Tuesday, July 15, 2008


I am taking an online scrapbooking class. It is way better than I thought it was going to be. I think the woman heading things up is leading us through various steps of thinking about our lives and then suggesting ways to represent our reflections with photos and journaling. Yesterday's "walk" page and last week's "time" page were for this class.

So this week she has us thinking about inspiration and aspiration. What inspires us and what are we inspired to do? What are we aspiring to do?


I have been thinking a lot about this lately. And since Dr. Elliot passed away I've been obsessing about it. Last weekend I went up to my hometown and there were signs up and down the streets: "Thank you Dr. Elliot! We were blessed!" "We will miss you Dr. Elliot!" I wish he could have seen them.

I just keep thinking about how much good he did. And I want to do good too. Not just change-a-lot-of-diapers good, or bake-a-lot-of-cookies good...Something big. Something meaningful. But what? Everything I've thought of doesn't seem like enough. What exactly do I aspire to do?

I kept thinking that my aspirations should be career-based. And although I have several goals I'm aiming at with my career, I don't think that is how I will ultimately leave my mark.

Today our teacher had us think about our perfect day. Where would be? What would we be doing? Who would be with us? And thinking through this helped me understand a lot about my aspirations. See, I want a home. I want my home to be a central hubbub for my community. I want friends to stop in and hang out on the porch in the evenings while we drink Sam Adams and chat. I want my sons' friends to come over and raid the cookie jar. I want my home to be a place where people feel comfortable and leave feeling refreshed. My perfect day would be mostly in my home or yard. My perfect day would probably include some cooking and baking. My perfect day would absolutely include connecting with people around me.

So, in a way, I aspire to do and be things that I already am, in a small way, doing. I'm on my way.

Dr. Elliot left his mark on an entire town. I don't think I'll be able to do that. And now I know, that that's okay. My mark will be different. But it will still be pretty good.


Melissa said...

So, I know it sounds cliche, and I know it's really hard to believe in the middle of a long afternoon, but changing diapers is VERY meaningful. seriously. The mundane details that you think about when it comes to your children that no one else does make such a difference in this world.

But, I know it's also good to think about other aspirations, too. (-:

I keep reading your posts and keep thinking that you would benefit from this book i half-read a few weeks ago (I never finish books- I just start a million books and then have to return them before I can finish them). I put a quote from it on the main page of my blog, and I think the title is there. But it's basically about applying zen practices to parenting- about getting past the waiting for this day or this moment or this phase to be over and really being IN the moment- both for yourself and for your children. It's about recognizing the higher meaning in the everyday life of parenting. I really should get it back and read the whole thing. It's something I need to work on.

Cat said...

I read your blog every day. It's almost as if I were stopping by to chat (I admit that you're doing all the "taking" but still...) You are a source of inspiration and you have helped me improve my card making (still have a lot to learn!) I also like to read your blog as a fellow mother of an almost 3 year old boy... Thanks for everything!

Susan said...

I think I might sometimes go too far with the "all you need is motherhood" thing to my own detriment and I so appreciate, Robyn, that you are such a good friend and push back against that sometimes--encouraging me to find other pursuits and interests and take care of myself. So, as a token of my thanks, I want to do the same for you. Robyn! You are already doing the most amazing thing in the world! Look at the pictures on that post. Other people could take care of your kids but no one else can be their mother and you are doing a great job.

I have no idea what book Melissa is talking about but it sounds like a good one so maybe you should look into it. I have a book I've been meaning to send you for months (maybe I finally will when we unpack) about the everyday "liturgy" of our lives--especially as women. Liturgy at church is repetitive, right? Even if you go to a pretty laid-back church things are in the same order each week, usually there are some prayers you say the same way at the same time every week. But it's still meaningful, right? The same with our daily work. The diapers are always there. The dishes and laundry are always there. Andrew will soon get to a stage where he asks the same exact questions every hour of every day. Its all pointing you beyond the moment to something bigger but you have to be in that moment to see it.

I'm pretty fried so I don't know if I'm making sense but I think you should have a little Yeah! Motherhood! party for yourself. And then maybe keep thinking about what sort of work you might want to do. Or what sort of cakes you want to bake.

Robyn said...


I'm wondering if I came across wrong. I guess I was trying to say that part of my epiphany was that I already am doing the big thing I want to do. And that is: cultivating a home. A home for my family and a home for my community. And that a lot of that is common household tasks that I don't mind doing...like diapers for example. I found this to be a joyous discovery...not a disappointing one.

I don't at all feel down and out about my current situation...but I still wonder what is ahead...and I would still like a little 'work' for the sort of balance that I used to have and thrived on.

push back again, Melissa and Q! I feel like we are missing each other a bit.

and Cat, thanks! so, so nice!

Kate Bucci said...

Isn't being on your way to achieving what you want, a great feeling? Really loving your perspective on our class prompts.

Mama V said...

Wow, that is so much more than a scrapbooking class! I'm so glad you're doing it and that it's helping your realize how fabulous you are!

That "B" word is so hard! I feel like I'm always striving for that right balance, especially as a staying-at-home momma.

I wonder what it is about outside work that satisfies in a way that inside/stay-at-home mom work doesn't? (I wonder this for myself as well. And then I wonder how it is that I can feel and reach that satisfaction having only one and not the other.)

We're sort of talking about this kind of thing on our email exchanges lately, right? Let's do more on our next walk!

erin said...

Robyn, you are probably the best home-maker I've ever met. I still miss the days when you and Dave lived in Salem. I always felt at home, even taken care of, at your place. I miss having a special place like that. Remember when Peter, Q, and I hung out at your house when you were on vacation? That's how welcoming you are; you don't even have to be in the same country to be a good hostess.