I'm a stay-at-home mom and writer. Neither are necessary very glorified in society. I got far more impressive responses when I was teaching at the university for eight years, responses like, "Oh, so you are a PROFESSOR?" I got mail from organizations that was addressed to "Dr. Rachel Garlinghouse."
I chose to stay at home with my children for the long-haul when my son was born. I had three kids under the age of four, and grading papers, prepping curriculum, and responding to student messages was next to impossible. I was tired of trying to grasp balance, impossible balance.
When I elected to stay home full-time, I wondered what my life would become. Would I wear mis-matched sloppy clothes all day, un-washed hair pulled into a messy ponytail, with no makeup in on? (Yep.) Would I wonder what my purpose was? (Yes.) Did I try to fill voids with projects? (Uh-huh.)
A few weeks ago, my mom and I were having a conversation about how our home was always open to family, friends, and neighbors. We never knew when someone would pop by. Mom would offer them a snack or a meal or a ride or sometimes a bed for the night. There was no such thing as turning away a guest.
Our conversation evolved into my mom saying, "What if each of us just ministered to the people right around us? Then everyone would be ministered to."
We talked about where those individuals whom we extended hospitality toward were today. Did something we did or said impact them? In most cases, we will never know. In a handful of situations, we learned the forever-impact that our kindness had on them.
I like to dream big. I like to think that my books can reach thousands of people, bringing hope and education and inspiration. And thankfully, they do. But this isn't my most important work. I feel that my motherhood is my ministry. I'm pouring into the three young ones who I'm in charge of raising, loving, and nurturing. That alone is a huge task.
I'm trying to grow where I'm planted.
It's not always easy. First, motherhood isn't glam at all. There isn't much glory in wiping noses and bottoms, sweeping up crumbs for the eighteenth time that day, or breaking up sibling arguments. There's a lot of snot and poop. There's pick ups and drop offs and shuttling. There are a lot of mysterious stains on my clothes. I feel like I always smell funny (probably from the mysterious stains or the fact that sometimes my kids use me as a human Kleenex).
Second, when people learn about my previous life, one where I had a title and an office, I am met with smiles and nods. And then, "Will you go back to teaching soon?" The implication is that what I'm doing now is ok for now, but I should be hopefully be moving "onward and upward" in the future.
Third, motherhood is HARD. I don't think I've ever been more challenged in my life. Curveballs are the norm. Each day is its own adventure. I almost feel like I'm living in some sort of wild experiment like Hunger Games.
I try to remember that what I'm doing right now is the most important work. I'm living in the present not focusing on prestige. I'm proud of what I have accomplished, but what I'm doing now is where I'm supposed to be right now. It is enough. It is challenging. It is rewarding. I juggle writing and babies---both are beautiful, meaningful, and worthy of my time and attention.
I'm growing where I'm planted. And I'm trying to make an impact on the immediate people around me: those God has put in my path and me in theirs.
What about you, Sugar? Where are you right now? Are you nurturing yourself? Are you standing proud in this moment rather than living in the past or future? How do you stay focused on today?
This week, check out:
10 New Adoption-Themed Books to Add to Your Reading List over at America Adopts
8 Things You May Not Know About Adoption over at Huffington Post Parents
Infant Adoption Guide: Answering Transracial Adoption Questions
and I just started posting on Instagram! Mostly my girls' new hairstyles. Follow me, Sugar! You can also reach my ever-growing FB blog page and on Twitter where I post news stories, hair styles, new adoption and race books, and much more!
STAY TUNED! My fifth book will be released this month!