the strive


I’m in one of those yearning seasons lately. Wanting to see the more in life through the 1:00am nursing, the menu planning and the time-out battles.

I don’t have an office. I don’t have a team of project managers reporting to me. I don’t ‘take lunch’. Heck, I don’t even pee with the door closed. One out of two days of mine is spent entirely within a 1800 square foot house (well, that’s including the basement/laundry room where, let’s be honest, I don’t spend much time). And most of the day I am left with the sinking feeling that I am not ultimately in control of my own life. I am needed desperately by both of my boys, one of whom I literally sustain nutritionally (how’s that for project management?) and it’s often hard to tell where I end and my family begins.

Realizations like this tug at me from time to time. They make me want more. They make me strive and stir.

For example, there’s that one time that I printed off a half-marathon training schedule and went for it with abandon. And you know what? I completed it. Actually, I more than completed it. The schedule had me running 10 miles last Sunday. I ran 12 instead because I wanted to be sure I could finish this Saturday.

{because then maybe I will feel like I have really accomplished something?}

A few weeks ago Dan and I started reading a money management book. It has us pumped to live on a ridiculously tight budget and pay off our student loans as quickly as possible. We have realized that not having those loan payments means that we would be able to invest and give instead of using it to pay for yesterday. What an incredible feeling it will be to be debt free.

{because then maybe I will feel like I have really accomplished something?}

Together, Dan and I are working on a small business venture that we are both completely excited about. Our skills totally compliment each other and we have big, exciting plans for this little “baby” of ours to be successful. We sit and dream and plan and develop our passion. I can’t wait to see what big things become of this.

{because then maybe I will feel like I have really accomplished something?}

Why is it that none of these is ever enough? There will be more striving next year, I guarantee it. And undoubtedly the year after that. I’ll want to rearrange the living room or take up cake decorating or conquer some other area of life. more. more. more. more. more.

And why is it, that on days (like yesterday) when I throw my whole self into mothering – when we make the muffins and I let him stir despite my cleaner judgment, when we have a snuggle fest reading Where the Wild Things Are, when I tickle and chase and peek-a-boo and sing – on days when I drink it all in (‘it all’ being what I already have in front of me) I feel more satisfied than when I run 12 miles?

{because this is what it really feels like to accomplish something.}

31 Responses to “the strive”

  1. Melissa

    I am a long-ish time reader, first commenter, but I felt compelled to comment on this post. I have been struggling with this, with balance between my goals and my responsibilities to my son, between being part time outside-the-home employed & always mom. I am struck by how seemingly universal these feelings are – the balance between producing & mothering & the ability to recognize mothering is producing enough.

  2. BarbO

    I remember those days and to this day that is my greatest accomplishment. Raising kids that love the Lord. You said it well. I sit here with tears in my eyes remembering and so thankful for you and of course D and the kids. Love you.

  3. Kelly @ Love Well

    I think so much comes down to motivation. Learning new skills, embarking on new adventures, none of these things are wrong. They are exciting and creative and can use muscles God has given us.

    But when they become something we do because we have to assert our own importance (to make much of me), then it crosses the line. The key is knowing WHY you are doing what you are doing.

    I say this because that battle marked my 20s. It was hard.

  4. Jessica

    How I understand! I recently went from working full time to being a stay-at-home-wife in preparation for the arrival of our first child. Yesterday I practically picked a fight with my husband because he was going out with a friend of his, and while he had no way of knowing this, I hadn’t talked to a single person all day and felt lonely. I hope it gets better once the baby is here but of course that will just bring new stresses. It’s very different to go from working in an office and having many people depending on the work you do, to having only one or two people to appreciate the work you do – which is work that needs to be done!

    I did recently get the chance to have that feeling of accomplishment, and it was with my dog. I trained my dog to compete in a dog-sport called Rally, and we had our first ever trial (which I did while 35 weeks pregnant! – It’s just walking, no running) and we placed in both trials, something that’s very rare for a first timer. So you can imagine how proud I was.

    On days when I’m feeling like I’m not getting anything worthwhile accomplished or I feel useless as all I’m doing is “incubating” while my husband gets to do all the work on the house, I can remember that day and not only be proud of what I have done, but look forward to the fact that over the next few years, I’ll be getting to be proud of my son’s accomplishments, not just myself and the dog anymore.

  5. Heather of the EO

    I get it. I SO get it.

