So, I’ve gotten hooked on podcasts. Has this happened to any of you? I might be late to this scene, but now I’m totally addicted. It started a few months ago when I was doing a lot of long walks to train for my desert trek. I wanted something to listen to, but I was growing tired of music. Which is weird- how do you grow tired of music? But I did. So, I started listening to a podcast that a friend recommended, and now I have so many downloaded on my phone that my phone storage is full.
So, one of the podcasts eating up my storage space these days is called The Simple Show and it’s hosted by Tsh Oxenrieder. She’s a writer, traveler, entrepreneur, and mom who encourages people to live with intention and purpose, so her topics are right up my alley. Today I was listening to an episode where she interviews another mom named Maggie. Maggie mentions in the interview that she just turned 30 and has a two and half year old, a one year old, and is expecting baby number three. Tsh also has three children, but her youngest is 5. At one point in the show Tsh said to Maggie that she remembers being at that stage in life, and she points out that she isn’t really that much farther ahead – “just one more bend in the road.” I thought it was a great expression and it occurred to me as I listened to the interview that I’m really just one more bend in the road ahead of Tsh as my youngest is turning 10 next month.
It’s not like I’m miles and miles ahead of these amazing women – just a few more steps on the motherhood trail – but it was so interesting to listen to them today. I could hear Maggie in particular, wrestling with the desire to be home with her children and to pursue her passions and find time for being creative and building a business from home. She was very aware that in life, there are naturally seasons for everything. She knows that the stage of raising young children is super consuming and doesn’t leave a lot of room for other pursuits, and she is navigating her own path intentionally and beautifully. But it hit me so hard as I was listening to her internal struggle that I believe some of the issues women in our culture face regarding motherhood and work revolve around our negative outlook on aging. That might seem like a big, disconnected leap, but stick with me.
It’s so natural for a woman to want to be with her children, but it’s also so natural for her to want to contribute her other gifts to the world. But why do we feel this urgency to be mastering both of these things by the time we’re 35? Why do we think we need to peak in our careers, write all our books, or paint all our masterpieces while our kids are still little? Could it be because we believe that by the time our kids are grown, our best years are behind us? Ouch. Is that too touchy? It’s just that I’m really starting to mull this over now that I’m 40 and my kids are feeling really, really close to being grown. I know they are so not grown, but heading into the teen years does bring some of the brevity of our kids’ years at home to the surface of my mind, and the truth is I am awakening to the fact that many of my best years are still ahead of me.
Other than 2 years of part-time work outside the home, I have been home full-time with my children for almost 13 years now. There was some sacrifice involved in that, for sure, but I can also see how that time has allowed me to mature and experience more of life and I am more ready than ever to tackle the dreams I have for my next 40 years. My gifts and passions, which I’ve used and pursued to some extent for decades, are now more refined and cultivated. I understand myself so much better. God has spent decades preparing me for the work I am only just beginning now. I think ahead to my coming years and I feel myself saying, “Look out world, I’ve got stuff to say and things to do!”
So, with that in mind, I have three things I want to say to the moms who are bend or two back in the road.
#1. Getting older is awesome. Our culture does not value aging, and that’s a powerful message to try and ignore, but you can personally choose to embrace and joyfully anticipate the wisdom, perspective, freedom, and peace that comes with years of living intentionally.
#2. The experiences of life and motherhood are maturing you in beautiful ways and your contributions to the world will be even more rich on the other side of having little ones underfoot than they are now. Whether you are home full time or working outside the home, every mother is mentally, emotionally, and physically giving valuable years to her children. But you will have many more valuable years when they are grown to further nurture your gifts and dreams. And if, God forbid, you don’t, and your life is taken early, you won’t regret investing the best of yourself into your children.
#3. Give yourself grace with the capacity you have now. If you have a passion for art and you paint just one canvas this year, then relish those moments you had to enjoy it and be encouraged about how you will watch that gift flourish when the time is right. If you are building a business and you feel you’re only taking baby steps, appreciate what you’re learning and contributing to the family income for now, and dream about where you can take that business when its season comes.
And I have one thing to ask of the moms who are a bend or two or twenty ahead on the road.
Please keep showing us how much there is to look forward to up ahead. We need you and value you and every time you use your gifts and pursue your dreams, you show us how it’s done and remind us that there are more incredibly fruitful seasons coming our way too.