What’s It Worth?

Caryn: So my kids are away for the day and I’m supposed to be working on this big freelance project that’s due in a few days, but of course I keep spacing out. (I’ve learned I actually thrive on chaos!)

Specifically, my mind keeps returning to a sentence I read in a great book by Anne Tyler called Breathing Lessons. Here’s the line: “It was Serena who’d said that motherhood was much too hard, and, when you got right down to it, perhaps not worth the effort.”

This line scared the little dickens right out of me–because when I read it (and it was in the middle of some serious mommy chaos!), I thought, “So true.”

Nice.

To be fair, right now, I don’t believe it at all. I think that motherhood IS worth it. But I have to get it out there that I’ve had plenty of moments when I’ve thought otherwise. That I agree with Serena. So there. I said it. Sometimes I think motherhood is too hard and maybe not worth it.

Anybody else share this terrifying little truth? Even for a moment?

Carla: I don’t know if I’ve ever thought it wasn’t worth it. But I have thought, I can’t do this anymore. For me, that’s a scary thought because, well, I have to keep doing this. So what would happen if I just gave up? That scares the crap out of me.

I don’t think these terrifying thoughts are reserved for mothers by any means. There are truths too awful to say out loud in everyone’s life: What if I have this job for the rest of my life? What if this is all there is? What if I never get married? What if I can’t stand to stay married one more day? What if I never have children? What if I hate having children? What if someone finds out I’m a huge fake? What if I fall apart?

It seems to me that the reason those are such scary thoughts is that they all point to that big question: “Is it worth it?”  If I don’t end up with the life I hoped for, is the life I have worth anything? And apart from the usual Christian platitudes that, for me at least, don’t really get to the heart of the fear behind that question, I don’t know that we can ever answer that.

I think part of what we–or at least I–need to work out is what “worth it” means. Worth it to who? Worth what? Why does “worth” matter? As with most things, sometimes unpacking the baggage behind my fears helps dissolve some of the worry and terror.

Caryn: Good points. Because in my “Is it worth it?” moments really I’m just dealing with those same old unrealistic expectations that come from the outside–and from right in me. Unrealized dreams. Fears of missing out. All that good stuff. Huh….. What do you all think?

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