What have I accomplished in my 30 years? All too often I see pitying (or maybe they're critical and judgmental) eyes for not having finished college yet. I'm often criticized and argued against that at this point in my life I've decided to stay home with my children until they enter school, as if I'm not contributing to society by not earning a paycheck. It’s inferred that I’m selfish for staying home with my children. I'm often told "Three kids is enough, you shouldn't want more, it’s selfish and wrong" and yet I do want more children.
So here's my life. This is who I am.
I’m a mother to three young daughters. I'm 75 pounds heavier than I was in college, thanks to baby weight. My children love me. My husband loves me. My friends and family love me. I'm not always so sure I love myself, especially when I look in the mirror. But then my babies hug me, or one of them lays her head on my breast and says "I love that my mommy is my own pillow. It sure feels good to hug you." And I know why it's all right to carry a little more of myself than I would like. I know it's worth it to have the treasures that I have.
I’m a brown-eyed brunette. I lived in an apartment that I didn't own any more than the day I first moved into it for 6.5 yrs, but now I live in a beautiful home in a good neighborhood that we own. I have earned most of a college education behind me. I try to educate myself as best I can in the topics that affect me most, including child care. I have 12 years of solid work history behind me. I've been with the same man for over 10 years, over 7 of those years having been married. I have kept up my close childhood friendships, as well as some choice friends from college. I'm close to my siblings as well as my husband's siblings. My parents and my in-laws are still married and alive. I’m lucky enough that two of my grandparents are still here as well.
I'm a painter and craftswoman by inclination and talent. I’m good with clay, crafts, pencil, charcoal, water-colors, acrylics, oil crayons, and abstract art. I’m a writer through hobby and love of literature; I write poems and short stories. I’m a cook. I’m a musician; I’ve been able to play the piano since childhood and I’m a singer; I’ve been in several plays and concerts, although it’s admittedly been a while.
I am not an athlete. I’m not a liar nor a thief. I am not tolerant of cruelty. I hate bugs, but mostly spiders and moths. I am not always patient or thoughtful or reasonable even though I try. I am not good with pain unless it’s labor. I am not made of the stuff that doctors are made of; blood makes me squeamish even though I can get through a crisis.
I live a life without regret. I'll never look back on my life wishing I had done things differently. I'll never say "I wish I'd chosen getting my degree before having my children." I will never, in my old age, sit in my rocking chair on the porch next to old Matilda simpering "I wish I'd spent more time on laundry, work, and judgements." I hope I never say "I wish I had played with my kids more. I wish I had spent more time with my spouse. I wish I had friends to share my joys and sorrows with." I live a life I'm proud of, and that's how I've always lived my life. I accept the pain with the rewards and rather than worry how things should be, I try to look life in the face and approach everything head-on directly. I'm honest, compassionate, generous, truthful, fair, tolerant and real. I do my best not to judge others, or to hate or criticize. Those things take too much energy away from being happy and joyful. I try not to lay blame nor disrespect at anyone else's feet.
I'm spiritual. I may not always attend Church but I believe in God and am thankful every day for all that I have. I'm strong in my faith and am confident that my faith is being instilled in my children. I'm firm in my morals, my beliefs and my convictions but I strive to have an open mind, ready to learn what those who differ from me have to teach me.
I try to hone my skills and look to the future without letting it eat me alive. I work well under pressure and in emergency situations. I try to live in the now and the immediate and near future and yet have a realistic view of where I will be in five years. And 10, 20, and 30 years from now. I make sure that I have dreams, goals and aspirations. I try to inspire others to do good as I do. I look for the inspiration to be and do good, and sometimes it’s a struggle but my intentions are always good. I have idealistic goals right along with my good old every-day, every-person dreams and wishes. I have a healthy measure of insanity and high expectations of myself and others. I know my limits but I reach for the sky, expecting that everyone around me does the same.
I strive for personal achievement and satisfaction daily. I don't always attain it, but I'm always trying. My goal each day is to be a good friend, mother, wife, sister, daughter, aunt, sister-in-law, cousin, niece, grand-daughter, customer, neighbor, home-maker, and woman. I fail miserably most days, but know that I still did my best and did it the most moral way I know how. My home is often a disaster. I’m guilty of playing with my children. I’m rightfully accused of putting my family before my housework. And I’m not sorry. My home is clean, it’s simply untidy. But some would judge that I’m an unfit home-maker because I don’t freak out and live in a sterile and clutter-free home.
I try not to think of ownership when it comes to my family, especially my children. Americans all too often "have" things. We "have a spouse" rather than say "I'm married to a wonderful man." We "have someplace to go" rather than say "My day is full and I'm running errands for things we need." We "have sex" rather than "make love." We "have to fulfill an obligation" rather than "we're honored to be attending a friend/cousins' wedding." We "have to have a party" rather than "we're celebrating the birth of our children/uncles/grandparents."
I'm not the same person I was when I graduated high school, or moved out of my mother's home. I'm not even the same person I was yesterday. I'm not the same person I will be tomorrow. I don't hide from that fact, nor am I afraid of it. I welcome the new me with open arms, for hopefully she will be a better person than I am now. Hopefully she'll be someone I can look up to. She'll be wiser, kinder, more generous, happier, more peaceful, a better all-around woman than I am today.
I carry the same jealousies, envies and dislikes as the next person. I harbor nightmares & fears just like anyone else. I have ideals and what I hope are high moral values. But I’m secure in my knowledge that I’m doing the best I can. And even though I’m not wealthy in the monetary sense, I’m wealthy beyond belief in my personal life. I’m far richer than many will ever know. I’m successful beyond my past expectations. I am where I am because I fought my way here. I attained all that I have because I worked hard to do so. And with all that I’ve accomplished, I know that there is so much more.
I’m content but not complacent. I’m full of love but not filled. I’m idealistic but not unrealistic. I am a success. I am a woman and all that implies. I am me.