As I mentioned in my previous post, women are bombarded with many models of parenting. Now let me tell you more about the "mommy tracks" I've been on, and what I've learned about leading my children.
The complexity of my own situation as a parent astounds me. I've been a stay-at-home mom, an outdoor-photographer mom, a work-from-home-worship-leader-mom, a self-employed-traveling-and-speaking mom, a married mom, a single mom. I've started three businesses while my children were still at home, and transitioned in and out of several careers. Funny how there wasn't a manual for what I ended up doing. If there had been, the chapter titles alone would have terrified me.
My son, Peder, is now a graphic artist and filmmaker. Since he was in high school, we have worked together on various projects. (My company is the first one listed on his resume.) When he was in college about an hour and a half away, we would spend a day or two together every few months, working on worship videos. Yesterday, we were in a meeting together, proofing the final copy for a line of photographic cards I just started. Peder has done all the design work, and forgive my bias, but he's really good.
As we reviewed the proofs with the printer, I remarked that many of the photos were actually taken when the children and I trekked up to the Colorado hills together on weekends. With his sharp 20-something memory, Peder began to recount how he'd experienced the various scenes: lugging my tripod up a craggy gorge so I could capture the waterfall at just the right place; wide-eyed as our rusty old four-wheeler hugged the mountainside to avoid careening into the canyon below (Mom just had to get to those wildflowers at the top); chasing marmots in the alpine rock as I captured a mountain lake in the last light of summer.
Later, when we were driving back from the meeting, I thanked Peder for taking the time out of his busy work schedule to design the cards and see them through to production. He said, "Mom, it's what family does. And it's worth it, just to see how much you're into this. Anna and I always worry about you when you've lost your passion. You've always supported us and pushed us to do the things we love. We want the same for you."
My parenting formula isn't anyone else's. But I do know this: Yesterday, my son shared something eye-opening. Something pivotal. Regardless of the situations we were in (and some of them were traumatic - they lost their dad early on), we all tried to find a way to live life from our deepest places. Our most passionate places. Those places that called on our best selves. Mothering was that for me, definitely. But so were photography, worship leading, writing, speaking, running an advertising business, and now a card business.
I think the key to my parenting was this: The particular "mommy" or "career" track I was on at any point didn't seem to matter nearly as much as living the one life I had to the best of my ability. For me, that meant involving my children as much as I could in my pursuits. Most of the time, however, it was not direct involvement, but a day-to-day sharing of dreams, complete with successes and failures.
For those of you who are both leader and parent, your matrix of mothering may look entirely different from mine. Yet if you view passion (that is. living significantly) as a requirement for life and not an option, you will infect your children with a view of life that will help them create rich, God-honoring lives. Rather than just making do with life or worse, settling in as victims of circumstance, you will lead them into the realm of possibility. Regardless of the track you've chosen, if you have a dream, live a dream, and share that dream with your children. They will become dreamers and livers of dreams.
Oh, there's one parenting track I left out. It's called the "realized life" track. We have not because we ask not. Ask for the strength and grace to develop your gifts to their fullest potential. Don't settle for living someone else's life or the one you think you've been handed. Even if you have only an hour or two a week to do it, start co-creating your best life with God, and your children will do the same.