So, I recently read the highly acclaimed “Girl, Wash Your Face” by Rachel Hollis. I went into it with high expectations because, hey, critical acclaim! And, as it turns out, it really is a great book. Honestly, it was one of the first self-help books that I have ever actually read all the way through and enjoyed.
When I finished reading the book, I was seriously motivated. I even passed it on to a friend to get her fired up too. I was going to wash my face! I was going to stop believing the lies! I was going to take on the world!
But then a day or two passed… and every time I thought of the message behind the book, I felt conflicted. I felt lame.
I felt like I lacked the ambition that every other woman possessed.
I have read a few books recently with a similar message: You were made to chase your dreams and your passions. You are the only person standing in your way. Write down your dreams and find a way to pursue them!
No, really – they all said to write them down. Put them in a journal or a diary where you can read them over all the time and push yourself.
So I got out my trusty journal (you know, the one I use to write down my deepest thoughts, my grocery lists, and where my kids draw me lovely, scribbly pictures on almost every single page so that it’s pretty much unusable anymore). You know the one. I grabbed that journal and wrote down my biggest goals:
- Be a good person.
Hmm…maybe that’s not what they had in mind. Ok, these books say to make it anything. Buy a vacation home. Walk the streets of Paris in the rain. Lose 30 lbs. Run a marathon. Go back to school.
Let me try this again.
- Be a good person who has a positive impact on the world in a way that is beneficial to maintaining a happy and healthy home.
What a lame goal.
In fact, I can remember sitting down after putting the boys to bed and saying to my husband, “it turns out I have no goals.” He laughed, and a good conversation ensued. But I had to admit to him that I was feeling so uninspired and boring. I LIKE my life. I am content in my day to day. I have no deep desire for change.
Sure, my life isn’t charmed and some moments make me wish I had a fast forward button, but I’m getting to be a mom and a wife and a daughter and a sister and a friend, and that is enough for me. I can’t explain why it is, but I’m not interested in chasing a way out of this or looking for a world that is somehow better than this. This world, my world, is one that I love and cherish and have worked hard to have.
As I really sat and pondered how I was feeling, I kept coming back to two messages that have resonated with me for most of my life:
Not all of us can do great things, but we can do small things with great love. -Mother Theresa
Miss no single opportunity of making some small sacrifice, here by a smiling look, there by a kindly word; always doing the smallest right and doing it all for love. -St. Therese of Lisieux
These two messages, and in particular the quote from St. Therese, are the basis for what is known as The Little Way. It’s basically a blueprint for being your best self by doing small acts with great love. These ideas that my heart received and internalized long ago make up the philosophy that still sums up what matters to me.
My heart’s goal? To be the very best me that I can be and help others to do the same.
Sure, I’d love to run a marathon, but I am not ready to pour my life into that goal. It’s not all that compelling to me. What is compelling to me is the sacrificial love of a mother.
What’s compelling to me is learning to embrace the everyday moments – the dishes (someone’s got to do them), the good morning snuggles, and the late-night fever duty. What’s inspiring to me is fully embracing the mundane of each day knowing that for every moment of doing the little thing, you are creating a big and beautiful thing.
And what if being a mother is enough?
What if the innate need to choose our children over ourselves much of the time is the very thing that makes us special? What if packing lunches and helping with homework and reading “The Gruffalo” for the 55th time that day is a big enough dream? What if we are content with this blissfully messy, chaotic, hysterical circus that we live? What if, in choosing The Little Way, we are making room for a mountain of joy we didn’t know was out there?
So girl – you probably really should wash your face because I think there are many benefits to doing so. Heck, you should probably even read the book because she has a lot of great things to say. But if you are like me and feel like you’re constantly coming up un-ambitious, then know that you are not alone. You can have big goals and dreams, but you can also rest in this moment with your little goals and dreams fulfilled. You can choose to ride the waves of this season of life without needing more than exactly what you have. You can be content with where your life is.
You can be a mom. “Just” a mom. A plain-old-nothing-special mom doing plain-old-not-that-special mom things. And I believe that one day you’ll look back and you’ll see what all of those not-so-special moments added up to become:
Jen, thanks for doing the little thing of writing this article. It’s exactly what I needed to read today.
This is a great article! Exactly how I feel put into beautiful words!! Thank you!
Love this! I didn’t read the book but read some reviews and watched an interview of her talking about it (& perused her blog). The author lives a very priveledged life and many of us don’t have the same options as she does. (I mean her husband was like the CEO of Disney for crying out loud!! How can I possibly relate?!?) But really, I’m pretty thankful for my simple life and for not having the stress of choosing from all of those options all of the time. So anyway, thanks. 🙂
Thank you for this beautiful article. Finding joy in the mundane and small acts of love is better than chasing a huge goal. That’s what I tell my un-ambitious self, anyway 😉 Face washing and anti-aging creams are equally as important.
I feel exactly the same. I am enjoying this time in my life with my kids, and I’m not terribly inspired to do much more than that. I don’t want to frantically reaching. I want to be present and love each moment.
THANK YOU FOR THIS!!
Before becoming a mom I was pretty ambitious, plans for school, marathons, maybe starting a nonprofit, etc.
Now I am an older mom of an 20 month old. I still work and enjoy it, but this is who I am. And dare I say, who I want to be. I love watching my son grow and learn and just be.
Sometimes social media can get to me about “chasing a dream” or “climbing mountains”…. but what if I have already made my dream come true?
I’m going to enjoy every moment of this. Lifes too short not to.
Very interesting perspective Jenni! With the constant pressures to be women who can juggle a load with being a mother, wife, business owner, pursuing degrees, etc., this part of life can get overlooked and under appreciated for the special moments it holds. Being a mom is a blessing and we should vast in it. I love the empowerment this read brings to being a mom and still being fulfilled. Great read Jenni.
I’m glad I read this today. Thanks for the reminder to be “content” where we are, Jenni! Personally, I’m working full time and pursuing a side hustle that I hope will help us become debt free and allow more family time. I think my current challenge is to not miss what’s right in front of me (my family), because I’m too busy chasing the dream of trying to have more time with them. I’m trying to slow down and balance it all as best as I can … and enjoy the process along the way!
Thanks, Jenni! I started listening to the book (because I saw it everywhere!), but I felt guilty right from the get-go and decided to stop. I’m sure it’s a great book, and it clearly is inspiring to many. As a former valedictorian and a woman with a Master’s degree who decided to stay home with my kids, I can say that sometimes I still have the urge to do something big – bigger than dishes and laundry and refereeing. I even at one point decided that yes, once the youngest was in school, I’d pursue my PhD. And maybe I still will. But then my daughter struggled with ADHD. And my son has had occasional bouts of tics. And I have had opportunities to volunteer in unique ways in my kids’ classrooms and at church. I realized that my oldest would be a junior in high school when I finished my PhD. I’m sure that would be fine, and it would have its own benefits. However, I am left with the question – is my urge to do something big worth the strain it would put on me and my husband and family? This family was my big dream too. Do I really need to have it all, and is it even possible? I love your quotes. I firmly believe there is something worthwhile in the sacrifices. Now excuse me, I need to scrape dried-on cereal off the breakfast table and get my two youngest off to our morning activity. 🙂
I love this! Thank you for it!
Love! Love! Love! I have never really had any other ambition (other than traveling the world) and sometimes that can seem like not enough. You need to dream bigger! But IT IS ENOUGH! Thank you!
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