My husband and I have been talking a lot lately about personally defining success. Unfortunately, success is usually defined as having wealth, prestige, fame, visible talents, etc. As a woman, sometimes it feels like we view other woman as successful if they can “do everything” or if they are super creative.
Sometimes this creates an internal struggle for me. I am really drawn to design and creative work. Because of this, I come across many creative woman with many admirable talents. It’s great to have access to so many ideas these days, but at the same time, sometimes it feels like we define these women as the successful ones. I came across a website a while ago that highlighted “Smart, Creative Women” who were entrepreneurs with creative businesses. It really rubbed me wrong. I really dislike it when when we judge someone’s intellect or ability because of their visible talents.
For me personally, I define success as being an involved mother and wife. I want my family to know that I care about them and that I am willing to sacrifice my time for them. As I have come to realize this personal definition, I have been a lot more motivated to accomplish it and I haven’t been as affected by the success of others. I respect that others can define personal success as something completely different. But for me, I want my children to remember me as an involved mom, not so distracted by other pursuits. I want them to have a comfortable home life. This isn’t to say that I can’t do the things I enjoy while my kids are young. It just means that I try to involve them. We garden together and I love talking to Sophie about home design and getting her opinion (and she actually has pretty good 5-year-old advice).
The ironic thing about this topic is that I always knew I wanted to be a stay-at-home mom. But back in the day there weren’t blogs and Pinterest and Facebook and all the other social outlets. The more I saw other moms starting personal businesses or creative shops, the more I felt I needed to “contribute something.” Last year I spent so much time trying to figure out what I might do, but I was always left frustrated. It was a confusing time for me because I saw these conflicting ideas of what a woman and mother “should be,” not necessarily what I wanted to be.
During that time, I met a wonderful German woman who’s daughter I taught piano. Her personality was so warm and inviting. Several times she had us over to her lovely home and showered us with wonderful homemade goodies coupled with enriching conversation. She truly was a smart, creative woman. But she also put all her focus on her family. She had a beautiful relationship with her children and I could sense their great love for her. She moved away about a year ago. I wrote her one time explaining my difficulty with this dilemma (comparing myself to these other career-driven moms) and she gave me such wonderful advice to enjoy the simple moments with my family.
There is another woman who has impacted me. I have never met her, but I have been affected by her simple blog. I hardly follow any blogs beyond my own family, but I came across hers after seeing an article about her home in a magazine. She has been highlighted in several creative venues, but the unique thing about her is that she has put her small business on hold to raise her two kids. One of her recent entries really resonated with me.
“I have many plans, but they are slow goals. I feel as though I have no one to impress but myself – a rather satisfying feeling which in my experience usually yields the most fulfilling results….
“I am greatly enjoying this time with my children and the peace and contentedness and satisfaction which comes from gardening and work out-of-doors. It’s like a sigh of relief for the soul.”
I highly recommend her down-to-earth and thoughtful blog at LovelyDesign. More than once, her words have helped me refocus on what’s most important to me.
The past 6 months have been very emotional and a time of reflection. With the Newtown shootings, Boston marathon bombing, and my own family and friends afflicted with death and serious illness, I have had many moments to reflect on what matters most in life. Seeing the lives of others shattered with the loss of loved ones has taught me that the most important thing I can do is to invest in my family, especially when my children are small and still at home. It may not be glamorous or worthy of accolades, but it makes me happy and I know it’s the right path for me.