Sunday, March 25, 2012

why hello again

I've been too busy living lately to update my blog.  Like most of the country, we've had unseasonably warm weather, which means we've been spending a lot of time outside just living (well, that was last week--this week I graded midterm projects like a crazy woman and the kids were sick).

One of the things I've been working on off and on is an essay on what LDS feminism means in my life (thanks to an old friend at BYU who contacted me about being part of this project). My essay has veered so far from this; I've ended up talking a lot about how I went from being very focused on my own success to learning to find joy and fulfillment as a mother.  One of the things I realized in the process of writing this (which is good because I don't know if the essay will be published at this point, because it's so far off the prompt) is this:

There has been no transcendent realization for me, no moment when I learned how to reconcile my divergent desires and yearnings.  Some days are good and some are not; sometimes my heart swells with gratitude for this perfect little family, and sometimes I dissolve into tears and leave the dinner table.  It has been a gradual process for me to make it this far; to be able to introduce myself as a mother of four children without immediately adding that I have a graduate degree and I still teach.  I have no wisdom to offer other than my own experience, hard-won and painful as it is.  My children are, quite simply, the delight of my life.  They are my greatest source of worry and stress as well, but they are my delight.  As I kiss my baby’s fat cheeks and hear his delighted, “Mamamama!” or tuck in my three-year-old and accede to his imperious demands to “Tiss me, Mama!” or cuddle up with my five-year-old who gently rubs her cheek against my shoulder as I read to her, or sit cross-legged on the floor across from my seven-year-old as she confesses to some minor peccadillo—this, right here, for me, is happiness.  This is when I feel that great upswelling in my chest, that explosion of love and warmth and divine assurance that carries me onward.  Seeking out these moments, then, and making a deliberate effort to create not only the moments but the kind of mothering life that I have told myself is enriching, productive, and worthwhile—perhaps this is as close to transcendence as I will come.  

As I've been writing this essay, I've become aware of how often I deliberately seek out and try to create these moments, and how important it is (so simple, but sometimes so hard) for me to "show up" to mothering.  So this post is done with words; the rest of this is images from the past couple of weeks when I just felt like my heart was going to explode with love (and yes, we have spent a ton of time in the woods this week, because that is the quickest shortcut for me to feel like we are having this wonderful time as a family!  Watching the children run down the path or stop to ask me about a certain leaf or tree or pointing out a squirrel--for some reason that just makes me feel like we are creating wonderfulness).


Elise said...

i am so so so so happy you have finally updated! while i'm glad that you were having such a great time being busy that you didn't have time to update, i am so glad that you did. i have been waiting for it. thank you!

Jamie said...

It's so perfect, Rachael. It is. I promise. Excellent snippet, by the way. You ARE defining what feminism is to you, and that's exactly what we're after—to let women choose and be satisfied with their choices of how they feel fulfilled. Really excellent.

Anonymous said...

I think it is healthy for the many, many other women who are trying to reconcile the different feelings they feel about motherhood, womanhood and life.

I am profoundly grateful for the women in my life (mother, wife and daughters to name a few) who have the intellectual capacity to be and do anything and choose to be mothers.

I also think you have really cute kids.


Anonymous said...

Wonderful post and pictures! You are a wonderful writer and an inspiration to others. Being out in nature is always a great way to enjoy life with your family.
Aunt Pam

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