Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Rediscovering Myself

I'm sorry these photos are so small. I scanned then onto IPhoto and rotated them but couldn't get them any bigger. Any suggestions? Help!

I started reading this book, When Organizing Isn't Enough-Shed Your Stuff, Change Your Life, by Julie Morgenstern, and I think it's going to be the icing on the cake for me. I've been through so many mental and emotional upheavals these last few years. I think this book will help me to finally move on with my life.

Ms. Morgenstern suggests that you pick a theme for the next phase in your life and let that propel you forward. Mine is going to be "Rediscovery and Exploration". She asks, "What lost parts of yourself can you rediscover through your memorabilia?"

You get so busy taking care of others and doing whatever is required in the smooth running of your household that you can lose sight of the person you are down deep; the REAL you that makes you unique. It helps to find that person again by looking at old photos, newspaper clippings, and saved treasures from your childhood.

I got out my two photo albums from my childhood and went through them with a discerning eye, and this is what I noticed. Two things stuck out more than others. One is that as a small child, there were lots of baby dolls in the pictures. I always had a new one each year at my birthday, and there were several in which I was playing with them. I have never considered myself maternal until I started having my own children. But looking back at these photos I realize that I spent a lot of time playing mommy. I'm angry right now, and I'll have to explain why.

When I was nine or ten, I went to summer camp for a week. It was a Bible camp in Dayton, Tennessee. We had this Bible memorization in school (imagine that!) where if we memorized a certain number of verses we got to go to camp for free.

A woman missionary was there speaking to us about her work in Ghana. She was going to show us how the women there carried their children on their backs. She said, "Let me pick out a girl that looks motherly." She didn't pick me. Right then and there I labeled myself "NOT MOTHERLY". I figured it was obvious to all that I wasn't the motherly type. I remember feeling shame that I wasn't picked. Isn't it strange how children do this to themselves?

So for the next fifteen years I pushed all thoughts of someday having children out of my mind. I wanted to get married but didn't want children. Gayle and I never once talked about having children until right before Laurel came into existence. Strange!

But now looking back at my old pictures, I realize that I was maternal at a very early age! I feel a new sense of finding my true self that's been buried for forty-three years! You would think that after five children and four grandchildren I would feel maternal enough. But now I'm Mother Earth! It's very freeing to put a demon to rest. I feel a future post lurking in the background; about how we cripple children by unconsciously labeling them. Of course, I mostly did that one to myself. I'm sure that if I could meet that missionary now and tell her what she helped destroy in me, she would be mortified.

To get back to the main theme of discovering myself in my memorabilia, I also noticed that from middle school on, I had designed all of my party dresses. I've always loved describing exactly what I wanted a dress to look like and having Mama make it for me.

I'm always describing to Laurel how I want to dress while I'm at home working. I love retro clothes with a bit of funk added for surprise. I've also come to learn that I have a very theatrical nature. Not that I like being on the stage; I HATE BEING UP IN FRONT OF PEOPLE! I like for everyday life to be quiet, yet I want to FEEL every minute I live with great intensity.

So my new theme for life is: REDISCOVERY AND EXPLORATION.

So how will this hopefully affect my present life? Well, I think I'm maternal enough! But I do want to stop talking about how I want my clothes to look and start designing and sewing again and try to get some retro everyday clothes made so I'll be the cutest grandma ever!


Melissa said...

First, Julie Morgenstern is fantastic...her organization books are the best out there!! Second, I could not agree with you more about being extremely careful to not label our children...

Katy said...

I can't believe you didn't think you were mother material! And you are already the cutest grandma ever!

Laura A said...

Funny how we take these comments to heart, isn't it? I remember a similar comment about singing, and one about how my sister was so pretty! I think one reason these comments have such power is that little girls take the opinion of older women they admire so seriously. And they don't always know how to tell us what's bothering them.

Do you suppose that suppressing the maternal may also have had something to do with the propaganda of our generation? I remember that in college, no one admitted that they wanted to be a say-at-home mom, and certainly no professor or advisor acknowledged that it was an option! That conspiracy of silence, over a girl's whole youth, can have a big cumulative effect.

Sounds like you are having a refreshing time of re-evaluation.

carter0531 said...

In high school I went to a summer missions camp, and the leader said that he'd be observing what our strongest spiritual gift was over the course of the camp. At the end, he told each person individually which he thought was their strongest, and I noticed that he hadn't talked to me... and time was running out... So I asked him about it, and he said that he couldn't come up with anything for me!!! I was devastated. I still feel like a loser.

debbie bailey said...

Melissa, this book SHED Your Stuff is so good! Thanks, Katy! Laura, I think you're right about our generation. Luckily for me, I had great role models in my family. Jessica, that's so sad! And you're definitely not a loser. That leader should be horsewhipped! I'm reminded about how fragile girls are, so I'm going to make sure I don't "damage" Darcie through what I say.