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

The post where I finally get to be Dear Abby but I’m not nearly as good as I thought I’d be

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, Continue reading

One of the people I want to be when I grow up


Photo by Scot Facer Proctor

I don’t want to drive up to the pearly gates in a shiny sports car, wearing beautifully, tailored clothes, my hair expertly coiffed, and with long, perfectly manicured fingernails.

I want to drive up in a station wagon that has mud on the wheels from taking kids to scout camp.

I want to be there with grass stains on my shoes from mowing Sister Schenk’s lawn.

I want to be there with a smudge of peanut butter on my shirt from making sandwiches for a sick neighbor’s children.

I want to be there with a little dirt under my fingernails from helping to weed someone’s garden.

I want to be there with the children’s sticky kisses on my cheeks and the tears of a friend on my shoulder.

I want the Lord to know I was really here and that I really lived.

Marjorie Pay Hinckley