National Quemoy University, Kinmen Island, Taiwan
It is my birthday and I have only fully realized it because I wrote out the date just now. I am 32 years old and the past two weeks have been some of the most eye opening to my life that I've ever had. I am realizing that I am exactly what I never thought I would be – a successful, childless workaholic. I know I constantly worry about not doing something with my life and about having to give up my interests to have kids. But it has literally never crossed my mind what my life looks like to the outside world until this month.
It started during a phone conversation with my mom. She asked me if we were trying to get pregnant and I was floored. I assumed that would just be obvious to everyone since I am turning 32. Even my mom didn't think it was an obvious thing.
Then I actually heard myself speaking in some of my conversations with people – I was preparing to travel internationally for my job while also finishing up my school semester while considering applying to Harvard while publishing a paper while joining staff at a church. While living in the third most expensive city in the United States. I've been so focused on figuring out how to not lose my goals that I have been totally blind to my success in them and again, how I must look to the people around me. I have been addicted to success and work. I also have been legitimately trying to figure out how I am supposed to use my gifts and talents.
Right now I have a choice before me – I cannot use all of my gifts and talents to their full extent without burning myself out. I cannot have a family while using all of my gifts and talents. So which ones will I use? I am 32 years old, have been working like a mad woman for four years, and am burnt out. It is time that I get my shit in order and stop trying to do it all and instead focus on how to live while using the gifts I care about the most and have the most peace about.
I grew up hearing yuppies referred to in only negative terms. Good Christians had children early and valued their families more than anything else. I have had no paradigm for seeing myself as a thirty-something, successful urbanite because I was trying very very hard to not be selfish in my decisions and I grew up thinking that yuppies were simply the result of selfish, immature motivations. I constantly heard yuppies referred to as the result of never being willing to grow up and be an adult, and I have tried very hard to work against that.
And yet, here I am. The very definition of a childless thirty-something-year-old woman who is doing well in her work. I am more the product of my society than I could ever have imagined myself being. I couldn't have imagined it because I never thought I valued the things yuppies value. But I do. And I do not think it is evil. I think it is cultural. And a result of trying really hard to use what's been given to me for God’s glory.
I don't even know what I am trying to say with all of this other than I just am at this totally bizarre place in life in which I both know where I want to go and believe I have the talents to do it (if I let go of certain other things that I've held on to), and I can completely recognize that I am not the person I thought I was. In other words, I feel like I am waking up to who I am and I am becoming more aware of my abilities. I guess what's really going on is that my vision is focusing. So much of the excess work, of the excess baggage, of the excess stress needs to fall away. I don't need to stay in this whirlpool. I know what I want - my husband, my children, to teach and write, and community ministry. The rest has to go. And that can be the value of finding myself where I am at 32 – the focus that I haven't been able to find until this point.
(Image by Nicolette Tomas.)
At Home, Arlington, Massachusetts
“The opposite of the ‘One Child Policy’ is not the ‘Two Child Policy,’ but ‘Free to Birth.’ When I think about it more deeply, we are no more better than our parents when celebrating the replacement of the ‘one child policy’ with the ‘Two Child Policy.’ We may not be affected by the national policy, we may have more choice to deal with it (many of our friends went abroad to bear their second child), but we are deeply affected by the values of the world — parenthood should not degrade my living standards, my financial standards, or my standards of freedom — because we are still afraid of losing comfort, pleasure, or something that gives us identity. We are still making the choice in the fear.”
I'm editing J.’s blog post for the CP on China's switch to the two-child policy and am incredibly convicted. He basically just tells stories from life about the policy, but he ends by discussing the way Chinese don't care about it anymore because no one wants to have kids anyways. His words above are as equally applicable to me in the West as they are to the Chinese.
Lord, forgive me. I am making my decisions out of fear. I am no better. I am afraid of giving up my comfort, my financial security, my time, my independence. But parenthood isn't a degradation of these things and we shouldn't see it that way. I shouldn't see it that way. Please God, forgive me, and change my heart. Help me to see the beauty there is in your world, in the way you made me, in parenthood. Please help me to be more compelled by your design and your definitions of beauty than those which the world tells me are beautiful. Amen.
At Home, Arlington, Massachusetts
I wrote the following for my Jonathan Edwards class and I want to remember it here.
“‘Being sensible that I am unable to do anything without God’s help, I do humbly entreat him by his grace to enable me to keep these resolutions, so far as they are agreeable to his will, for Christ’s sake.’ With these words from Jonathan Edwards as a reminder of my complete dependence on Christ to attain not only my salvation, but also sanctification, I list here a set of twenty-five resolutions. May these resolutions work for my spiritual benefit, and may I avoid creating a law unto myself; for the law ultimately can do no good for my eternal state, apart from the power of the Holy Spirit in me to regenerate and renew my will to live for Christ.
About the Project
This is a very personal project. It tracks my growth and development as I journeyed toward motherhood over the recent years. It doesn't document every experience I had, and probably neglects my more joyful and peaceful moments in the frenzy of trying to communicate my fears, anxieties, and doubts. If you are a friend or loved one, please do not let anything you read here overshadow what you know of me personally. If you are a stranger, please remember that a living and flawed person stands behind these words. To all my guests here, please understand these are not political statements and try to extend me grace, even as I share my failures and foibles - I have repented of much of what I share. I don't share this journal as an exemplar, but rather out of the desire to share my hope that entrance to motherhood does not need to be a fearful thing - despite the very real fears I have fought against. Motherhood is simply a part of life and one through which I am discovering more of myself and my God.