I have an internet-friend named Véronique. Véro is a Canadian, Catholic, mother of nine (!) who lives not far from where I once did — we have mutual friends in common although we have not met ourselves, and we correspond from time to time. I’ve been reading her blog since about… forever. She also hosts a podcast called Fearless Family Life, and on her latest episode she tackled the subject of “Making room for your interests and passions in the middle of chaos”, prompted by someone asking her if there is room for personal projects in the midst of family life, or if motherhood is just supposed to be “enough”.
During the course of that episode she mentioned the book One Beautiful Dream: The Rollicking Tale of Family Chaos, Personal Passions, and Saying Yes to them Both by Jennifer Fulweiler, which also looks at that exact question. I promptly ordered it from the library, and finished it last night.
This book came to me at exactly the right time, I think.
Jennifer Fulwiler is a mother of six who also writes books (this is her second) and hosts a daily two-hour radio show on Sirius XM. This book tells the story of how she found a way to pursue her passion for the writing life, even while dealing with the considerable household chaos that comes from having six children in eight years. Here’s an excerpt from the back jacket:
When Jennifer Fulweiler had her third child, she faced a crisis. As much as she loved her life, something was missing. It had been so long since she’d pursued her own passions that she was starting to forget what they were.
After being jerked out of her routine by an unexpected opportunity, she dared to ask: Is there any room for personal fulfilment during seasons of sacrifice? How can we use our God-given talents while still honoring our obligations?
Good questions. I think this is a struggle that is very relatable — I know it’s something I think about in my own life. Right now I’m a stay-at-home-mom and most of my day is taken up with the care and feeding and et cetera of two small children. And while I enjoy what I do, and generally find it fulfilling, I don’t think that this is all I’m called to do, either. There are things that are life-giving for me — reading, writing, crochet, singing — that don’t especially have anything to do with the vocation of motherhood but which are still pretty integral to what it means to be me. And while having a family absolutely requires self-sacrifice, as we learn to put the life of the family ahead of the life of the self, it doesn’t require self-erasing. The gifts and talents that I have are meant to be used and are part of the recipe for my own flourishing. And we shouldn’t imagine that flourishing as something that happens despite having a family, but something that happens in the middle of a family, and that is also for the good of the whole family. (Because if I am putting myself last to the point of being miserable and resentful… who is that helping, exactly?)
One Beautiful Dream is a funny, honest, and thought-provoking book. It’s given me a lot of things to think about in terms of the vision for our family life and my particular part in it. I recommend it highly.