When I was eighteen I had a surgery done. I was diagnosed with a little disease called endometriosis. Endometriosis has been the bad boyfriend I have been trying to break up with for 35 years. He wreaks havoc on my anatomy and never asks for permission to enter —he just unleashes his fury brazenly and brashly no matter how many times the scalpel tries to kick him out. But I have grown to accept him and in an odd way be thankful for him.
Here’s how Mr. endometriois works: The endometrium grows outside the body and clings to everything it shouldn’t—it’s like the drunk party guest that just breaks lamps, knocks down glasses and spills drinks and then leaves you to clean up the mess.
I will never forget my doctor standing over me post-surgery, still disoriented from the drugs with her reflection looking more like the end of a kaleidoscope —I could barely make her face out, but I could hear her perfectly. With the best poker face there ever was she told me in a flat line tone, “ Lindsay, you are going to have a very hard time having kids.” She was right. And she was wrong. Granted to this day I am convinced that my ovaries are a bit dyslexic and spit out sperm with the grimace face of one that has just gulped a tepid and very flat diet coke . What that doctor told me that day gave me this unhealthy fear of getting older—I didn’t fear the lines setting in around my eyes like unwanted linear tattoos or my derriere tapping out to the great enemy known as gravity. No I just feared losing my femininity—my ability to bring life into this world. Always picturing my female anatomy turning into dried up bread left out too long –bringing no nutrients to this world—just a bland flavor and a stale bite.
I tell you this because we as women are so tied to this fire inside us that burns—that spark that is lit the moment we take our first breathe by the Creator. To love. To nurture. To be a Mother. It’s visceral. Ask any woman that can’t conceive to verify. I always told Seth it was like being ravenous with no hope of food. It’s just that powerful.
Are there really any words that can sum of being a mom? It’s the hardest role there is yet this mothering gig comes with no road map—most days it can feel like a maze with no exit and often it feels like there are plenty of trap doors lying behind uncertain circumstances. As of late I have grappled with the magnitude of this role we females are given. Like God dropped millions of dollars of diamonds in our lap and said, “It’s yours to protect, nourish and when they become dirty by this world’s winds you are to find the beauty in them and bring them to life again. Good luck, each diamond is unique and one of a kind.”
I mean, what does one woman do with such a task?
Recently I called my friend Boothe, ever honest and exuding proverbial wisdom. I find her words like a bright light to my clouded thoughts—like when you open the curtains to a dark kitchen—the light shakes you, wakes you, you reevaluate your surroundings with the precise accuracy that only light and truth can bring instead of grappling in the darkness hoping you are grabbing a spoon and not a knife. So I told her that I just felt kind of worthless because I hadn’t been writing much as I had this revelation last fall that I needed to slow down and that it didn’t matter how much I wrote if my kids didn’t know I loved them –that they were more important than writing. I needed breathing room. I was over leveraged and under- energized. And it was all self-inflicted. I suffer from a disease called “I want to do it all”. So far there is no drug to remedy my ailment. This last late fall was the first time in my life I began to understand that mothering is a long term investment with no real returns until your kids are 30 years of age at best and quite possibly never at worst. But I began to see that my children were my biggest venture—they did not ask to come into this world and what good did it do to give writing my first fruits and twiddle with twitter , fiddle with facebook and give my kids my left overs all because mommy made writing and achievement her idol. You know, deep inside I never wanted to hear them say, “Mommy was writing to the world about Jesus’s love for humanity, yet she never made any time for us.” I am so glad God revealed that to me.
You see, something ensued last spring ( I will write more about this later). I had a crazy thing happen to me—someone from a major publishing house contacted me about my story in regards to my mom and Posey. At first I shut the door on it…scared and overwhelmed by the task at hand and wondering did I have what it took to even do a book proposal? I mean, I can’t keep up with my keys and I often call my child by my dog’s name– not exactly Jane Austen material. All that to say, I did it. I did the proposal..all FIFTY EIGHT pages. I turned it in in April. It passed the test in May. Things moved fast and furious –by late July I felt like I was in the final episode of American Idol–each week making it past one more filter.
