Family Pictures, June 2009 (go here, for updated pictures of the whole family)
Sometimes I feel so old.
I grew up at the end of a long line of siblings. As such, my brothers & sisters have always been a decade or so ahead of me.
Just to put things in perspective, I’ve been an aunt since I was 7 years old. I spent my childhood surrounded by the elderly. Both sets of grandparents were in their 80’s, & there were strokes, congestive heart failure, Parkinson’s on both sides of my family. My mom is also at the tail end of a big family, so all of my aunts & uncle also have always been older than what might be considered the norm. Add this to the fact that I’m not quite 30 & I’ve been married for 8 years & have four children.
Getting married & having children & taking those responsibilities seriously, is a sure-fire way to grow up.
I watch shows like “The Mindy Project” (which, I love Mindy Kaling, for the record) & others, where the characters are in their mid-thirties & are still dating around & dealing with things I feel like I left behind in high school, or at the very least, college. I find it amusing, a bit baffling, since I feel so much older than these people, yet I’m younger than many of them.
Ashlae, of OhLadyCakes (one of my favorite blogs–the photography, writing, & recipes are always stellar), got me thinking with this post, this morning. She shares some of her reservations about settling down (it “scares the $#!* out of [her]”), & how instead, she’d love to travel the world.
Oh boy, oh boy.
This got me thinking. Before I got married, I had lists, detailed & lengthy, that laid out: “What I’m going to do with my life.” Marriage & family certainly were in there somewhere (I’m Mormon, after all), but I was going to travel! Get my master’s degree. Teach English to inner-city kids. Save enough money to travel the world for a year. Join the Peace Corps. (I know, this is getting really cliche.) But point is, I had other plans for my life, than what has actually transpired.
And you know what?
I’ve found that my desires & what I “am supposed to do” don’t have to be mutually exclusive. You can have a family and follow your (other) dreams. I’ve found the sacrifice of family life is what makes my other dreams worthwhile.
Motherhood ain’t easy. (If you’re a mom, you already know this.)
Creating a family is not easy & it does require quite a bit of sacrifice. But it’s not sacrifice just for the sake of sacrifice. It’s sacrifice for something better.
One of the reasons why I love the show Parenthood (I’m only on season 3), is despite the hardness of family life, that show always brings home the message: it’s all about family. Yes, there are fights. There are really, really challenging things, inconveniences & annoyances. But in the end, it’s the only thing that really matters. Those relationships.
I responded to Ashlae’s post with this comment:
When I was in college I think your dream of traveling the world really resonated with me. I certainly hadn’t envisioned that I’d have a lot of children so young, but everything has unfolded in a beautiful, happy way for my husband & I. I think that “settling down” has become terribly stigmatized, as if it’s a prison sentence, but I’ve found it to be quite the contrary. I’ve never experienced, or rather never knew I’d experience the high-high’s (& with it the low-lows) as I have as a mother. It’s life–raw, real, & I love it. It challenges & pushes me like nothing else I’ve ever experienced.
What do you think? Can a person “settle down” & still find happiness, pursue personal goals & pursuits?