. God bless you for giving William a loving home and may you come to fully be and know that you are a good mother. Thanks for dropping by my blog.

Future Mama said...

This is fabulous!!! Just beautiful. Oh, and when you discover the job that allows us to both travel the world and bring the family and make a living...let me know and we'll sign up too ;-)

Much love,
Future Mama

Alicia said...

You have a thankful joy filled soul.
Oh the south of France is a dream of mine too, and having the shock of telling people when I was younger I wanted to live in a treehouse and have 8 children still makes me smile.
In all my comments the last one you wrote on my post, spoke clearly to my heart & just what you shared here about being a mother "it was simply something I never doubted so there was no reason to want it badly."
The song 'dream' makes my heart ache too.
Being a mother and taking those quiet moments to completely embrace them in my arms as they melt into sleep from heavenly tenderness. Is answered prayers that are unspoken.

Tabitha Bird said...

Perfect! and yes, that is your job and a finer one could not be found.

Straw hats the the south of France has appeal though. I may even need to pursue this one day soon!

sacramento said...

Thank you so much for your comment. I am so gald that you mention my words at the begining. They are not just pretty words, but a long strugle.
Looking forward to see you more often.
Do not hurry...just live everyday, and enjoy it.

Anonymous said...

Great post.

I truly think motherhood and fatherhood is the supreme vocation of all people as an essential element of our pursuit of holiness and the beatific vision in eternity. Absolutely not in the sense that celibacy is in any way inferior to marriage, but in the sense that those who are not also called to concretely raise children are very much called to spiritual motherhood and fatherhood.

Everything is inferior to the care of souls. Every career should be completely subordinate to the care of and the eternal destiny of souls in whatever state of life to which God calls us.

It is completely countercultural, but it is in God we find our true selves. It is in God we find who we truly are meant to be, and I believe that in some sense all women are meant to be mothers and all men fathers second only to being true children of God.

Purple Cow said...

Motherhood is a brilliant thing to want...but, I wouldn't exactly call it a career...

JOBWISE... I have never doubted what I would want... To get paid to do NOTHING!!!

Who knows? I might win lotto som day. Some day, when I decide to actually play.

Carmody Wilson said...

If you fall back on your straw hat in France plan, I will join you for a day or two. :)

Mariannes blogg said...

Jeg mener det å være mor er den absolutt viktigste jobben man kan ha, og jeg skulle så gjerne fått lov til å være sammen med marius absolutt hele tiden!
Jeg er en av de altfor mange som jobber mens barna er små...
Nå må jeg si at det er mannen som skal være hjemme, og det å være pappa er også den viktigste jobben man kan ha! <3
Så jeg er skrekkelig misunnelig på alle de mødrene der ute som får ha mer enn 20 uker permisjonstid, og som i tillegg får være hjemme etter det;)

Ellers så ville jeg egentlig bare si at du rører meg sånn med det du skriver. Har alltid et par tårer trillende ned kinnene mine når jeg har besøkt deg <3
(kan også være av latter;))
Ha en fantastisk og velsignet helg!!

Colleen said...

Pia, thank you!

Lidj, thank you for your wise and caring advice. I always value hearing from you. You sound as though you were and are a wonderful mother to your children.

Toyin thank you for your kind words.

Joyful I admire your attitude so much. It is so truly open and giving. What a generous heart you have!

Future Mama, you bet I'll let you know when I find such a job.;)

Thank you all for your comments and uplifting words...I will answer them all in a bit! They are appreciated.:)

Colleen said...

Alicia, that's wonderful about your dream of living in a treehouse with your eight children! Only four more to go I guess!:) I enjoyed that beautiful was achingly lovely.

Thank you Tabitha. It's amazing how many people seem to love the idea of wearing straw hats in the south of France...I say we do it!:)

Sacremento, thank you for your words. I had no idea that was your quote! Beautiful! And I can fully understand how it represents a struggle. I will certainly try to just live and enjoy each day.

