Wednesday, October 19, 2011

When you build bridges you can keep crossing them.

Did they tell you, you should grow up
when you wanted to dream?
Did they tell you, better shape up
if you want to succeed?
I don't know about you,
who are they talking to?
They aren't talking to me.
No noise but the clothes in the dryer. No movement but the dancing shadows from the lone candle's flame. No company, but the warmth of my coffee mug rapidly escaping as the drink is consumed. Lonely evenings can only mean one thing: ponderings about life and questions about who I am(in case you're unfamiliar with this routine).

How is it possible to miss something you've never had?

I can remember being 8 or 9 years old when my mother taught my brother how to do his laundry when he was 12. Her thinking was that if my sister could learn to do it when she was his age, it was time for him to learn. I felt left out and demanded that she show me how to do my own laundry too. I also remember having my own ideas, from a very early age, of what a home should be like if it were to be in order. I don't really ever remember a time, once my awareness exceeded myself, where I wasn't picking up after people, cleaning up after people, putting their things away, keeping things in shape, telling everyone what to do. It wasn't long before I was dubbed by my siblings, "Mama Bekah."

"Mama Bekah has spoken!" they would say. It was their own way of humoring me by making me think I really did have a say in how their attitudes and behaviors would manifest themselves in our home. In my family, you are loved if you are teased and picked on. Because love, to us, means a lot of things including not letting anyone "get the big head," as my brother would say. Sarcasm: it keeps you humble.

They would (and continue to) tease me about my homemaking skills (or lack thereof, I got the laundry and cleaning down, but the cooking and sewing need a bit of work). It wasn't that I was terribly bad at any of those things, but they knew this was not all I desired. They knew there was - and is - something inside of me that yearns for adventure, something different, out of the ordinary. My mom always told me that while I can be a predictable, simple-living, practical, safe individual, "there's something in you that longs for the exotic." They taunted me with these ideas of what a good little homemaker I would be, knowing the idea bothered me just a tad, somewhere in the back of my mind, in a room I hadn't found the way to yet.

I have many dreams. They have each found their paths to a home in my heart over the years in their own special ways. They accumulate one by one with each new experience I have and each new love I acquire. Some have stayed with me consistently, some have bloomed, withered, and died. But the one dream, that has had neither a beginning, nor an end, just a constant existence in my basic makeup as a person, was to be a mom. The teasing about how I always have to keep things together for stuck with me. Somewhere deep down, I knew that while it was completely ridiculous for me to think as a ten-year-old that I should be able to run the lives of my siblings, those inclinations and desires came from a place within me that simply wants to make everything better for others. This thing in me that wants to solve your problems and clean up after you and make sure you're safe and watch out for you so you don't hurt yourself. This thing in me that just wants everything to be okay for you. The mother instinct. Even now with kids not 5, 6, or 7 years younger than myself, I have this uncontrollable urge to take care of them. To bake bread for them and be there for them and drive them places and look out for them. I don't know why, but I just love them too much. I know with absolute certainty that I would do anything for any of them at any time of day. Because that's who I am and that's what I was meant to do. It's what I want to do.

The dilemma I make of it is whether or not I can do that along with all the other things I want to do. I feel an expectation that if I don't fulfill all these dreams because of this original desire, than I have not reached my potential as a woman. And I must admit, I do worry about that sometimes. But if I had to give up everything for this one dream, I would. I just don't believe God would ask me to. For what can I offer my children of myself if there is no self to give? If I have allowed my personal identity to be dissolved into the role of a mom, who will they have as a mom? I have no problem with the idea of sacrificing. I will gladly do that for the opportunity of motherhood. I just have a problem with losing myself completely.

I do long for the exotic. I do fear a life of never getting away. But after a time, I wouldn't mind it. As much as I want to do all the things I want to do, there's something appealing and endearing to the idea of sitting on a couch folding sheets and towels.

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