The past month or so, I’ve been on an emotional rollercoaster with an unexpected 180 turn from contentment to anxiety, cresting to exhilaration and plunging back into despair, and bouncing around the emotional spectrum at breakneck speed.
This rollercoaster ride culminated in a long conversation with my husband last night as I brought up being torn between academia and motherhood. To be fair, neither are in the immediate future, but I know I want them both. I know a great many strong, capable women that have managed both at the same time – my mother, my professors, my friends – but I know my limits. I’m not strong enough to juggle both roles of a teacher/life-time student and mother at the same time without cracking.
I highly value David’s insight into me and what makes me tick or break. (That saying that you know someone better than they know themselves is oh-so-true in our marriage.)
I also know what I want, those big dreams I’ve carried for so long. I want to be a book editor. I want to travel the world. I want to own a restaurant. I want to publish a book. I want to be a mother. I want to be out of debt. I want to plan weddings. I want to…do it all.
And this is where my limitations conflict with my dreams. I could try to do all those things (because I know people who have and who tell me I can), and I would fail miserably.
So we talked it out. I expressed what I felt and how I couldn’t reconcile all these dreams together. He helped me realize that an online degree wouldn’t fulfill my need for academic exploration, and that I wasn’t really cut out for a tenure-track professorship career either. Talking about our future helped me to realize which of those dreams others were suggesting to me and which dreams I really wanted for me.
And then, being the planner that I am, we had to address how we were going to get from Point A to those dreams.
We didn’t plan down to the last detail. I didn’t write any of it down. It’s not a strict 10-year plan. But we did address some issues including my feelings of being all over the place and I feel more at peace about our lives.
I’ve been able to look back at the path I’ve been on for years and point out all the things that I felt but had not spoken, and once I laid them out, they weren’t so scary any more. In fact, we were able to agree on a few major milestones and laugh at the sillier suggestions.
The future feels less like a rollercoaster and more like an Indiana roadtrip – mostly flat with a few interesting things along the way with really good company and a lot of laughs.
And for today, that’s enough.
There’s a lesson I learned in college and it can be distilled to this: I can make plans, but it is God who decides what happens in my life. I can rest in having a direction and an idea of what I want in life, but I also need to be ready for God to change my plans into his (infinitely better) plans for our lives. And that is where I am once again – heading in a specific, concrete direction while I wait for God to direct our future.