Kristin, incredible. Those are extremely wise words and you have explained it so very well.

Purple Cow, I wouldn't call motherhood a career either. :) I am career-less I'm afraid although I like your idea of a job. Now for me, if I could get paid to do something creative, that's my dream job.:)

Carmody, please do join me, it would be wonderful to see you again. It has been so long! But maybe we'll see each other in London first?:)

Tusen takk Marianne, jeg er enig med deg. Håper at dere få en fin, fin helg og. Stor klem! <3

KATE said...

Just read two quotes I love:

You ARE doing the most awesome work in the world, Colleen! Nothing else could ever compare!
No big paycheck, no work place, nothing can compare with that little guy in your arms!
Cooking and cleaning can wait till tomorrow
For babies grow up, I have learned to my sorrow.
So settle down dust, cobwebs go to sleep,

sacramento said...

Thank you so much Collen for your kind words. They mean the world to me.
Enjoy your weekend, too.

Jamie said...

Colleen... This is beautiful in the struggle to get where you are, the internal battle to embrace where you are and the content that the Lord presses on your heart... I wish we lived closer to one another, I have a feeling we would have wonderfully insightful play dates!

Leia said...

It's awesome that you figured out what you were meant to be! I still don't know what I want to do 'when I grow up!'


Mats said...

Beautiful words phrasing my own thoughts of my fatherhood for Tuva.


OtienoHongo said...

This must have really come from your heart! I remember when my daughters were little (and even today!), sometimes they can get so infuriating you feel like throwing them away, but that is part of the joy of being a parent. My parents have told me that I was not an easy kid to deal with when I was a toddler so I always joke that what goes around comes around.

Happily Ever After Again said...

this was lovely. :) i think that part of being the person that God wants us to be, is being humble enough to ask "am i doing this right?" "what could i do differently?"
there are so many days when i wonder if i am doing everything that i need to be. congrats on the adoption of your boy. :)

Steve E said...

And God spoke: ""This is what I want you to do Colleen. I want you to rock him to sleep. Your job just now is to love him."

Ohhhhh! How appropriate to every right activity, no matter how seemingly insignificant!

And I LOVE what Felisol wrote: "...and Serina came out, barefooted carrying her teddy bear; "Dad is asleep now."

That just 'grabbed' me.

Thank you, Colleen, for your visit.

Deborah said...

I love your comment "it is amazing how mourning the loss of something you can't have gives you a sense of purpose". I know exactly what you mean, that sense of loss is fueling my current journey...

Murugi Njehia said...

This is beautiful and i believe that motherhood is a career it itself..!

Mari said...

You are right where you need to be, doing what you need and want to be doing! This is just beautiful. Thanks for the perfect start to my day.

Alynne Leigh said...

You. Inspire. Me.

Michael Khatcherian said...

Hi Colleen. Sorry fr being off life lately. Beautifully written and shows us no matter how perfectly we try to paint the portrait of our lives, it is He who do it for us with absolute perfection

Janet said...

Haha I'll join you in the South of France with straw hats any day! :D I sure miss it! I wish you could have seen my grandparent's old house... Colleen you would have LOVED it! :o) I promise you it was better than any movie you've ever seen!

I'm not a mother but I can sure imagine asking myself the question "what on earth was I thinking!?" only to be reminded that what we do here on earth for our children is what God does with us every day... except we're "adults" and are are supposed to "know" better ;op

Enjoy William while you can, I've heard they grow up too fast and soon you'll be missing those nights he fell asleep in your arms ;o)

Love you!

Karen said...

Motherhood is a high and holy calling. The world will never understand this or those, like you and me, who chose not to have a "career." I struggled off and on like you, 30 years ago. But hubby and I are so glad I got to be a SAHM and we think parenting is the best "job" we ever had. Praying that you will believe that, too, one lullaby at a time. blessings, k