Dear Mechanic: My motivator is broken

It happens a couple times each year. Triggered by a change of season or calendar, I wonder,

“Who am I?”
“Am I who I want to be?”

And while I suppose that I am who I am — no more, no less — something digs at my psyche and pokes at my conscience, making me wonder if I am missing out on some important link in the chain of my life.

I always wanted to be a SAHM. This dream (and the fact that it became a reality) possibly annoyed both of my parents — after all, I was raised during the height of the feminist movement and my mother followed her heart to a career outside the home. I can imagine that my desire to be the antithesis, the stay-at-home-mom, might have seemed like an affront to my mother. My dad wanted me to get a college education and use it. Both of my parents were workaholics, putting in 60-70 hour work weeks. It wasn’t meant as an insult, but I did want for my kids some of the things I didn’t have: a parent who was there for them after school being one of those things.

I thought I would be a Kool-Aid Mom, the kind of mom whose yard and house were open to her kids’ friends. Images of happy neighborhood kids enjoying time together while the mom brings out refreshments (that didn’t cost a fortune, so it was simple to feed the masses) are perpetuated by advertisements on TV and women’s magazines.  However, I discovered that I often disliked the chaos brought by other people’s children. The arsenic hour is bad enough within ones own family, but adding other kids could either bring on a cranky evening or a migraine. I was shocked to discover that I wanted boring peace & quiet, not the constant lively activity of loud, happy children. Perhaps, then, it is a good thing that all four of my sons prefer to be quiet homebodies and the friends they have made throughout their childhood years have also been quiet kids. I’m not saying it’s a bad thing — but it sure isn’t what I pictured in my younger years.

As a single person, I enjoyed getting together with other people. Loud parties weren’t ever really “my thing” but I did enjoy time spent with other people, talking over dinner & wine or a couple of hours of discussion at dollar pitcher night. I still enjoy these things and I am making more of an effort to see them happen now that the kids are older. (Diaper days put a bit of a crimp in certain activities.)  Since I am married to an introvert, my social activities are rarer than I’d like and most often accomplished by leaving my man at home. It’s not how I imagined life but it seems to be a decent compromise.

I like to think of myself as a creative person. I appreciate art. In my mind, I can paint and dance and sing. (In reality? Not so much.)  I fall in love with creative endeavors the way a young teenage girl crushes on the handsome foreign exchange student: suddenly wanting to know everything about this new pursuit and diving in without regard for the realistic consequences. (Realistically, he smiles at everyone, she can’t speak his language, and she is too young to even ask him to the Sadie Hawkins dance.)  Okay, maybe that is a poor analogy, but I am quite good at falling in love with a new pursuit. Once introduced to stamping, I spent the next few months attending Stampin’ Up! parties and buying up cardstock, ink and stamps, along with other paraphernalia “necessary” to produce beautiful cards.  This was after a stint of learning to cross-stitch and after a series of other crafts that involved acrylic paints (long ago dried out), but before I fell in love with scrapbooking. Just like a crush, I fall into these creative pursuits with abandon. I have boxes and shelves full of supplies: papers, stamps, albums, and special tools to use with each of them, but for the much of the time, they sit unused. My creative supplies are mostly just that: supplies.  Next to my cluttered desk is a basket filled with yarn, knitting needles, and a crochet hook — all doomed to gather dust.
Alone, I lack gumption and creativity — and in the case of the yarn, I also seem to lack a great deal of coordination and ability.

Or perhaps it is simply that my motivator is broken. 

It’s fall here in my corner of the Pacific Northwest, with warm days and cool nights. In the past week, I have noticed the tinge of color in the trees, changing rather rapidly from summer green to autumn gold. Hints of red mix with the yellow and brown that glaze what was once a palette of green.

I’ve got a list of projects to attack: Christmas gifts to create, craft supplies to weed and organize (a project that is a hold-over from last year — consider this a shameful confession), and more than a few years of photographs to scrapbook and journal.


13 thoughts on “Dear Mechanic: My motivator is broken

  1. At present, after moving three weeks ago while working seven days a week, spending an hour or so a day opening boxes hunting for things (STILL eating out of Tupperware) that the movers packed without labeling, my motivator isn’t broken, exactly, but its belt is slipping a lot. I don’t see a chance of any creative activity before the new year.

  2. I find that when I weed out some of that stuff that I’m not going to use (in my case, a lot of thrifted craft supplies), in that space I find myself. Or, at least, I find the room to explore my interests. Oh, yes, sometimes it is crafty. Sometimes, it is “eat something healthy and read a magazine.”

    I think that as you find your passions, you’ll find your motivation as well.

  3. Oh, I can relate to this. My motivator is coughing and almost ready to stall every now and then – proof positive of that is a loom that has been gathering dust for more than 6 months and for no reason I can find myself!
    Be nice to yourself and heed the words of Smalltown Me – photography and blogging are so creative pursuits!

  4. It seems to me that your motivator to take beautiful photos is going full steam, and you are really good at it. I imagine that raising a large family meant putting a lot of time into other people for many years now –I think you should allow yourself the freedom to wander and take pictures. Life is too short to spend much of it organizing something that isn’t calling to you.

  5. What a lovely, poignant post. I think you should definitely get a job or volunteer–par-tine work would lift your spirit and make your time at home even sweeter.

    The way my husband and I do parties is no more than 3 a month and he gets to leave at 10 and I stay to the very end and catch a ride home. Works for us and our friends are used to it.

  6. I think a lot of us can relate to much or all of this. I have the extrovert (me) introvert (him) thing happening with Frank too. And I have a trail of unfinished projects behind me.

    Keep in mind also, that though you didn’t follow the career path of your mother or father, you did follow your heart.And that’s far more important than following what others think is right for you.

  7. I live and work a craft and found that it is still expected that one do other crafty things- what don’t knit? Geez it is the same reason I don’t camp. Good grief I live in the woods- why camp. I have all the trees, water, bugs, snakes and pest at my doorsteps. We all fall in love with maybe. My maybes are things that will organize my life. I fall for boxes and folders. I was a stay at home with a business it was good and bad but the kids remember we were always here for them.

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