Coming Full Circle | Overstuffed Overstuffed

Sunday, April 04, 2010

Coming Full Circle

When I was about six years old I wrote down what I wanted to be when I grew up in my journal.  I obviously had big dreams, because I wanted to be a "singer, dancer, actor, entertainer, musician, mother."

As I grew older, I suppose I was all of those things.  For a really long time I focused only on the "dancer" part of the equation.  I was going to be a ballerina in some big professional company.  I went to ballet class at the Utah Regional Ballet every single day.  I stretched out in my bedroom every night and sometimes I even worked on my pliés and my échappés before climbing into bed.  I loved it.  The greatest day of my life was finally getting to be en pointe and going to buy my new pointe shoes.

Then, one day, my hips started to pop during barre work, and soon I could no longer lift my leg very far off the ground.  It was discouraging, especially after I had worked so hard to be able to get it up to my ear!  My mom took me to a doctor and basically we found that I had some strange condition that caused my tendon to pop off of the bone and then swell up with all of the repeated movements in ballet.  There was nothing to be done.

I had to quit.

And so, at the age of 14, my dreams of being a dancer were pretty much dashed to pieces.

So then I focused on being a "singer" and "actor.".  I took voice lessons and enrolled in choir and drama classes.  I became heavily involved in the Thespian troupe at my high school, and decided to major in Musical Dance Theater in college.  However, a twist of fate landed me in the Music Department instead, majoring in Vocal Performance and Pedagogy.

Now I was really focusing on the "singer" and beginning to learn what it really means to be a "musician."  Somewhere during college I may have lost sight of the "mother" part of my original dream, because I was pretty sure that I wanted to sing professionally and that's all.  Then, the Spirit kicked me in the pants and I served a mission and came home with a new focus.  I met Joel, and while it isn't exactly a short story, the rest is history.

Sometimes in quiet moments I wonder just how I got here.  I am a woman who spends half of her time doing dishes and folding laundry.  Another quarter of my time is spent in the car shuttling kids to their various schools, lessons and other activities.  Even my nights are full of comforting nightmares, changing sheets or helping sick little girls.  Sometimes I even wonder just why I ever wanted to be a mother, as it certainly isn't as glamorous as being on the stage.  I wonder what my life would have been like if I hadn't married and had children.

In the nearly ten years that I have been a mother, I have had various levels of career mixed in.  Lately it's been at a much higher level, but there were times there when I had only one or two vocal students and I was able to focus on motherhood in a way I really can't right now.  It was during those times that I developed some of my other talents and interests, such as scrapbooking and photography.  For a while I even thought that if I were to go back to school I wouldn't get my Master's degree in music, but that I would do it in photography.

But lately, I realize that my true love really is singing, and performing, and being on stage.  And I'm thrilled I get to do it more and more.  However, I don't know how to balance the motherhood side of things.  Sometimes I wish I didn't have the drive to do something more.  I wish that being mom was enough for me. 

I've come to terms with the fact that this is my nature.  I don't think I could truly be happy if there wasn't a little something else to do.  After all, even as a little girl I wanted to do it all.  My focus now has to be how to find balance and give my girls all that they need from me, while still giving myself what I need.  Some days I fail miserably, and others I do pretty well, if I do say so myself.

I may not be everything I wanted to be, but I am a singer, musician and mother.  (Entertainer is debatable.) 

What's more, is that the "mother" part is no longer an afterthought, like it seemed to be when I was six.  While the music I am supposed to be learning is sitting on my piano, neglected for weeks, my children are my first thought as I wake in the morning, my focus during the day, and the last thought before I finally drift off to sleep.

It is who I am.

23 comments :

  1. I could have written this--I,too, was devastated when I realized that I was never going to be a prima ballerina after years and years of lessons. I never aspired to be a singer (no talent) but my youth was spent being very ambitious and my adulthood spent trying to figure out how to do what matters most (nurturing my husband and children) whilst still being a writer, as well as various other things that I attempted for a while. In the end, being a mother just has to win. It can be painful though.

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  2. It seems that your experiences before you became a mom were a great training ground for raising your girls. You have them in activities that will nurture their interests, and help them find out who they are. At the end of the day, won't it be great if they want to be a mom, and the kind of mom that theirs was for them!

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  3. Loved this post, Lara. I'm definitely a mother first, but I love the writer part of me as well.

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  4. This isn't the last time you'll think about this, tweak and adjust, go full steam and power way back. Probably my biggest challenge, as I've lived the life you're describing only for 10 years longer, has been having the balanced take on what I've committed to enough to know when it's too much. I never wanted to be just another 'flaky musician'. So it was really hard when I found that my family suddenly needed more of my energy than they had when I initially committed to the project. And sometimes you just have to live with the reputation (often within your own head) of being 'unreliable'.

    Those are tough decisions, particularly since there is rarely any applause for rolling up your sleeves and taking on your family's challenges. This kind of introspection will be a great blessing to you and your family as you strive to balance your life as a performer with your responsibilities as a mother.

    You can do both, Lara. And make no mistake: You're still dancing.

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  5. Oh Lara thank you for this post! It sums up so greatly how I feel all the time. For me motherhood was never on the list. Sounds bad, but it is the truth. I had the hardest time sitting through conference and listening to the Mothers role talks because I struggle internally as well. It is such a relief to hear someone else who I admire so much feels the same way. Thank you again and again.

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  6. My first love is being home, but I have learned in the past two yrs that teaching special ed is what I want to do, if I need to work. And that is good enough for now.

    Thanks for your openness.

