There’s something you should know about me. I give too much advice. I love to give advice. Some might think it’s arrogant, but it really stems from a deep desire to help people. (And maybe a teeny, tiny feeling that I might possibly have a morsel of wisdom to share.) When people start telling me about a concern or a struggle, my brain automatically makes a list of my favorite talks, quotes, scriptures, life experiences, etc. that seem to be a perfect fit, and those things totally bulldoze their way from my brain to my mouth. I swear it’s a little involuntary. So if my siblings are reading, please know my unsolicited advice-giving compulsion comes out of LOVE (and maybe a little chemical imbalance in my brain).
Given this gift/defect I have, I’ve always kind of fantasized about being a Dear Abby type person, kind of like the bearded guru who sits on a mountain and answers people’s deepest questions (but more like an unshowered housewife who sits on an office chair with chocolate chips and Pringles while her kids watch Super Why and makes up answers for people who somehow thought she might have a modicum of insight.) What can I say? I dream big. Well, just when I thought my wish might never come true, I got two emails and a phone call this past week from wonderful women who were actually ASKING for my advice.
However. I know I don’t have all the answers. And this past week has been SO busy (I know people say that all the time, but I am DEAD serious) that I haven’t been able to dedicate as much thought to them as I would like. I’m working on my responses because their questions are so important. In fact, I think their questions address struggles that we universally face as mothers, women, and daughters of God.
I’m finally getting to my point here. I am really, truly going to answer their questions, but I think you can help. I would love for them to feel an outpouring of love, advice, empathy, and camaraderie from a handful of women around the blogosphere. Basically, I’m going to let you share in my Dear Abby glory.
We’ll start this series with an email from “Not Feeling It.” I’ve edited out all the parts where she tells me why she wanted to ask me for advice– because I’m really humble like that, plus I already printed it and had it embroidered on a pillow.
Dear Abby/Stephanie (that’s me. tee hee hee.),I feel like something is missing in my life. I’m taking care of the kids, exercising, reading — I don’t know what it is, but I just feel pretty empty. I’m kind of going through the motions, but I don’t have a sense of direction. So it makes me wonder if moms like you feel fulfilled.
Do you? Do you feel complete/ whole? It probably sounds dumb. I don’t know that I necessarily need something else in my life, but that I need to figure out how to find the substance in the life I already have. Do you have any perspective on this?
“Not Feeling It”
What do you think, dear wise readers? Share your response in the comments, and please reply in a spirit of charity. My own reply is forthcoming…
12 thoughts on “The post where I finally get to be Dear Abby but I’m not nearly as good as I thought I’d be”
Man, this is a toughie!! I would recommend that the person make a list of all of their goals and dreams they have. Did they ever want to open a bakery? Write it down, etc.
And then look over and see if they have anything that is unfinished.
Here’s my take on it: I have lived through the years where the whole day is consumed with cleaning little people and their messes. It seemed never ending at the time. My home is now child-free. But the truth is that a lot of our lives are filled with mundane and boring chores, sprinkled with a few transcendent moments here and there. The time will pass quickly and soon you will be able to fill your days with the things that you believe will add meaning to your life, the goals and dreams that are yours alone. Honestly, though, when you look back, the moments that you are living now will be the ones that you remember as the most meaningful in your life.
i do feel fullfilled. i really do. i didnt allways. in fact, i went through some pretty scary/icky/faith trying times getting there.
but my fulfillment comes from the spirit, i am not super spiritual or anything, i just found more value and joy out of focusing on other people, and on the gospel- rather than myself. i found that in losing myself to the cause of christ, i found myself. i found deeper joy, deeper potential and purpose than i have ever known. i got involed in something bigger than me. i stopped trying to find what was missing and starting asking the lord, what i could do.
i find that when that feeling starts creeping back, and it ALLWAYS does, and ALLWAYS will, i take inventory, and realize i am being self centered. my thoughts are all about me, my actions revove around myself and my own wheels that are spinning, it is then, i have to take a huge spoonful of humility, and get to work. then i feel better.
