It was the day before the party, and I was just barely beginning to decorate the cake. As I was frosting it, I thought of how we were going to have to have a scrounge night again, because I did not have the time to make dinner. I thought of all the dishes I was leaving in the sink. I thought of all the million little tasks around the house that I was intentionally leaving undone in order for me to make this cake. This cake that I was not getting paid for. This cake that was a true labor of love, crafted out of my need to create and love for making beauty out of sugar. I thought of the extra TV my kids would be watching, a necessary compromise if I was to finish my creation on time.
And I thought, ‘I must be some kind of fool to be doing this. Why am I doing this? I don’t have time for this; I should not have offered to make this cake.’
Then guilt crept in, as sure and silent and all-consuming as a gas leak inside of a closed house. My job right now is my kids, but I’m abandoning them to the TV in pursuit of a far-fledged dream that I don’t even have time for. There I was, letting my kids have cereal and chips for dinner again so that I could throw myself into my passion.
Was I being selfish?
Was I misdirecting my energy?
Should I focus on getting myself and my family on a better routine before I pursue this?
Should I wait until I can keep my house clean on a regular basis before I even think about a side hustle run out of aforementioned disaster of a house?
My 6 year old was sitting at the kitchen counter passively watching me work while playing with a toy. I looked up at her and asked her, “Do you think I’m crazy for doing these cakes when I don’t have the time and I have all of you kids to take care of?”
She looked up at me with her brows knitted together in confusion. She didn’t understand why I would ever ask such a thing. The answer was plain to her:
“Well, it’s your dream, Mom. You have to go for it.”
This is why God gives us children–so that when we get lost in the suffocating trenches of Mirkwood Forest, where we lose all hope and are sure that we are really screwing up our lives, our kids can pull us back up into clean air through their innocent and naive faith in the unseen. When we are drowning in the confusion of losing our sense of purpose, a child’s simple, black and white way of thinking is the only thing that can redirect us. My daughter’s mind can’t yet balance the complexity of my position of trying to be a mom to 4 kids while also pursuing my dreams of baking and blogging. She doesn’t see the stress and guilt of trying to do it all but failing miserably. She sees that cakes are my dream. Therefore, I should go for it. Duh. Whatever has to happen in order for me to do that will have to happen. Because my dream takes priority over dishes and chores and yes, even giving all my time to my kids.
I think the problem is not in moms pursuing their dreams and passions too early on in motherhood, but it is in us trying to do it all. We can’t give all of our attention to our kids and all of our energy to housework and all of our drive to our passion, because that would be the equivalent of 1 person having 3 full time jobs. Which would be impossible for anyone to do.
We can not do it all, and that’s ok.
If we can let go of this impossible standard of doing it all, we would be free to redefine what success looks like. We would be free to finally stop participating in the comparison game, and just be our own unique selves. We would be free to be our own kind of amazing.
Mind, I’m not advocating neglecting your children or allowing your house to become something off of the show Hoarders. Obviously, there needs to be a balance. There will be days that are devoted to your family, and some that are devoted to scrubbing the sticky spots around your house that come with living with messy children. But there will also be days when the dishes wait and the kids are left to their own devices so that mama can chase her dream.
It will be hard and you will have to go without sleep some nights (but let’s be real–you haven’t slept in years anyways). You will have to make sacrifices in order to pursue your dream. But it’s ok to make those sacrifices. So stop with the self inflicting guilt trips, and go for it. After all, you only live once. Also–your kids are watching you. I don’t know about you, but I want my kids to know that their dreams are more important than a stack of laundry.
So even though I am a stay at home mom to 4 kids 6 and under and have absolutely no business doing anything other than surviving, I will continue to balance my laptop on my legs as I nurse, so that I can write in bits and pieces. I will continue to bake cakes in between cycles of dishes and in lieu of cooking dinner certain nights. Because I was made for more than just surviving–I was made to thrive.
And so were you.