There has been something hinky in the water/air/blood/moon this past week.
People close to me are feeling overwhelmingly emotional, unsure, and questioning. There has been soul-searching, quests for meaning, vigorous headslapping over the pointless “Grass is Always Greener” mentality. I have heard stories of people feeling fundamentally unfulfilled once they become a parent. I’ve heard stories of beautiful, intelligent people dying in their 60s, having raised wonderful capable kids, but having forgotten about themselves. We encourage our kids that they can do anything, that they are capable of doing whatever makes their hearts sing, but do we live that? We sacrifice a little piece of ourselves when we parent, but we don’t need to crucify ourselves onto martyrdom.
I explored this recently in my own heart. My urge to be creative sometimes supersedes my role as a mum and that brings with it guilt—inner torment if I’m going to get all dramatic about it (and trust me, I’ve been dramatic about it). With all of that comes the practicalities of making a living, the painful and unfair comparisons with people who are childless and doing it—making their mark on the world with (what we believe is) envious freedom. It’s enough to drive someone to tantrum. Oh wait, done that too.
It’s about a Legacy. What is your Legacy going to be? Once you become a parent, you don’t get to relinquish all those dreams or the urge to be immortal in some way. It’s mentally and physically tougher to find the time to do it, but it’s do-able. Some days I wake up feeling melancholy about getting older, about the burden of motherhood, about not having enough time to splatter my Legacy all over the World. But I get up, suck it up (sometimes unwillingly, sometimes with tears), and continue my writing. Is my writing going to change the world? Maybe not, but if it comes from an honest and entertaining place, there’s no reason why it can’t. Your Legacy doesn’t need to be creative—it can be philanthropic, it can be changing the world in little, but significant, ways—moving people, making people feel something and making yourself feel all of it.
At the end of the day, if we’re not feeling something, we’re dead. And no-one wants to be a zombie*.
*Unless it gets you a gig as an extra in The Walking Dead. That would be the only caveat.