I had made it to the very end. Then I got a phone call on August 1st. They couldn’t go forward, the publishing house had to pass. They were gracious and wonderful and I had given it my all. And you know what is crazy? I am so thankful. Soooooo thankful.
It’s like God picked me off a train going 190 miles an hour headed not toward mayhem, not even the wrong direction, just not on His timeline. I know this sounds bizarre, but I realized if the book would have been published I would have missed out on so much of my kid’s lives. Ironically I wouldn’t be able to spend time with them because I would’ve been writing about them. Foolishness is made evident in the rearview mirror.
Doesn’t mean I don’t still want to write. Doesn’t mean I don’t think the book will be published one day. In my heart I know it will be but it must be in God’s time, not mine. What does all this mean?
It means you nor I need to shelve our passions—we just have to find balance; a priority shift. Truth is no one is going to stop you and me on the road and say, “Wow, you are an amazing mom for loving your kids and instilling time, affection, and tenderness into them.” Our society doesn’t work that way. But if you write a number one song, decorate like Martha Stewart, post the best updates on twitter or facebook well then you get to wear the crown of “ I matter. “ Truth is there are no Oscars for Moms. It’s just the way it is—much like gravity you cannot change it. And oddly, I am learning to be okay with that principle. I am learning to somewhat embrace it. Sacrificial love would never be such if everyone followed you around with cameras and a spot light. Because it would then be about me, about you—not about those little ones nuzzling around our feet at supper time….their bellies temporarily hungry, their souls permanently starving for love and validation.
Hear me out: Now,I am not angry about this nor do I think we should all quit our jobs or passions and wear our hair in buns with no makeup and sing kumbya all day and reread Dr. Seuss 1,398 times. I am just simply saying, being there for your kids, investing in them so that they can in turn bring life,joy, and love to the next generation all because you made them feel important is the most significant job IN THE WORLD. You will never get a crown, a raise, and you may not get acknowledged in the news. But there is no price tag to be found on a human soul that knows it is loved and cherished unconditionally—it’s the key that unlocks our potential magic. A boy that holds his head high and knows how to love a woman with respect and dignity, a girl that grows up into a woman and settles for nothing but a gentleman that treats her as she was a treasure—well that is priceless.
Titles come and go—no matter what you and I are good at we will be replaced by the next big thing. The next best writer. The next best surgeon. The next best CEO. So if you are a mama work at your passion whether it is being an attorney, a homemaker, or a doctor. By no means feel guilt or shelve these callings—that would be reckless as well. Just know that what you do when no one is looking, when you are dog tired and reading that book for the umpteenth time or having an incoherent conversation about Avengers with your four year old on the way to school instead of talking on your phone…well, those things matter. You are changing the world. Because you are changing them. Love always seems to lend itself to masterpieces without even trying.
And may I say one last thing to my fellow infertile friends?. Don’t lose heart. You are worthy. You are loved. You are good enough. You are woman enough. You didn’t drink too many diet sodas and mess up your anatomy. You didn’t start trying too late. Too young. Too whatever it is that is beating you up at night. Being a mother comes in all forms and fashions…because in essence being a mom is saying,
“ I choose you and YOU matter and no matter what happens, no matter who leaves or goes or comes or criticizes you—I will be here and I love you. “
And that makes all woman entrusted with this amazing gift called motherhood.
some of my favorite motherhood moments…
Left) Roman at 3 months. Still the cuddler. born at 42 weeks and still running late:) My little mini me…in his own world and always wildly imaginative, but ALL boy and ALL heart.
right) the day Posey was born…before the adoption was final. I was so scared and yet so sure. She is sassy, sweet and beyond a blessing.
Posey with her ultimate obsession, her Daddy:)
I have this on my desk because when I am dog tired and have worn workout clothes for 5 days without really working out I realize that my children are gifts and i don’t want to to take them for granted.