    I believe it’s okay to want and need both…it’s just that the perspective needs to be held that the mother part is ultimately enough. I mean, it begins and ends with them, these children I keep. If they were not here, THAT would not be enough. I would be so incomplete…much more-so than I am in not being able to do a whole lot of other ME things. And I believe that if I KNOW that and just simply make progress at living it, that is enough. If I can hold that perspective while I dream other dreams and reach other goals, I will remain in the most balanced mothering life possible. (Which is totally imbalanced, always…I just need to accept that.)

    You are lovely.

  6. Savannah

    How well you express my thoughts! Thanks!

    And something I have found EXTREMELY helpful in our budgeting life is the ynab (you need a budget) software. Check them out!

  7. Karey

    Yikes. This really hit me hard. And honestly? It kind of hurts.

    I stress about everything and try to get it all together (ha!) so that “then I’ll finally be able to relax knowing I have nothing to worry about” (financially, health-wise, time with my kids, supportive of my husband, etc. etc. etc.) but really, appreciating what we have right where we are now is what matters. Living for tomorrow’s accomplishments does nothing. Not for me, not for my kids, not for my husband. It only makes me feel worse about today.

    So thank you for the reminder to appreciate the now. The little things in the now. Because really, in the end, it’s the little things that are the big things. Right?

  8. molly

    This is a beautiful post, Allison. Can I tell you something? I work full-time. Hell, I’ve even gotten an award or two for my “accomplishments.” But my little secret is I could give to carrots about it. The things that mean most to me NEVER happen at my office.

    They always happen at home. My son saying please when he asks for milk. My toddler knowing all his shapes and being able to put them back into the puzzle. I am raising two kids and THEIR accomplishments are also mine.

    We all have the desire to do more, seek more, no matter if we work or stay home. We all have those dreams beyond picking food up off the floor or wiping faces. It is so good to dream. It is something that sets us apart. That drive to go above what we do on a daily basis. You’re human when you think you can DO more and it won’t ever make what you do at home less important.

    p.s. my husband and I joined Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University in September. It is literally changing our lives and I highly recommend it to anyone who wants to pay off debts.

  9. Cambria

    I struggle with this too. I have days when I look around my messy house and think “there is so much to do, but I don’t wanna” and then I feel disappointed in myself that I didn’t accomplish anything. And I’d feel depressed. Like, “is this it?”

    And then I’d get mad… I’ve been given a gift of two beautiful little people who I adore. Who cares if the entire day was spent making messes, reading, playing and not doing laundry. I should be happy with that. Most days I am.

    I have a part-time job that I LOVE. This has helped my psyche tremendously. I work from home most of the time, which allows me to be home with my kids. And as soon as I am done with work, we head to a park or a pool or a friends house to play.

    But I so hear what you are saying. I sometimes wonder if I am mourning my life before kids. Not that I would ever go back to things that way… NOT IN A SECOND. My whole world is my kids. But it wasn’t until recently, for the first time in three years, that I started saying “I need this one for me.”

    Good luck with your new business venture. And hang in there :)

  10. Annie

    Very excited to hear about the business venture you & Dan are working on. I feel like I’ve been struggling to get a balance since my son was a baby…more than 5 years ago.

  11. Korie

    I think if I didn’t live in Pennsylvania and you didn’t live in Minnesota, we’d be friends in real life. I can relate to so much of what you’re saying. I know every day that we made the right decision for me to resign from teaching to stay home with our first daughter (and now #2 on the way), however there are so many times when I struggle with the “What am I accomplishing” question. And even though I know in my deepest heart of hearts that I am accomplishing sowing into my children, it’s hard to see that in the ordinary every day drudgery that diapers, dishes, and laundry can be. Thanks for always sharing so honestly!

  12. justnotthatmom

    Oh love, I totally understand this and feel this way very often. Just know that you have accomplished a lot (more than many people do). I read your blog everyday and continuously am amazed at the great person you are and continue to be. :-)

  13. Sarah S

    I remember those days so clearly… the ones where it seemed nothing got done yet I was running the entire time. When my kids are little I yearned for more and now as a part time working mama and a part time at-home mama, I wish I had enjoyed those days more. I guess as they and I have gotten older, I have given myself the gift to time. The gift of feeling like today is enough.

    Mothering these little ones, helping my son learn to write, listening to my daughter read a book to me, making a meal plan my family will enjoy, planning our schedule so it doesn’t err on either the side of too busy or not busy enough…it all counts. When my kids grow up, they will remember that I was there. I know that now. Even the days I am at work, they will remember that I was present in their lives whether through a remembered library book left on their bed for school, or a clean house that they wake up to, or someone to lie in their bed in the evenings and read with them. They will remember and I will remember that I was there for their childhood. And their childhood is SO short. It gives me a great deal of peace to know this.

