Monday motherhood: the light, the bushel

My view from lunch yesterday, just because.

My view from lunch yesterday, just because.

I have little interest in explaining my continued absences from Daily Cup of Jo because I’ve too often told you I’m back, and then just as quickly gone away again. That’s unreliable, and immature. Except today, it’s Monday Motherhood and the two issues are related. So forgive me and…hello again.

I’ve feigned maturity over the years. It’s been useful, especially when I’ve desired treatment as an adult. But inside, I’ve known the truth – that I’m mostly faking this grown-up thing because I have to – sort of a distant cousin to “necessity is the mother of invention.”

Daily Cup of Jo is a hobby; I don’t get paid for it. I’ll occasionally receive something in my PayPal account from Google Adsense; enough for a cup of coffee but not much more. So writing it, much of the time in the last two years, has felt, well, silly – and immature. The track in my head goes something like this: “You should be working at something that will pay for the girls’ school/Lululemon tights/Trader Joe’s cookie butter.” Mature parents don’t dabble in hobbies when their children are in school. They go to jobs and make money, right? When working moms have commented or complimented me on a recent post, I’ve been flattered and yet…squeamish. I should be running a company, not posting recipes

But my reality is such that I married well, before I figured out what it was I could and should be doing to make a living. Sure, I ghostwrote a few books; I’ve made small change editing and proofreading. You can find dozens of articles I’ve written on the internet for others, including instructions on how to become a security guard, and facts on SMS and QR codes. But the big bills are paid by the husband. So when an opportunity arose to get paid enough to close the gap between Bun Bun’s current private school tuition and her future high school ransom, I jumped at it. The blog? Silliness. Even if I had the time…it just wasn’t mature.

I’m a firm believer that the best way to learn is by following examples. As a parent, if I told my kids to look both ways before crossing the street, they had to see me doing it first, and then always. I want them to grow up into mature, responsible adults – so if I’m not stepping up and into the role of the parent by exhibiting grown-up behavior, how can I expect them to follow my lead? I have a job now where others rely on me to put ducks in a row in order to pull off the after-school sports program at their school. In addition, I’ve got the house and their lives to manage. Frivolous diversions like writing a blog? No, no.

And yet.

You knew there was going to be an “And yet.”

I’ve told my children time and time again, “Don’t hide your light under a bushel.” I’ve oft repeated it on this site. I don’t define that light as their professional calling. More power to them if it is. The “light” is that gift, or gifts, they were given at birth or developed naturally in childhood. To me, it’s somewhat mystical. It could be a musical talent, athletic ability, mathematical genius, or even an uncanny knack for understanding how a car engine works. It’s that thing one can do that makes sense viscerally. We can’t keep it secret. It was meant to be given to and/or shared with others.

So I’m a writer, among other things. Not compared to other writers, but a writer just the same. My job isn’t to harshly judge the sentences I construct, to a degree that I don’t even construct them. My job, if I’m to set an example for my children, to not hide my light under a bushel, to be mature, is to share my talents: those gifts I was given for purposes unknown. It’s not for me to understand the reasons why. Explanations and results arrive on their own timetable. Example: I was born athletic. This turned into a love of sports. Now I coach, I manage a soccer club, I run an after-school sports program. Surely, someone benefits from that beyond myself.

Miss T has some issues at school with other students inadvertently teasing her for being so smart. She said she doesn’t want to raise her hand so much to answers questions because it makes the students who struggle in school feel badly about themselves. I praised her thoughtfulness, but told her she’s not doing them any favors. In addition to being patronizing, she’s hiding her light under a bushel. And then I thought of a saying I read somewhere at my sister’s house. (Turns out it was in a frame hanging on the downstairs bathroom wall.) We’d all like to think it was Nelson Mandela who said it, but it’s actually Marianne Williamson:

“…Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate.
Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.
It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us.
We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?
Actually, who are you not to be?
You are a child of God.
Your playing small does not serve the world.
There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you.
We are all meant to shine, as children do.
We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us.
It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone.
And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same.
As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”

– from the book A Return To Love (1992) by Marianne Williamson

What are your talents? Hope you’re not hiding them.



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  1. Kate Brennan says

    Nice post! I’ve always liked the quote, “Do what you like, like what you do”… your post resonates with me! Thanks for posting! You’re a great mom! Aunt! Sister! And writer! Have a great week! 🙂

  2. Anne says

    I so love how you write! And I get the paying for the girls’ school and of course Trader Joe’s cookie butter. But Lululemon tights?? Wow, impressive and very fancy pants!! 🙂

  3. Joanne Neil says

    Thank you for taking time to write again. You do have a gift and I always enjoy reading your words. You have a clever way of putting your thoughts into words. Of course, a lot of the specialness for me is that the miles between us are shortened with seeing your thoughts written down.

  4. Mary Anne says

    I was so happily surprised to see your post – kind of like coming home and having a real letter in the mailbox. Thank you for the Marianne Mandela quote – it is a great message for us and our kids. Actually – for our girls, as isn’t this a girl thing? It would no more occur to my son to “hide his light under a bushel” than to say, please, make me do more chores and homework. And I find you very mature and immature in all the best of ways. Cheers to us brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous women. Loved hearing from you –

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