The Writing Mamas Daily Blog

Each day on the Writing Mamas Daily Blog, a different member will write about mothering.

If you're a mom then you've said these words, you've made these observations and you've lived these situations - 24/7.

And for that, you are a goddess.

Monday, August 18, 2008


How One Mother Found Her True Vocation -- and Love

Three years after the birth of my daughter, I began to wonder if one could actually die of boredom.   How many times can you sing, “The Wheels on the Bus” before your eyes glaze over and you start to fall into a comatose state? 

Before my daughter was born, I made the conscious decision to be a stay-at-home mom.  My mother had done it, her mother had done it and I decided to follow in their footsteps.  I planned to experience every milestone of my daughter’s childhood, from her first word to her first day of school.  And since I no longer brought in a paycheck, I figured I should be the perfect wife, too.   We joined playgroups, went to music class, and spent afternoons at the park with friends. The baby was bathed, dressed for bed and dinner was always ready when my husband got home from work.  

I had become June Cleaver. 

Around my daughter’s third birthday something shifted and I began asking myself,“Who the hell are you?”  I was no longer the woman who sang Aretha Franklin’s “Respect” in the shower at the top of her lungs or the woman who had once dreamed of working for the United Nations.  In those three years I had become exhausted, forty pounds heavier and, I’m sure, bitchy -- if you asked my husband.  I had become one of those women who forget that there is more to life than being a wife and mother.  I had forgotten about the things that made me an individual.  Peg Bundy was starting to sound like the perfect role model.  I sat and wallowed in my self-pity with a box of cookies. 

I finally got my act together after my daughter was diagnosed with asthma.  She missed two weeks of preschool and we had plenty of bonding time.  One day she asked me with the brutal honesty of a three-year-old, “Why don’t you go to work like Daddy?  If you do, then Daddy could stay home with me and I would have fun.” 

That pretty much said it all.

It was time for me to go back to work, but there wasn’t really a career to go back to.  I had worked for the federal government most of my adult life and had no intention of returning to that.   It was then I realized that what was missing had never really been there.   I had never had a career that made me hop out of bed every morning with a spring to my step as I headed out the door to work that fulfilled me as a person.  

At the age of 40, I decided to find one.

My husband, being the supportive man that he is, told me to go forth and create my dream career.   We weren’t starving on one paycheck, so I was free to imagine the possibilities. 

I knew what kinds of things I felt passionate about, but I just had never found a way to create a life around them. I decided to take a class on career and life transition being offered at a local high school and for the next three weeks, I pondered what to do.  My old Myers Brigg results showed me a list of plenty of careers that were supposed to be a good fit for my personality type.  I also needed to consider how this newly found career would affect my family.  One thing became clear almost immediately: having a child and a career could definitely get complicated when you have to work around asthma attacks, early-dismissal Wednesdays and summer vacation. 

In one month, I looked at every career that was on my list.  I thought about becoming a nurse, until I decided feeling queasy at the sight of blood would make me pretty useless.  Psychologist was an option, but I thought it would depress me to listen to other people’s problems all day and then come home to a tantrum-throwing three-year-old.  I finally looked at the career I had always wanted to do, but was afraid to actually try:  writer.

For as long as I can remember -- I’ve wanted to write.  I went to journalism school to pursue my dream of seeing my name in print, but I got sidetracked by marriage and motherhood.   I thought, “Why not?”  I’ll never know if I’m any good at it until I really try.  I loved everything about writing, from seeing an image that inspires me, to making a jumble of words come alive on paper.   What I especially loved was being able to work in the early hours of the morning with just me for company.  It was the perfect career for me.  I’d made my decision, so now what?  I had a half-finished book that I had started years ago.  I pulled it out, read it and thought, “Not too bad.”  I gave myself the pep talk and said, “Karen, you wrote this and you can finish it.” 

I still have days when I whine about being a stay-at-home mom, but then I remind myself that I have a new title: writer.  The simple act of reclaiming that part of my life has forever changed me.  I am now in a much happier place and so is my family.  My husband is again seeing the woman he married and I hope my daughter sees a woman she can call role model as she takes her own life journey. I now get up at five-thirty in the morning full of energy after losing those forty pounds and write my heart out.  True, some days it might be that book I’m working on while other days it’s my grocery list, but at least I’m writing. 

By Karen Mixon-Martin

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