Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Goals and Ambitions

Somehow I seem to have forgotten who I am. Not forgotton in the sense that I don't remember facts but in that I don't frequently take the time to think about it. For several years now I have been someone's wife, someone's mother, someone's daughter, someone's granddaughter, someone's tenant, someone's 4-H leader... you get the idea. This is the manner in which I've been thinking of myself.

Another trap I've fallen into is defining myself by what I used to be: used to be a Loucks, used to be slender, used to be a good student, used to be a champion showman of sheep and rabbits, used to be a good hand with a horse, used to read everything not nailed down or splattered with bodily fluids I can't identify (either the fluid or what it came from).

I have set very few quatifiable goals the past few years. The few I set have been of the housecleaning sort and that is never a good way to define success. Laundry and dishes are a many headed Hydra. Just when they are all caught up, like the Hydra of legend, six new loads come into being where before, you would swear, there was just one.

Staying home with my children is important to me. Raising young children does not provide the opportunity for quantifiable analysis of your task. Sure, if they don't grow up to be serial killers and hold down employment, if they're not addicted to mind altering substances and don't abuse their families or dogs... you can consider yourself to have done an adequate job. If you've done a good job they will be productive, contributing members of society. They will raise another generation of children who will grow up to be productive, contributing members of society. My point is that our goals tend to be rather broad and hard to evaluate when it comes to childrearing.

I am a firefighter. All day, every day I put out small conflagurations. I cook. I clean. I kiss boo-boos. I hold hands. I read stories. I mediate disputes. I scoop puppy poop. The day to day minutia of our existence consumes about 25 hours of my day.

Being a student was great. I had a set number of classes per semester. My goal was to get an A (or C if we're talking math and chemistry). Career goals are always fun too. Parts of them are very quantifiable; money, hours, benifits (some not quantifiable like enjoyable work environment), location.

Being a mother/wife/daughter/granddaughter is more ambiguous. The ripples from the pebbles I throw today may not reach the edge of the pond in my lifetime. How do you evaluate that? What should my career goals be now? Is potty training a goal for me? Or for Sam? Does it count as my success once he's mastered it? Am I successful today because the four of us (three boys and me) survived the fair without losing more than a sippy cup? Did I miss my goal of teaching good nutrition by feeding them ice cream for lunch and pizza snacks out of the freezer (thawed, but not warm) for dinner? Did Chris helping himself to a snack out of the refigerator made of corn tortillas and spinach make that a goal attained despite the pizza snacks?

1 comment:

Mrs. B. Roth said...

For those of us who used to define our success in terms of grades, paychecks, etc., becoming a mom forces us to completely reevaluate our definition. Like you said, housework is a neverending task; the results of mothering take decades before we can be sure. Our country really does not acknowledge the tremendous contribution women make to society when we chose to put the needs of our family above our personal desires. For me, now, my goal is to enjoy the process. I can not judge my success or failure by the number of loads of laundry I complete or meals I actually cooked per week. It's gotta be how much fun me and my kids had doing the stuff that needs to be done every day, because I think (and hope and pray) great joy can be found in the simple routines of motherhood.

Jake camping in the living room

Jake camping in the living room