* yes, there should be FIVE sets of boots but Allen ignored my advice to get adequate rain gear...

Monday, April 22, 2013

The Essential Self

Sorry.  I am again veering wildly away from the stated purpose of this blog.  In fact, I'm heading rather in the opposite direction.  What happens when the only non-original MacKenzie doesn't go adventuring.  The thing is that I have an awful lot of time to just think while we're in Ireland.  The children are old enough and social enough that they all enjoy time with friends at school.  So, I have a few mornings, most weeks, when I'm alone (something once inconceivable).  I also spend rather a lot of time walking hither and yon.  So, a lot of time for quiet meditation while I walk and clean and scrub and gather.  This of course, leaves the twin questions of why, exactly, the steps are such a disaster (a: I seriously feel a piece of my soul die every time I try to vacuum those steps with the highly unenthusiastic canister vac/satan's minion) and why I manage to post so infrequently (a: you just can't force genius, obvs- I joke!)
Charlie 20 months
I also have rather a lot of time for reading and not a ton of social outlets so I wind up reading rather a lot of blogs.  I noticed something of a trend the last couple of weeks.  Jenny and Stephanie both talk about how difficult it is to figure out a sense of identity within the confines of mothering very young children (after a fashion).  I distinctly remember that struggle and I'm only now really figuring out what it was all about and how I managed to resolve it.  I'm not sure it would help anyone else but perhaps...

It comes down to the "busy" thing.  For a long while we are identified relative to other people.  We are our parent's children and our spouse's wives.  We are a member of this team, that band, this high school, or that college.  We work within this organization.  Over time we might be identified by slightly more individual choices, traits or strengths.  We go to that church; we teach this subject; we bake this cookie; we are terrible at miniature golf.
Megan 1 week
When you become a mother, you are suddenly shifted to the place of identifier.  Suddenly, someone is identified relative to you.  Consciously or unconsciously, this is really stressful.  You are suddenly confronted with a need to identify yourself that allows you to be the nucleus of the equation.  Yes, it is sort of enough to simply be identified as "mommy" but that's still pretty broad.

Things get really sticky if you quit your job although I get the general impression that this is an issue for everyone who makes the transition to mother.

You have abruptly lost a fair number of identifiers you had gotten pretty comfortable with.  You no longer have a job title or company; your figure is completely different (you can be happy with it but it will never be the same.  Seriously, step away from the watermelon diet); you are far too sleepy and preoccupied to do any of those hobbies and such that acted as ancillary identifiers.  In short, you have no idea who you are.
Megan 2 years
This isn't an issue for a while (see aforementioned sleep deprivation).  Then comes the "busy" stage.  Instead of soul searching (and, really, I can't blame myself- I was sooo impossibly tired), you again fall upon the external.  You will be a champion housekeeper- people will marvel at your clean floors.  You enroll your children in toddler art and music and baby gym.  You will join EVERYTHING.  You will volunteer.  You will have THE happiest baby on the block.  You will be a martyr.  You will co-opt an identity if it kills you.  You are no longer simply "mommy."  You are That Mom- the one who manages to do it all and still looks fabulous.  And then you finally notice that this doesn't seem to be the point.  You have plenty of self identifiers but you aren't so much comfortable in that soul deep way.
Noah 1 week
I read an interesting blog post.  The where now completely escapes me and I don't think is accurate in all cases but held a very true bit.  The basic idea was that no one is quite as zen as a mother of more than about 6 children.  This is a mother who has given over.  A mother of 6 has a very keen understanding of the BIG stuff v. everything else.  This is a mother who has internalized the very true mantra of "to everything there is a season."  This is a mother who no longer has to manufacture "busy" but instead is vitally needed as the anchor, centered and intentional who knows how to not be lost in the wild rumpus of life- lots of life.

I am highly unlikely to have 6 children.  Allen has quite strong opinions on the matter.  I have a bit more in the way of options for self identity than that mother of 6.  I could re-busy.  My children could happily swirl about the mother who is identified by the external.  But, I'd rather grow.
Megan 1 week
The thing about being a stay at home mom (at least in my experience) which no one ever mentions is that it forces you to figure out

who you are

When you are dropped into the middle of a foreign country with nothing but time you have no option but to abandon the busy.  I think I would have gotten to the same point eventually but Ireland really accelerated the process.  So, let me share with you, the stay at home mom trying to figure why you are so very busy but still feel so very lost, the busy will never identify you.

  Let go of the busy.  

It's scary but you can do it and you will be stronger for it.  Then you have the delightful option to do because you want to not because you simply must.  Life with littles is loud and hectic and this will take time but it will come and in that moment you have while you're rocking the baby or patting the restless toddler or stirring the mac-n-cheese, think about not what you would rather be doing but instead what you are.  Listen to that small, quiet voice of your soul.  You might not like all the answers but at least you'll know where things stand; strengthen what you like and try to soften what you don't.

I don't have a job title; I'm not a perfect housekeeper; my children are quirky; I bake a mean cookie but that really doesn't serve as complete self identity.  Instead...
Noah 2 months
I am strong willed.  I am compassionate.  I am impatient.  I excel at creating a home but will always be a "good enough" housekeeper.  I will overcome most any adversity and I can adapt but I am aware there is always a price.  I strive to be a light rather than an abyss.  I will always have a squishy tummy.  I would rather have a friendly face than a pretty one.  I stand for something because I have learned that to not is to lose yourself but I struggle with confrontation.  I do not fit in a box.  I am rarely what is expected.


  1. This is so well said...and I love that you are taking your "Blog" here because I enjoy your writing. I have been thinking a lot about the anchor, I'm glad you mentioned it. The pictures are beautiful. Thank you for being so REAL Becky :) God bless

    1. Thank you so much. I actually think I like where your story is going even more. The only think better than finding your center within who you are is finding your center within what Christ knows you can become. Sometimes I really wish I wasn't a Methodist. That daily Mass sounds like it could be pretty helpful.