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  7. I had dreams, lots of them, and lots of talent, too. I could've gone anywhere, with the right teacher to guide me. But for now, those are all on a shelf while I raise my children. Before I got married, I knew that even if I won the Nobel peace prize (back when it meant something to win it), even if I traveled the world in performing arts groups, none of it would matter to me if I didn't have the chance to be a mother. So, for now I've traded singing arias with singing primary songs and lullabyes instead. I've traded the stage for changing diapers and cleaning up messes. But, it is still alive inside of me (it won't die, no matter how many times I've become discouraged and wish it to go away). Someday, when the time is right, I will go back to it. But, my children are only little once. If I could find a way to do both, I would, but I haven't figured that out yet.--Amanda B.

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  8. I had no idea about the ballet part of you!

    The rest of this is very much me, only insert "writer." I know I don't always balance my life as well as I should, but I am like you--while my kids are my focus and the most important thing, I do need that other outlet. And I really do think that it makes me a better mom in the end, because when push comes to shove, I have more of me to give because I've become more.

    (If that makes sense to anyone but me . . .)

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  9. This is a beautiful post, one I think will resonate with a lot of women. I think we all wonder, at least once in a while, what our lives would have been like if we'd taken one path or another, and then we come back to our own unique truth - we are happy doing what we're doing. And, we don't have to limit ourselves - we can do it all. We just do it in turns.

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  10. Thank you, the funny thing is I was just thinking of that same thing. loved it. Mother first Mother first and loving every part of it!

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  11. i have to say that every morning when I check your blog, Baby James is very insistent on sittin on my lap and talking the picture of your girls in the header. Today he waved at them! :)

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  12. What a fantastic post. I love that you live your life so passionately. I think it's important that your daughters see you developing yourself outside of motherhood. Things might have been a little different in my life if I had seen that in my own mother.

    I love performing, as well. I wish that I had half the training you do, in any of those subjects!

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  13. Lara, I love this. It resonates with me. I feel the same--that there are these other things I HAVE to have (writing, photography, etc...) to feel complete. The motherhood thing of COURSE is the first and biggest--but I wouldn't do it well without those other things, either.

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  14. I can relate to your feelings completely - trying to find a balance, where to fit "me" in there without neglecting my children. I've always seen myself having some kind of part-time career, be it teaching piano, doing Mary Kay, or turning to my crafty side to do it. And, it's funny how life has handed me just the opposite, at least in this stage of my life. A combination of Jacob's neediness as a baby, moving, and our financial situation over the last couple of years have forced me to make my sole focus my children.

    I miss performing and accompanying as a pianist - (though I'm nowhere near your calibar, I know). It was a huge passion and joy in my life. I miss meeting with women and making them feel and look beautiful with cosmetics. I miss having time and money for my crafting interests. especially while I'm homebound. I feel like in many ways, being a mother has meant neglecting those parts of me that used to bring me the greatest sense of joy and accomplishment. But, for the first time in my life, I am content just being a mother. I have my good and bad days. And, I still have big dreams of owning my own business someday. I realize that that dream may never become my reality. But, at least I have the peace of mind knowing that I wasn't stuck behind a desk letting someone else raise my children for me - which isn't something you're doing either.

    By watching you, you're girls are learning to be independent. They see you creatively provide for your family without resorting to a 40-hour job somewhere (something they can apply later in their lives when circumstaces ask for it). They're also learning how to give quality time to their children when they don't have a lot of time. (Even being home all day without the demands of the part-time career I dreamed of, it's easy to neglect our children by busying myself with household duties, TV, and computer.) Life is always about trying to acheive a balance between the essential and distractions, even good distractions. As circumstances change, the battle continues.

    I think you're doing a better job than you're giving yourself credit! (Sorry for the really long comment. I didn't realize that I'd be writing you a book when I started...)

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  15. Beautiful words Lara! You are keeping the eternal perspective of things in sight and whats most important as being a mother and still you are able to do some of the things you want to do for yourself too. It's what we can take with us that matters most and you are making your family a prority while enjoying the other stuff as much as possible. You are an amazing woman whom I admire!

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  16. Lara, I can so relate! Granted, I'm not a mommy, but I'm a daddy and a husband and the time required in that and church work doesn't allow much in the way of performing. There are tantalizing opportunities here and there. But as much as I love these opportunities, I'm so glad that they are not ALL I have--and that my family is mine forever. I'll never be on Broadway, or even the local rep, but I'll never be alone at Christmastime or when I'm old, either!

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  17. Did you just love Elder Ballard's talk! I cried! I love being a mother, love having a mother, and daughter and granddaughters so very very much!

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  18. Great post. It is so amazing how everything else kind of plays second not that it isn't important but being mom just is WHO we are. I can't imagine my life without being mom. Thanks.

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  19. And to realize that you are happy with who you are is the biggest battle. To understand that, you know how everything

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  20. Playing catch-up with your blog (it might take me awhile), and this post completely resonates with me. My biggest fear about having children in a few years is that I'm going to lose sight of the other aspects of my life—but that only underlines the importance of finding some sort of balance in life. I think you do that beautifully, and I really admire you for it!

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  21. I always have that feeling of there being "a little something else to do." But I'm glad because when you itch to use your talents, it's because you have them. I'm super glad for that itch and it feels awfully good when I sometimes have the opportunity to scratch it.

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  22. Ahhh, what a nice blog post. We are all so many things, and the sum of them make up only a part of who we are as a person.

    That's sad about how you had to cut your dancing career short.

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  23. I so agree - I have found myself coming back to music, too. Still am not sure if I'll make it back to school for many years, but someday, I want to...

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