Posted in Mental health, Parenting

Motherhood, Music Therapy, and Mid-Life

Sometimes I think I must sound like a broken record. Whether it’s talking about how tired I am, or fretting about whether I am raising my children right, or – especially lately: What is my calling? What is my passion?

Mothering is one thing. I always knew I would do that. In my mind, it was just what would happen. It did, and has been immensely fulfilling.

But something’s still missing, because career has also, always, been dearly important to me. As a sixteen year old, I purchased a book called “Find Your Fit.” I was determined to make the right choice early on, so that money and time would not be needlessly wasted on an education I didn’t use, and so that I could go to work every day with anticipation (rather than dread).

I followed my 16 year-old passion, but perhaps not common sense. I chose and relentlessly pursued (for a time) a career in music therapy. In many ways, it did fit my personality and abilities. But timing, geography, closed doors, my own limitations, and eventually pregnancies got in the way of finding my “fit” within the tiny, highly competitive world that is music therapy (in my region, anyway).

In all honesty, I must admit that my first pregnancy and the break from my job that it necessitated, came as a relief to me. I hadn’t anticipated, in my naivety, what my day-to-day would look like. Let me sum it up for you in three words: human juke box. That is what I felt like I was. I had trained and studied for over 5 years, expecting to work on multi-disciplinary teams of professionals and accepted as one of them. In reality, my value in the workplace went so far as my singing and guitar-playing prowess (which wasn’t very far at all). I didn’t like the spotlight, or the role of amateur pop-star/entertainer. This wasn’t what I had signed up for.

Recently, I read a quote somewhere that grabbed me:

“It takes courage to grow up and become who you really are.”

E. E. Cummings

It grabbed me because maybe – just, maybe – have I grown up enough to finally come to terms with who I really am? Not who I admire, or who I want to be, or even who I wish I was. But who I am.

Yet, as a tired mother, am I even able to see past my present predicament, enough to know who I am? All I want these days are slivers of time to rest, be alone, think, and pray. The remainder of my time and energy is absorbed by menial, time-specific tasks too numerous to mention, or poured into my family members as I do my best to make sure they’re ok.

An elder asked me a few months ago: “What’s your passion?” (Could there be a worse question to ask a mother?)

Napping. Maybe that’s my passion. It’s all I can think about, anyhow!

Decluttering my home. Crawling out from under this pile of rubble. Seeing the light of day again. Could that be a passion?

In response to the question I had held back tears and mumbled something about how I used to think my passion was music therapy. But now I didn’t know.

And the ridiculous things we google sometimes. Am I right? Today it was “when being a music therapist doesn’t work out.” Yes, I actually googled it. And came up with nothing, of course. Aside from some annoying article written by someone who still loves what they do. (Yes…I’m bitter. I know.)

But the people like me are out there. I’m sure of it. Maybe they’re not talking, but I’ve noticed the colleagues who have dropped off of the association email lists. The classmates I never heard from again. The university students I used to work with, who vanished into thin air. Not everyone who entered this field is still employed in it. I wonder where they are. What are they doing? Did they find their true calling? Or are they still holding out for what they started with?

Maybe my pain is intensified, because I started out loving my profession so much. Maybe I just didn’t have the right amount of time, or luck, or the skill set, or whatever it was, to get properly established in it before having a family. Now I am pushing middle age, with obligations to my time and energy that I didn’t have before. Who would hire me?

I wonder if I should become a librarian. Just think of it: a quiet building, filled with books. (Books have always been a safe place for me.) Putting them away all day. Bringing order. Smiling at people across the desk, checking out their books. Until they leave me again to my quiet building, my books, and my thoughts.

Am I a librarian at heart? Or am I simply looking for an escape from my inner (and outer) chaos?

And is my career supposed to be about me, anyway? Isn’t it about the people I wanted to help? Honestly, what brings me satisfaction, as I look back at my life thus far, are the smiles in those photos. The smiles of my clients, and a few years later – the smiles of my children. They look happy. In those moments with me, they are happy.

And I guess that is worth something.

Are there other mothers out there, who question everything they used to think they knew about themselves? Or who have come out on the other side?

Are there music therapists who are still happy in their jobs? Or ones who aren’t?

Whoever you are, I would love to hear your thoughts and perspectives in the comments section below.

Warm wishes,

Lisa

Author:

Hi, I'm Lisa, a born-and-bred-in-Manitoba mom of 2 boys. Having lived in 7 different Manitoba towns or cities, I've managed to stay warm in them all πŸ˜œβ„. I am trained as a music therapist but currently work as a fulltime stay-at-home-mom by day, and a piano teacher in the evenings. By night, well...I sleep. Usually.

11 thoughts on “Motherhood, Music Therapy, and Mid-Life

  1. Thanks for your honesty here Lisa. Alot of this resonated with me. My passions were somewhat lost when I became a mother(snowboarding, skateboarding and guitar opportunities didn’t really fly my way with toddlers and nursing infants in tow πŸ˜‚).
    I gave those dreams up. I found some more. I loved running for a season, I still writing and baking. But these things come in seasons. I guess what fills me the most is when I stop and help others. Keeping in touch with young moms and encouraging them where I can, homeschooling, and writing are what fill me these days.
    None of them will make me money haha, but then, most callings from God aren’t lucrative. 😊 I hope you find what fits you in this season and that you get a clear peace that you are just where God wants you.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you so much Heather. I like your thought that dreams/passions come in seasons. That is encouraging to me. However what I am missing is a sense of clarity, that’s for sure! I find it frustrating because I have always placed great value on being focused and not wasting my efforts in the wrong ways. However sometimes (or most times, perhaps) I think God wants us to learn by trial and error. It’s good for developing humility!

      Skateboarding, snowboarding, and guitar?? You were one cool chick! (Still are!)

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I’m happy and blessed to be a mom, but sometimes I feel like that’s all I am. (That and cleaning lady. πŸ€”)
    I love how honest you are about this. It makes me realize how I feel about giving up my passions is ok.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. This is the story of my life – except that I didn’t even get to pick a career or start one. As the frustrations of momhood and the pointlessness of dishes and laundry have piled up, I’ve tried to untangle the mess of me to see where it all went wrong.

    My husband says we’ve got it wrong; we’re meant to work in order to achieve a nuclear family life. We’re not meant to pick a career in order to define us. Buuut, this perspective (and even Heather’s, earlier) doesn’t seem to help me.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I know, they’ve taught that at my church too. This idea of finding a job that fulfills you is a new idea, I’ve been told. And not what is most important. I get it, but what bugs me is that the ones telling me that are very employed and very fulfilled. And not moms themselves. πŸ€”

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Exactly! And people define themselves by their jobs; they have for centuries. Think how they’re described or introduced: “I’m Bob, and I…” what always comes next?

        Liked by 1 person

      2. And just think of how the pandemic has affected people who lost their jobs. When it all started happening, and they started talking about losing their sense of value, their identity, and feeling depressed, etc…I thought to myself: “That’s exactly what I went through.” But as a mom you’re just supposed to be thankful if you can be at home. And I am. But I definitely feel devalued.

        Liked by 1 person

      3. Also exactly! πŸ˜€ I thought something like, “You guys all sound like me for the past ten years!”

        …I’m actually not grateful I can be at home. I’m often glad I do not need to work, but resent being stuck here by reasons of role, convenience, and finance.

        Liked by 1 person

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