    Your babies will know that too. And as they get older you will have more time for yourself and your business ventures and all the other stuff you want. Certainly I’m not saying you can’t do that now, but as they get older it’s amazing how time opens up and space is created in your life for extra stuff.

  14. Kelly

    Your blog is a slice of heaven to me each time I read it. Not only are you an amazing writer (seriously, ever thought about writing professionally?) but you are so honest and aren’t afraid to be vulnerable which is really refreshing in this blogging world of ours. Anyway, I just wanted to let you know that I admire you for these qualities and for sharing so much of your life with us! Keep it up! All of it!

  15. Katie Steiner

    “How can it be a large career to tell other people’s children about the rule of three, and a small career to tell one’s own children about the universe? How can it be broad to be the same thing to everyone, and narrow to be everything to someone? No. A woman’s function is laborious, but because it is gigantic, not because it is minute. I will pity Mrs. Jones for the hugeness of her task; I will never pity her for its smallness.”

    G.K Chesterton

  16. Angie

    When I read this, I thought – “Stay hungry, Stay foolish”. I’ve been hearing an awful lot about Steve Jobs lately, so that’s what was on my mind.

    I don’t think that it applies to only the traditional working life, I think everyone, regardless of their calling, needs to make sure they are making the most of their time here on Earth. Whether that’s striving for a new business venture, making your career worth it (me!), or spending quality time you spend with your precious little ones, I think we NEED something to work towards.

    That’s why I love your blog. You motivate me, to be a better mom, wife, Christian. Keep it up, girl!

  17. Stephanie Hanes

    I love this post – because it is so true and you are so NOT alone in this. I’ve been working as a substitute teacher for a maternity leave (my first time working since my daughter was born three years ago) and, while I’m loving doing something I enjoy again, I’m realizing that being home with my kids and enjoying those little moments is really what makes me feel accomplished and satisfied. And, on a side note, I’m doing my first ever 5K in a few weeks!

  18. Sarah

    “When I think of God setting his purposes in motion before time began and those purposes including me, then I start to tap into something that sustains me. I am not raising my children simply to be responsible citizens when they turn eighteen and leave my house. I am raising them in light of God’s eternal kingdom purposes for both them and me. The tedious aspects of my life fade as i get a vision for God’s eternal plan playing out in my home. There is something going on here that transcends time and therefore gives meaning to this day, this week, this month, this year and this lifetime.”

    Wendy Alsup

  19. Jenny

    This really resonates with me. I work outside the home and have two little ones. I still struggle with finding my balance betweeen work, family and me time. “it’s often hard to tell where I end and my family begins.” – This is so true!

  20. Heather @ Creative Family Moments

    I feel the same way, when each morning I make myself cuddle with each child until they fully wake up. It’s hard because of the huge to-do list drumming in my mind, and knowing that once they are up we have to hustle to get everyone to school, but I know this time is precious… and besides that, wouldn’t we all love to have someone drink-in time with us?

  21. Jessica

    I found this post through Rage Against the Minivan. I wanted to chime in and say that as a married woman with a full-time career and no children, there are many days that I long to be a stay-at-home mom. Some of my friends are doing this and get to meet on weekday afternoons for lunch and playdates. Sounds heavenly. But I can completely understand where you’re coming from because despite my longing to raise children, I know that it won’t be enough or make me feel fulfilled. What do we do with that? I like to think that not feeling fulfilled is what pushes us toward accomplishing more. But where do we draw the line? These are questions I struggle with everyday.

    On another note, is the book you’re reading My Total Money Makeover by Dave Ramsey? If so, we read it and are converts to DR. You should enroll in Financial Peace University. It will motivate you that much more to plug through the baby steps.

  22. Amanda

    I love your blog; moreover, I love this post. I feel like I have found a “blog sister” =]… I think this theme has been running through my own blog posts lately at justafriddle.blogspot.com. Forward motion is great, but it seems life is really lived in the little moments. =] Thanks for the reminder.

  23. Mindy Van De Graaff

    Allison this blog is fantastic!! Oh I love to hear how you are doing and see those cute, cute boys of yours. And yes motherhood is so crazy and so beautiful all at the same time. Every mother reading this post is nodding her head in agreement. Every now and then I wear that “BYU” blue matching hat we got, and I think of you. Here’s our new family blog that I hope helps young wives and mothers…


    Love you!!


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