In one of those rare but still problematic moments of self-doubt, I sobbed on the phone to my insightful life coach, Adrienne Abeyta, about my latest worry. Adrienne and I had been working together for months and, oh, the doors she’s unlocked. But this latest concern seemed to have a dead bolt that wouldn’t budge.
“When I die, I want to be remembered as more than just a mom,” I explained, blubbering.
After allowing me to wail for a moment or two, she gently interjected, “So, what do you want to be remembered for?”
I realized I was in trouble. “I… I don’t know. I feel lost.”
I’ve read we’re all born with a life purpose, that reason for being our soul contracts with the universe because of the lessons we need to learn. It’s not always easy to figure out, but exploring the good you do is a great place to start. Some people become distracted by power and fame, making their mark with financial success only to discover that, in the end, they are just like any other person with sorrow and hardship. Others accept the life of poverty or physical limitations they were born into and become teachers for compassion. For me, for many years, there was no doubt in my mind—my life purpose was motherhood.
When I was young, my world centered around my doll menagerie. Later, it became about babysitting, then teaching. Enter my four kids, and I felt complete. That is, until l didn’t.
Watching my children grow up and move onto lives of their own has been a wonderful thing. But it’s also left me floundering. Without a schedule to keep, a fire to put out, a hand to hold when tears came, or being the #1 fan, I don’t know what to do with myself. It’s as if I’ve lost my identity. Hence, the need to be more than just a mother.
Once I finally stopped sniveling, Adrienne asked, “I understand this all too well, but I need you to tell me why you see yourself as only fulfilling this one role. It’s obvious you are more. On top of being a mom, you’re a writer, artist, dance teacher, and real estate agent. You’ve done a lot with your life, especially after you became single.”
As she listed my accomplishments, I began to feel foolish. Of course I’m more than a just mother. We’re all more than our role as a parent. My wayward ego of wanting to “be” something was blinding me once again. Sucking in a breath of air, I replied weakly, “I guess I just want to be needed.”
“Okay, you’re to think about this until we talk again. You’ve got some work to do.”
For the next month, I grappled with myself. I thought about my childhood and remembered how I often felt invisible in the midst of three brothers. But that was then. It wasn’t now. I thought about the jobs I’d taken on over the past fifty years. And, while none were done to perfection, they were completed successfully. I mulled over all the creative talents I’ve been blessed with, and despite the fact they don’t provide a sustainable income to replace the full-time job thing, they do bring tremendous pleasure.
Then I thought about my role as a mother—the devotion I poured into it, all the love my soul held for the job. While I didn’t do that perfectly either, each time I look at my four now-adult children, I feel a sense of immense pride. They’ve all grown into kind, responsible, and loving creatures who are forward moving and empathetic to the world at large. Then it hit—they didn’t get there all on their own. I had something to do with it.
By the time of our next call, I had a new vision of myself. I wasn’t just some mom. I was their mom: the giver of their life, the one who loved them with all my heart before they were even born, their teacher, spiritual counselor, provider, nurse, and best friend. When they were little, I was their entire world. At times even today, I still am. Motherhood isn’t just a full-time job but, for me, a lifelong career, and one I cherish. So, what’s wrong with that?
“How are you doing?” Adrienne started the session. “Are you feeling any better?”
Smiling, I thought about all the times my own mother told me, “We’re always a work in progress. It doesn’t end until God calls us home.” Understanding how my life purpose worked at this age was just another piece of the puzzle I needed to reshape to fit back into the true picture of me.
“You know,” I began, much calmer this time. “I’ve decided. If at the end of my life my kids only want to remember me as a good mother, then I’m fine with that. Because that is what I am. I’ve failed at so many things over the years, but this is one job I know I did well. And, I’m proud to say I’m not just a mom, I’m their mom.”
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