If you have read any of my earlier blog posts you will know that I struggled for years with the idea that my life lacked purpose beyond my role as a mother and a wife. I have, perhaps somewhat naively, felt that I was meant to discover a purpose (with a capital P) that would give my life real meaning. And not only did I want to find my purpose; I wanted to be passionate about it. When the school year ended last June I was worried about how I would get through the summer with so much downtime. I thought I might experience feelings of uselessness. And that did happen a bit at the beginning of the summer. I had a panicky morning during a family trip to Sonoma when I freaked out over my lack of purpose and my “need” for a calling. But then shit got real, as it always does. I realized my kids were all struggling a little bit before leaving for camp, and I had to get out of my own head and be there for them. A family member became ill, and I spent weeks going back and forth from hospital to home. I didn’t have time to focus on my existential angst much less allow myself to become self-absorbed. Focusing outward is helpful for getting out of your own way.
My experiences this summer helped me to see that I don’t actually need to identify one grand purpose as life is made up of a multitude of purposes: large, small, overlapping and constantly evolving. And boy do I have plenty right now. To take care of myself so I can avoid becoming chronically ill again. To support my children on the roller coaster that is adolescence. This stage of their lives is intense in the way toddlerhood was intense, and being available to them could really be its own full-time job. To nurture my relationship with Harlan. To be a loyal and helpful friend. To love and encourage young children as a teacher’s aide. And maybe even to spread vulnerability by sharing my story. As it turns out, I really don’t have time for one all-consuming purpose. So I will focus on filling one need at a time, without worrying too much about where I’m headed, and see what develops.