Dear “Not Feeling It”…

I posted yesterday about the email I got asking for advice.  Thanks to you readers who already left comments with your ideas and suggestions. I knew you were wise.  Feel free to add more to the discussion, since I’m sure there will still be some holes left to fill after my answer.  Here’s the original question:

Stephanie,

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?

Thanks,

“Not Feeling It”

Dear “Not Feeling It,”

(Warning:  I tend to go overboard on this advice thing.  Get a comfortable seat.  It may take a while.)  🙂

Fulfillment is an elusive thing. Women are multi-faceted creatures, and while we can usually multi-task quite well, it’s kind of impossible to nourish every side of ourselves at once.  This is especially true for mothers because we have so many demands on our time and attention, and often those demands don’t line up very closely with our own “wish lists.”  I’m beginning to learn that “fulfillment” is fool’s gold.  Magazines, talk-show hosts, self-help authors, and other mothers at the playground tell us we should seek fulfillment and that our lives are incomplete without it.  However, I think that if we spend too much time looking for it, we’ll find ourselves none the richer, and in fact, even when we go to great lengths to fill all our personal “needs,” we still come up empty because the focus of that kind of treasure hunt is simply too self-centered.  Perhaps this is a little controversial, because while women are meant to be nurturers, we obviously must nourish ourselves enough to function properly.  Elder Ballard said, “Water cannot be drawn from an empty well,” and we serve best when we have reservoirs of energy, talent, and Spirit. I’m learning to work less toward fulfillment and more toward contentment.  Contentment, by definition, implies a certain sense of satisfaction and happiness on a very simple level.  It is independent of circumstance.  After briefly mentioning that the Phillipians had failed to take care of him, the apostle Paul wrote, “Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content.”

Happiness, joy, and deep satisfaction all make appearances on the stage of motherhood. They do. Some days and weeks are better than others. My own experience has taught me that Continue reading