Calling. What is that anyways?
Growing up, my dad always told us, "You can do anything you set your mind to.” My older sister got a degree in psychology, traveled the world, and became an amazing writer. My younger brother became a successful photographer/videographer/director of photography/filmmaker/all-together-bad-ass.
I became a beauty school drop out and then a wife and mother at the ripe old age of 21. Then spent the next 10 years trying different things to feel ok with that decision. I have friends (you know... "working moms"?) who have jokingly said, "I would love to be one of those simple-minded women who can just stay home with their kids." Maybe they said this not realizing it stung? I don't know. But it's that idea, that a housewife/mother is contributing less to society, that makes it even harder to do such a thing and feel accomplished. We seem to only want to fulfill the calling that makes the fattest pay check, earns the highest awards, or is most admired by other people.
Calling. What is that anyways?
I wanted to be a doctor, a nutritionist, a life coach, a designer, a sign language interpreter, an interior decorator, a traveler, a beautician, a violinist... When I was really young I thought I was an actress until I realized I was only entertaining myself for hours in front of a mirror, and that no one else really wanted to see my work. I thought I was a singer until I heard a REAL singer.
I've worked many different jobs, had many different titles. Compared my life with many different people. But the one I've always come back to is wife and mother. I seem to always find myself back here. In this “Is-this-really-good-enough?” place. It wasn't until I had my third son that I thought maybe THIS is my main thing. So I surrendered to it. How feminist of me. All I was missing was vacuuming in high heels and a polka dot apron, right? Wasn't I supposed to do more? Wasn't I supposed to save the world? Hadn't I set my mind on MORE? I wanted to be so many things. Did I really just have to set my mind on being ok with "mediocre"?
No. Just... no.
What did I think saving the world looked like? I must have been expecting a cape and an invisible jet. Or maybe loads of cash and an awesome black car. It never occurred to me that maybe I was the one making the heroes. Maybe my job, my "thing", my "calling" is to make better people.
My three sons are better than me in every way. They are smarter, more athletic, stronger, wiser, kinder, more accepting of people who are different than them, more driven... and they came from me. The truth is, I set my mind to making the world a better place. And then I made them. I'm a homemaker. Everyday I create a safe place for them to come to, eat a comforting meal, sleep in a safe bed, and wake up to new adventures that only a little boy could think of. Just the thought of them makes my heart swell with pride.
One day they will grow up, as we all do, and leave this sanctuary. They will make a sanctuary of their own. They will invite people in and make those people better.
I never understood what people meant when they talked about their calling. Until I really heard it. It's that quiet but undeniable voice that just calls you by your name when it's time. When my 14-month-old is trying to communicate with me when I'm busy making dinner, I hear, "Janell. He needs you." When my 10-year-old is trying to show me his latest invention... "Janell, this is it. Pay attention." When my husband sighs heavily in exhaustion at the end of the day... "Janell, be sensitive." That's my calling. These people are my calling. In the everyday, seemingly mundane, constant, simple calling of my name, I find what I've always set my mind to.