Some time last year, Etsy (an online market for handmade goods) issued a challenge for its members to not buy any new clothes for… was it three months? Six months? Instead, participants in the challenge were to “repurpose” their old clothes — cut up the cloth and sew something new, embellish it, or otherwise change the old item’s look into something newly refashioned.
I didn’t participate, because I’m crafty/artsy only in spurts, not really as a way of life. Plus, not buying new clothes for three months is no challenge. I hardly ever buy clothes. If Clinton and Stacy came over to tell me What Not to Wear and went through my closet, instead of throwing out garbage pail-fulls of clothes, they’d be like, “Umm… where are they??”
But, Etsy’s challenge was a good one.
Yesterday, I read some blip by some actress from a TV show I’d never even heard of, let alone seen, about how her character is “back to finding who she was” before she had a husband and child, and about how that was particularly apropos because she herself was doing the same thing, returning to acting after having a daughter two years ago.
Now, please understand me. I am NOT totally against women serving in the workforce. I think too many moms are working, but there are situations where it is certainly warranted.
In fact, I find myself wishing I had a nursing degree so I could work one 12-hour shift a week, like an acquaintance does… That would be cool. A meaningful job, pay for more than a pittance, not too much of a strain on myself or my family…
But, for every mom who has to work, there are at least as many moms who are like the mother who — to my shock and chagrin — told a pregnant mom in my hearing, “If you want things to be easier after she’s born, go back to work as SOON AS YOU CAN!!!”
But, I (sort of) digress.
I’ve been thinking about what that actress said…
On my walk this morning (YAY!!! I’m back to walking!! At least once!! Let’s hope it becomes a habit!! And then becomes actual running again!!), I thought, “I so don’t want to go back to who I was before I had a husband and children.” Speaking of chagrin, I cringe every time an old friend says, “I remember when you said…” or something of the like. In other words, I’d like to think that I’ve grown up a bit since then.
I don’t think my interests have changed all that much; the same things that piqued my interests years ago, still do… like writing, and singing, and reading, and running, etc. In that sense, I’m still who I was.
But, my focus has changed. My time-expenditure has changed. My thoughts have changed. My priorities have changed. My opinions have changed. My convictions have changed.
I’ve lived my married life and life as a mother and life as just living… and… I don’t know how to say this, exactly, but it’s like all those experiences from the last 14+ years have been incorporated into who I am NOW, and I just wouldn’t ever want to go back.
Unless, as a single person, one makes serious, concerted effort to not live entirely independently, as a single, one most often (in my observation and experience) lives a very self-focused life. You live by yourself. You process things through the filter of, “What’s best for me?” You spend all your time at your own discretion, primarily on your own interests. Then… you bring that into a marriage, and into your motherhood.
(Being a Christian throws another wrench in the best-for-me thing, too, because really, our cause should be the cause of Christ and His Kingdom… but that’s another topic altogether.)
I’m not saying that the self-focus of a single person is bad, per se. But, when one chooses to marry, and even moreso when one bears children, if you live only to pursue your own interests, and retain that best-for-me filter, it’s a recipe for disaster.
Families are, by nature, not about one person and her interests.
It’s not like those interests disappear, but they do need to become repurposed.
If you write and you’re single, you can stay up with your journal and a neverending cup of coffee at Denny’s until 2 a.m., and there’s no one who will pay for it, other than yourself. However, if you do that and you have, say, five kids… well, the kids suffer, as does the home. It’s not like one should stop writing and tend only to husband and children and home, but one would almost certainly need to pick a different time in which to write.
And so on. (Actually, the “examples” section of this should really be expanded — there are a whole host of examples about things to which my life and its efforts have been applied that I never previously envisioned, but have turned out extremely rewarding. But, I’m out of time, and if I save this this as a draft, it’ll languish in my drafts folder, and never get published.)
And, it’s not like you even need to suffer for it! Lives, like hand-crafted items, can become more meaningful, more interesting, more intricately detailed… and simply a better use of materials, if simply repurposed.