Learning to Choose

When I was a child I always felt a thrill of excitement when an adult asked me the classic question “What do you want to be when you grow up?” My little sister would always pipe up “a mom” when she was asked this question. I would think “boring” and then rattle off my auspicious list. “An author, a violinist, a singer, a soccer player, an actor, an artist, a scientist.” The adult would smile patronizingly and think “what a cute, confused answer.” What they didn’t know is that I DID want to do everything. And I thought I could.
My mother faced a similar challenge with me as I grew older and starting to acquire extra-curricular activities and commitments. I wanted swim AND do track AND soccer AND be in the plays and musicals, sing in the choir, take dance lessons and violin and guitar. I filled positions in student leadership such as class president and student body commissioner, registered a schedule full of honors and AP classes, took on leadership positions in student clubs, and continued taking art and producing pieces for art contests and competitions. All the while I kept my social calendar full of boys and friends and who knows what. Are you exhausted yet?
I recall one afternoon, when I felt particularly overwhelmed, my mother threw up her hands in exasperation and exclaimed “You can’t do EVERYTHING!!”
I remember thinking, why not?? I just LOVED everything. But I frequently ran into this problem—I would pile I little bit of everything on my plate because I just wanted to try it, or I thought it would be interesting, or thought I would be good at it. And before I knew it, my plate would be too full and I would become overwhelmed.
I continued to live this way through my college years—achieving great success and scholarships along the way, but I don’t feel I was entirely satisfied with my life. You see, I had failed to learn what my mother patiently tried to teach me all those years. You have to choose. We can’t be everything, we can’t do everything. If we want to be satisfied and feel fulfilled with our lives we have to choose the things that are most important to us.
I feel that I only recently have begun to learn these lessons. How does a chronic over-achiever like myself learn to choose and simplify? Well, simply put—she has a baby and decides to stay home to raise him.
Keeping my commitment to give up my professional career and some other exacting pursuits to become a career mom has been one of the most challenging endeavors of my life. It has required a lot of mental discipline for me to remain focused on my goals and a lot of emotional awareness to keep tabs on my contentedness and make sure I am doing what I need to do to feel fulfilled. But let me tell you—no professional accomplishment, no academic achievement and no leadership position has ever even approached the depth of joy and fulfillment that I experience when I am fully engaged in my job as a wife and mother, working full-time in my home to care for, nurture and teach my family.