In my bathroom sits a small plaque that reads: Do what makes your heart sing.
Many things in this world make my heart happy, but as for the things in life that make my heart sing? This list is a bit different, and at the very top rests two of my greatest loves which are being a mom and being a writer.
When I became a mom, I entered into an ongoing struggle of figuring out how to pursue both of these loves. As a result, my heart began to feel increasingly divided.
In my own wisdom I concluded that my writing would have to wait for another place and time. I was certain that to pour any part of myself into anything other than my children would rob them of something they needed, would rob them of me.
On May 12, 2012, less than a week after Mother’s Day, I sat on the floor of my room, hurting and confused. The chasm in my heart had become unbearable. So badly I wanted for both my loves to live and grow wild. So badly I wanted to be a good mom, to give my children everything I possibly could. So badly I wanted to write, to lock myself in a room for a week and pour out across the page.
“God,” I cried. “Is it time to give up on being a writer? You’re the one that created me this way. That gave me a heart for both of these things. How in the world do I do both, successfully, without screwing something (my children) up?”
“Jennifer,” He said. “You don’t have to choose.”
“I don’t?” I asked as something in my heart began to shift, as divided parts began to move.
What God said next changed everything. “No, you don’t. When you write you are not stealing something from your children. Instead, you are making yourself better for them. I have created you to be a mother, and I have also created you to write. If you will but follow me and keep me at the center of both pieces of your heart, your heart for mothering will enhance your writing and your writing will enhance your mother’s heart. The two will go hand in hand to make you complete.”
My writing group met tonight, and as I rushed to put groceries away and dinner on the table, (two things that do not make my heart sing), I found myself thinking, I can’t wait to GET. OUT. OF. HERE!
As soon as this thought crossed my mind a feeling of guilt tugged at my heart, and the sly voice of Satan began to whisper.
“What kind of mother thinks such thing? You mean you’d rather be out with your writing friends than here with your two little girls? Look at you, anxious to get away. What kind of mother are you?”
I’m learning that all mothers at some time or another feel just that way. I’m not alone, or awful, or crazy. I’m human, normal, and in need of a chance for my heart to take a deep breath and find a way to resume its song.
In the car on the way to writing group I thought about that day last spring when God met me in my heart and showed me the way, His way, and bonded the divided parts of my heart together.
I’m still learning, but I know enough of His truth to know that it’s okay to pursue both my love for my family and my love for writing. In fact, it’s not just okay; it’s good and needed. When the guilt clings and Satan whispers, I remember what my heart is for, I remember my girls, my writing, and the call He has placed on my life.
The feeling I had tonight, just before leaving, that real-life mommy feeling of desperately wanting to get away from the stress and the frazzle of real-life mommy moments… could it be that this feeling wasn’t pinpoint proof that I’m an awful mommy but rather a sign that my heart is gasping for breath? That my heart needs to find it’s song once again, not by being mommy, not by being a writer, but by being whole.
When I got home from writing group my girls piled on me, happy to have me home. We exchanged hugs and kisses and giggled at being together again. As I carried them to bed and tucked them in tight, I felt something swelling inside. It wasn’t desperation. It wasn’t guilt. It was the curl-your-toes, this-is-the- good-stuff feel of a song inside my heart.