Do you mind if I share my heart for a few minutes?
I've been reading the book Start by Jon Acuff, and it has really gotten me thinking.
(If you haven't yet read that book, I highly recommend it. It's fun to read and offers great advice. But if there's something that you know you're supposed to do that you've been putting off, I'm warning you that this book will most likely get you moving.)
Throughout the book, Jon challenges each of us to discover what our "awesome" is. What is that thing you feel you are uniquely supposed to do--that brings you the most joy, that really matters, and that can help others?
Then, once we've discovered that "awesome," he encourages us to "punch fear in the face" and start doing it.
You really need to read the whole book because Jon is a master at understanding the psychology behind all this. And I've decided that my first step is to share what it is I feel I'm supposed to be doing and then acknowledge some of those fears that I need to overcome.
(Just writing this blog post scares me, but it's quiet in my house right now, and these thoughts simply need to come out.)
To start off, the thing that I have been totally putting off--that I know I'm supposed to do--is write my book about motherhood, based on my post Your Children Want YOU.
I basically have the whole thing outlined. When I sit down to work on it, my heart starts beating fast, and I get this feeling that that is exactly where my voice needs to be. I am highly passionate about that topic, I find joy in writing about it, and I think that book could be helpful to a lot of people.
But I never work on it. Ever.
I have a huge poster board hiding behind my bookshelf with dozens of Post-it note ideas all over it that I haven't looked at in months. But until I read Jon's book, I wasn't really sure why I was putting it off.
And now I know.
Fear #1: If I publish this book, I will somehow be saying that motherhood isn't "enough" for me.
I know . . . just typing that out sounded absolutely ridiculous, but let me explain. Writing a book by myself feels like a huge undertaking. Power of Moms published a compilation of essays last October, and we have another compilation coming out in the spring, but those were joint projects that didn't feel scary.
Stepping out and writing this more personal book feels big, and even Jon Acuff himself, who spoke at a conference I attended, said, "Maybe if you're a mom with young children right now, that's enough."
In my heart, I answer, "YES! Motherhood is definitely enough!" I've always known that, and I find the most joy in my life when I'm with my family, being the mom. I'm totally fine with waiting until my children are grown to do all this writing, but then I keep getting this feeling that I'm not supposed to wait. I'm supposed to do this now.
Fear #2: I have to be perfect.
There are a lot of amazing writers out there--especially in the "mom" space. Sometimes when I look around at what everyone else is doing, I quietly shut my laptop and say to myself, "I don't even want to compete with that." (Not that it's a competition, but you know what I mean.)
I was telling another blogger at a conference about Power of Moms, and then I mentioned that I have a personal blog at powerofafamily.blogspot.com. She looked really surprised and said, "Blogspot?" I'm sure she didn't mean it to come out unkindly, but all of a sudden, I felt entirely unsophisticated.
This personal blog is where I figure things out. It's my own little place, and I like it here.
But sometimes I feel like just deleting the whole thing or making it private or starting over somewhere else because I don't have it all "figured out." (No professionally-designed header, no special links at the top, no consistency in when I post. . . . ) There's just so much going on in my life that running this blog as actively as we run Power of Moms would overwhelm me.
Fear #3: I'll start something that I won't be able to finish.
I am really good at doing what I say I'm going to do, so if I say I'll jump into this book project but then have to back off because my life gets too full, that devastates me. Being a mother is incredibly demanding, and I can't put a book about motherhood ahead of my children. It's easier just never to start, right?
Perhaps I'm simply getting ahead of myself. It's summer break right now, and I am surrounded by excited, energetic children for most of every day. This fall, my youngest starts first grade, and I'll have six hours of quiet, five days a week. Maybe I need to give myself a break for the next few weeks and reassess later?
Fear #4: I'll have to "go bigger."
I really like my life right now. I like not having pressure to be anywhere other than my home. I like playing the piano and reading with my children. I like taking care of my mom on Thursdays and working on the computer when it works with my schedule.
Your Children Want YOU was my post that went viral. It received more than a million reads in two days.
I feel like if I write a book based on that post, I need to really promote it, and re-do my blog, and make the book as popular as that post. I feel like I'll need to send my children away from me so I can keep up with all the details that go into such a mammoth project.
But I have zero desire to do that.
I don't want to be an author who is also a mother. I want to be a mother who writes sometimes.
So where is all this leading me?
Yesterday, after reading one of the last chapters of Start, this question came into my head:
Who are you writing for?
And then these answers came to mind:
(1) I'm writing for myself. This process of pouring my heart onto a blog or into a book is therapeutic for me--especially as I'm losing my mom. I need to write.
(2) I'm writing for my daughters.
This thought struck me the most. My girls will hopefully be entering this motherhood world in the next 10 to 20 years, and I want to capture motherhood for them. I want to record this life and these thoughts while they're happening, so when they need strength and encouragement, it will be waiting for them.
But what's interesting is that they're not waiting until they're moms. They're reading now. Grace and Alia are my two most loyal blog readers. Alia receives my blog updates on her phone, and sometimes she'll come home at the end of the day and say, "I liked your post, Mom."
Then the girls and I will talk about motherhood and family life and God, and I feel a connection to them that is deep and beautiful.
(3) I'm writing for "that mom" who needs this.
What seems to make the most sense is for me to simply make this blog private and share it only with my immediate family and close friends. Lots of people do that, and it would be a whole lot less scary for me.
But every once in awhile I get an email from someone who lives far away--who I never would have met in a million years had it not been for this blog--and she says something like, "Thank you for writing. Please don't stop. It makes a difference for me."
Here are some final thoughts:
I don't need to write for a million people. I need to write for individuals.
I don't need to go "bigger." I just need to write what feels right--when it works with my life.
I don't need to be perfect. I need to be authentic.
That feels a much more doable.
My children are up now, so I will close. Thanks for being with me as I try to figure all of this out. I appreciate you.