So, I am re-reading one of the most influential books of my life, The Alchemist by Paul Coehlo. As a side note, I find it strangely comforting that such a deep, meaningful book was written by someone who has spent his fair share of time in an asylum. That gives me hope.
Anyway, one of the basic premises of the book is that we each have our own unique personal legend and our lives will always have a small nagging emptiness if we do not seek out and live ours. I’ve thought for a long time that my personal legend had some vague connection to fame and fortune – as an actress or a writer perhaps. This reading, however, has produced a surprisingly different train of thought for me.
My ‘personal legend’ is to discover how to be a mom. Please know that this is very different than making my child my personal legend. I know women who have turned their child into their reason for living and holy cow they are a scary bunch.
What I mean is actually learning to be a good, present, mom. May sound easy enough for some of you, but you have to understand that I am of the selfish, self-centered ilk and learning how to take the needs and interests of a demanding, unpredictable, wholly his own self child into account is not an easy thing. I’ve actually struggled against it for six years. Why?
Because I am Very Important and I have Very Important Things to accomplish and fitting mothering into my Very Important Schedule feels like shoving a round peg into a square hole. It’s not that I’ve been a bad mom. On the whole, I think I’ve done pretty well. But it has always felt rather ‘inconvenient’ to be interrupted by mothering kinds of tasks like playing catch, or getting ready for bed or reading a book. Don’t get me wrong – I did these things, but not with a ton of enthusiasm.
And before anyone jumps my case, please know that I LOVE my son. Anyone who knows me well says that my love for him is palpable – even when he is not around. This is not about him and my emotional neglect of him. This is about me and what I’ve believed to be important lo these many years.
So how are things different since getting smacked over the head with this new personal legend I feel compelled to live out? Well, I wish I could say that suddenly peace and harmony reigned at my house and that I suddenly find myself channeling June Cleaver. Sadly I am a much slower learner than that. And trying to figure out just what a “good mom” is is going to take some time. I am not willing to abandon all the other things that interest me and make me who I am in the world. So I’ve got to figure out how it all comes together.
But, I will say, that since deciding that my personal legend is about learning how to be a mom, the pieces of my life seem to line up more easily. My priorities are easier to determine. I don’t feel as pulled. “Beginner’s Luck” The Alchemist calls it and perhaps it is. I just know that it feels better than anything I’ve felt in a long, long time.