This post about motherhood got me thinking about my life and identity.   The author had always imagined that she would be a carefree laid-back type of mom, only to realize post-kids that she is more “Type-A” mom with need for structure and planning in her day.  At the end she asks:  Have you ever realized that something you always thought was true—or hoped was true—about yourself was all wrong?

When I was in college, I could definitely describe myself as laid-back and independent with a creative/rebellious spirit.  I scoffed at friends who dreamt of a more conventional life with kids and mortgages.  I must have read Hemingway or Scott Fitzgerald at some point because I also fantasized a lot about the ex-pat life in Paris.   Obviously life didn’t happen as expected.  I never moved abroad and ended up with a string of 9-to-5 jobs.  I married and had kids.  The only thing missing was the mortgage, due to high cost of homes in Los Angeles.  

Later in life, I started idealizing a simpler life at home with kids (for at least one year, possibly with a part-time job or at least a flexible schedule).  What I didn’t envision was working full-time and cobbling together childcare so soon after their births.   Because my ideal didn’t mesh with reality, I held onto some anger for a long time about my life and bad fortune. 

In many, many ways, my life did not live up to either my youthful ideal or to my later SAHM dream/ideal.  This caused an unhealthy amount of anger and frustration.  I’m trying to deal with this by moving on and accepting my life.  Which means….I need to value the independent/resourceful side of myself as much as my carefree side.  I need to value working and my ability to help to support my family.   I have to accept that the 40-year old me is not very free-spirited at all.  Who would have thought that I would end up driving a conservative car, dressing in a clean-cut preppy style, and reading Smartmoney over poetry*?  I’ve changed so much that there’s no way the younger me would want to hang out with the 4o-year old me, and that’s OK.  I also have to acknowledge that a tiny part of me is happy to work.  I do enjoy having adult conversations, an excuse to shower and dress up, and quiet/alone time (even if that alone time is only during work hours on a non-hectic work day or during my commute).   

Part of this acceptance also means that I have to accept my husband and family, quirks and all.  Sometimes I get mad at my husband because he has held onto his more carefree, or should I say disorganized, ways while I have learned to be uber-organized.  At the same time, I can’t blame him for that change.  Perhaps if he were super-organized, I could slack off a bit but it is what it is

I really want to move into the next phase of my life with less drama and more love.  It’s so easy for me to accept my kids and love them as they are. I wonder why it’s so hard to do the same for myself and other adults?!

So, I am asking the same question, “Have you ever realized that something you always thought was true—or hoped was true—about yourself was all wrong?”

* Note: Ok, I was never crazy about poetry even in my free-spirited days. It just seems an appropriate in that sentence to illustrate the complete opposite of Smartmoney magazine!

8 responses to “Acceptance

  1. Great post. My personal epiphany happened after I took a free online Myers-Briggs test and found out my type (INFJ) and my hubby’s type (INTJ) and then read “Mother Styles: Using Personality Type to Discover Your Parenting Strengths” by Janet P. Penley. Turns out I have a fairly rare personality type in America, and the more I read online and in the book, my own quirks suddenly made a lot of sense. The way I need my life structured to optimize my happiness – lots of solitude, for someone to take my kids out of my house while I work there alone, punctuality, for things to happen on a planned schedule, a few deep friendships – my way doesn’t always match the typical ideas of what society suggests most mothers want. For example, the newborn phase of hanging around the house on mat leave was good to me, but I can see how it can be soul-crushing for other types. My kids got much harder when they started talking back, and I wasn’t alone in the quiet enough. My greatest parenting challenges have been with my 2.5 year old kid who is more extroverted than I am.

  2. To answer your question…I probably look at it from a slightly different point of view…..I always thought of my self as fairly shy and very slack with exercise……when in fact….If you ask others they think that I am outgoing and not shy at all, (I have no problem around those I know..I am just very shy in new situations with new people). I am not slack with exercise…I walk the dog daily and do a Zumba class….I had just never found an exercise/fitness activity I liked when I was younger and now I love it.
    I try to be true to me and as a 45 year old am re learning who the “real me” is…..the closer I get the happier I am. I now always take time to make choices and try to do what I really want and like……I believe that we are happiest when we are authentic!

  3. I dunno. I tend to think of myself as changeable… if there’s something I hope is true but isn’t true yet, I’ve worked on it.
    At the same time, Virginia Valian helped me realize that all those people telling me to take a break and relax and be less productive … that dream of retiring to doing nothing but reading novels and household chores… that wouldn’t actually make me happy.

  4. “It is what it is”. I dislike this phrase. You can change anything. Try leaving the house in a dire mess for as long as you can bear it and see what happens…

    • JNU — I dislike that phrase too! Maybe I should have said “He is who he is” just as I am who I am. It’s not really a chore dispute, more about who is the “planner” in the family. The best analogy I can think of is work-based. If we were both employees at a company, the boss would quickly notice that I’m better at planning. He could improve and has improved, but it’s definitely more stressful for him and in general he won’t be as “good” at it as I am.

  5. I’m realizing that I don’t like reading fiction as much as I think I should. I think I want to seem erudite and literary (like your poetry realization) but it’s not what I’m naturally drawn to.

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