Because I went through eight long years feeling like this before I got help, I really want to put ‘depression’ out there for this woman. It is not the blues. It’s not having a bad attitude. It’s not about disliking your role as a mother and homemaker, or about not being spiritual enough, or organized enough, or any of the myriad things that, frankly, we often say to each other without meaning to be hurtful. And you have as little control over it as you would the color of your eyes. So please, consider seeing a doctor, and discuss these things with them.
Having said that, I can honestly say that I did NOT feel fulfilled and complete during the little-kid years. I’m not a natural mother to little ones; I’ve done much better with my teenagers. But I loved my littles, and I did have a firm conviction that what I was doing was important. “Not Feeling It”, be assured that you are in good company, and what you’re feeling is understandable.
It’s also temporary. Kids grow up, they move into a more independent stage of life, and bit by bit you find yourself with some time to pick up with some of the interests you may have tabled when your kids were small.
I didn’t begin my career as a symphony and chorus conductor until I was 40, despite the fact that it was the only thing I ever really wanted to do. I didn’t take up writing in earnest until I was 44. I don’t feel like those years were wasted, and I’ve been surprised and grateful to learn that my talents, intellect, and capacity for learning and growth were all still in there, waiting for me.
ifi despression is what she is dealing with, you are complletely right. i have been there, and a good dose of medication and therapy helped me through that battle. it is good advice for her to explore that, and see if that is what is going on. there seems to be such a bad stigma attached to it, and so much that is misunderstood. so many poeple feel like they have to hide it instead of getting the help they need. which is to bad. i guess when i read the letter, i was thinking of it from where i am now, and not being considerate enough of where i have been, mmm…good lesson for the day…
Some days the only fulfillment is knowing I made it through another day.
Thanks, DeNae for sharing about starting things after 40. I am so close to giving up on starting things because I’m not in my 20s or 30s anymore. Thanks for saying that those years weren’t wasted because that’s what I’ve been thinking of late.
As a mom, it is not unusual to feel like you are just existing. The demands of motherhood and wifehood can cause depression in some women. I have experienced this feeling. It was after I quit my full-time job to be a stay at home wife. I discovered that as a people pleaser, I had no one to please except my husband. I had no goal to reach. Having a goal, be it a vacation, a project at work, spring cleaning, an upcoming social event, makes me feel useful and part of the greater scheme of things.
Good job exercising regularly–that can be so difficult with small kids. I highly recommend working on a goal–even just a little a day. A dream to work toward. And make sure your spiritual needs are met through prayer and scripture daily. I feel more myself when I do so.
I’ve felt this way, too. I remember praying one night, and receiving a distinct feeling that my Heavenly Father loved me and missed me. Missed me. And then I thought that maybe that slightly lacking, unfulfilled feeling was just a longing to be where I really belong. Home. I think that we’re all here on loan. It’s a probationary state, a preparatory state. Not a permanent state. I think of whenever my children or husband are gone for any reason, school, work, vacation, etc. Not matter how important or fun the occasion, it always feels best when we’re all home, together, sleeping in our own beds. I think our Heavenly Father want all his children to come home, and our spirits feel that occasional tug to return.
I was feeling like this quite recently and came to the conclusion that I was lacking proper balance in my life. I thought back to a health and wellness class I had taken in college where we had to set daily goals and decided to impelement this again. I talked my husband into doing it with me, so he and I both set daily individual goals in the areas of spritiual, social, emotional, mental, and physical. Some days the goals are more substantial than other days, but everyday there is at least something in each area. We’ve only been doing this for two weeks, but I’ve noticed a difference. There’s a little more meaning and focus in each day.
Excuse my spelling errors! I suppose I should’ve checked it before submitting it.
Thank you to everyone who has commented so far! I’m not the one that asked this question, but I’ve definitely felt this way a lot. (I think I feel like this especially with newborns!) All your comments are wonderful.
I also wanted to add that Satan knows we’re the foundation of our homes. He attacks the family, and the mom is not least on that list of victims! Just know where those negative feelings come from. I’m definitely not suggesting you’re bad to feel that way!! It’s just that he knows he can get to us through our self-esteem.