When I started this blog, I was in a messy and challenging transition from a full-time career as a Principal to a full-time stay-at-home-mom. I say it was messy, because as deeply rooted in the passion and purpose of my career, I felt distracted, disconnected, and numb to almost everything else. I simply existed and functioned and hard as I could in every area.
I spent the first year at home doing my best to play the part of what a good stay-at-home mom was supposed to look like. The title of mom was one I had always dreamed of holding, and as grateful as I was to have the opportunity to stay home, not holding a career title and purpose outside our home caused a major loss of identity and pride. I thought that walking away from my career would allow me to feel less like a boat with no harbor, and more like the sailboats with the tall mast and pressed while sails- shiny, confident and connected to my family, my purpose- and myself.
The adult me did not look or feel like what I thought she would.It was a tough pill to swallow as I slowly understood that trying to do it all in motherhood, marriage and career, and saying yes to what I thought everyone expected of me, left me feeling lonely for MYSELF. I longed to feel like the whole, anchored, living in my values, me.
Although I am clicking the fast-forward button on this story, and skipping-over some therapy sessions, many conversations with my supportive husband, family and friends, and a year or three of undoing the programming I repeated to myself about where my worth came from, I finally understood that wherever I went- I would always be a ship without a harbor- unless I learned how to create a safe, values-based, connected, make the most generous assumption, committed and disciplined harbor inside of me.
Thus began the journey, of understanding what it would look like to raise me.
I have spent the last two years talking to women (and my sweet husband) about what their harbors look like. About what makes them feel connected and rooted to their sources of joy and peace. We have shared what has brought them into the deepest, darkest, waters- as far away from themselves and their sources of love and joy, and how they have figured out how to turn the ship around and guide themselves back to safety. I have also learned that these conversations- these connections- have created a bigger classroom full of sharing and growing, than I ever knew existed. To stick with the sailing analogy- we have created our own beautiful sort of bay- full of people to help straighten the sails, give support about how to steer the boat, time to cheer on the ones that are shining, and help any captain understand they they aren’t alone when water starts seeping through a crack. This is the power of our community and our stories, and the beauty of learning to raise ourselves.
Through every conversation on my podcast, or comment that has spurred connection on the blog, I have realized that many of us feel most alone when we are finally shedding our shell and growing into ourselves. It’s the moment we realize that somewhere along the way we allowed other voices to matter more than our own. When we realize that the worth we gain from pleasing people is fleeting, and that living in service of others doesn’t have to mean abandoning our own needs, and that dreaming and passion and fun is not just reserved for other people- but also there for us.
Feeling lonely for ourselves happens when we forget that the “yes” and “no” answers we give about where we spend our time, our money, our energy, and effort, should be based on the values that honor who we have decided we want to be at our very core – and nothing else.
Being an adult has so little to do with knowing it all, and so much to do with understanding that the hardest job we have in front of us is that of raising ourselves. When we are young, there is a team of people that we feel are qualified to help raise us- parents, coaches, aunts and uncles, siblings, teachers, pastors- the list goes on. We hear their voices and their beliefs and their praise, and although our voice is in there- it’s a youthful one still finding it’s way. But when we get to be an adult, we get lost and lonely because we try to stand at a fixed point and say, “We’ve got it, now. All grown-up”- when that couldn’t be further from the truth.
But this is why I Love Raising Us. The gift of adulthood is to replace the voices in our head that took up so much space as children, with our own voice. We get to sort through the values and decide if they align with the picture of who we know we were created to be. We get to decide what influences will help us get closer to that person and replace those that don’t, with a stillness that is sometimes deafening, but necessary. It’s a stillness that makes room for us to dream of everything else we are capable of becoming.
As adults, we have the gift of choosing to root ourselves in the truth of who we are now- the good, the bad, and the ugly- and decide if we want to live the rest of our days as that person, or start making choices that reflect the person we would be so proud of standing next to, if we were raising them. Every single day we get to decide not only the version we present to the world, but make sure that the version we see is one we are also proud to present to ourselves.
Walking away from my career stripped away many of the things that I thought gave me value or worth. The irony was that I was totally miserable during the last year or two of that career, because I had convinced myself that looking outward for validation and affirmation of my worth, was more valuable than looking inside.
In the last five years of raising myself, I have realized that my mind needs to be my own safe harbor. It makes me chuckle a little sometimes when I want to throw the captain overboard. In those moments, the adult me reaches out to a small group of people that I trust to play a role that was similar to childhood, but this time I get to choose the influential voices that are ready and willing to help me climb out of the water and realign my sails. They are part of the team that will help me finish the never-ending job of raising myself. I would like to think I am part of their team, too.
This wild ride of trying to do ALL the things while growing through your own stuff is not a ride you are on alone. Just remember: your safest harbor will always exist in the values-based, non-negotiable, grace-filled, community supported, I was MADE for this moment- spot inside of you.
May we build safe harbors, be safe harbors for others, and remind ourselves to delight in the gift of raising ourselves.