When I was in High School I secretly wanted to have 8 children. Not right then…but when I was older and married. I kept it a secret because I was pretending to be cool, but I secretly wanted nothing more than to be a mom.
Soon after my husband and I had our first child, I secretly wanted to get pregnant again right away. I kept it a secret because the logical side of my brain said I was crazy, but I secretly wanted to get pregnant again because my entire heart loved the feeling of having a baby in my home, so why not have another?
When my two babies were two toddlers, I secretly wanted to work at my corporate job 7 days a week. I kept it a secret because of what people might think about me if they knew. I didn’t even fully admit it to myself because of the shame I felt about it. But I secretly wanted to work every day because I was a rock star at my corporate job and horrible at my “mom job.” I was getting what I’d always wanted, and I was a miserable, grumpy, impatient, irritated wreck. And I did my best to keep it a secret.
As a woman in the LDS church I’ve secretly struggled with making peace with what I need, what I believe and what I’m willing to do. See, I know the doctrine is true and I want to be there for my family. I also have this unrelenting need to contribute to the world and to be a part of something bigger than myself and my offspring. I think many working moms experience guilt and I was no exception but my guilt didn’t come from being away from my children. It came from loving it so much and from not wanting to be at home even if I could. It came from getting a lot of time away and still struggling when I was home. It came from dreading the day my husband’s career would take off as I knew it would, and then having the Spirit tell me I should become a stay-at-home mom.
Many of my clients really struggle with being at home. They keep it a secret because they don’t want to appear ungrateful for husbands who support them so they can be home. But they miss a lot of things about the jobs they were so good at and the fulfilling work they used to do.
A lot of my clients secretly can’t wait for their kids to get older. They don’t say that out loud because everyone tells them how sad it is that they grow up so fast and also because of what they make it mean about themselves or their feelings for their children. But they want it because small children are exhausting and the work is important but mindless.
All of my clients are smart, capable, ambitious women and should be running this country in my opinion.
They are rarely alone but often lonely.
They have a to do list that will never be done, but they are totally bored.
They love their children to the moon, but they can’t stand the women they sometimes become when they’re with them.
They know they are capable of so much more than what they’re doing, but they also know there IS nothing more important than what they are doing.
Most of them are members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. Their testimonies are a blessing and a challenge at the same time. Because if they didn’t know that the Church was true they could just do what they felt like doing and not wonder if it was what the Lord had in store for them. They could be selfish and just call it being “authentic.” But they do know. They know they can’t make huge decisions about raising kids and careers and self care and service and love and balance and time well spent without sincere prayer and a willingness to do hard things.
And all of this is a secret. Because you don’t say out loud or even admit to yourself that your mom job is the hardest thing you’ve ever done and brings out the worst in you. It’s a secret because of what people might think and because of the shame you feel about having such feelings in the first place. It’s a secret because you don’t raise your hand in church and say that some days you think it would be easier if you didn’t know what you know.
And of course keeping it a secret is perpetuating the problem. Shame loves hiding and trying to be cool and worrying about what other people will think. That’s its fuel. Shame thrives in secrecy.
Today, my secret wish list is longer than it’s ever been. Some of the things I still hide out of fear or shame. But many more of them are secret wishes that make me feel alive and excited and driven to take huge leaps and gigantic risks. Anticipation IS greater than realization so I’m filling my life with all sorts of anticipation.
My secret wish list is also full of things I already have. I really want a little boy toddling around reminding us how good it feels to shake your hips when the music moves you. And I really want a son and daughter who are so close in age and in heart that they play together all day and drive each other crazy all night. And in the end they look out for one another, pray for each other, and know what it feels like to have someone’s back.
And I secretly want my husband more than I ever have. I want his time and attention and love and affection and I want happiness and fulfillment and joy and love for him. I want my life and it’s not because I have anywhere near a perfect life. It’s because I learned the skill of wanting what I already have. It sounds so pretty and easy but I assure you it’s not. It’s not a skill they teach in school but I wish they would. It’s a skill I hope you’ll be up for learning with me in 2015 and then teach it to everyone you know.
Your challenge today is to post in the comments what you secretly want. Or, if you’re not ready to share your secret with the world, email it just to me: [email protected] Or, if it’s a super secret want, just journal about it in a private place for only you. But get it out there. Because the shameful ones will lose their power to harm you if you bring them out of hiding. And the exciting ones put you on a path to making them realities by saying them out loud.
Thanks for reading and for sharing this message with those you know will get it.
Happy Thanksgiving and love to you and your families!