"Let the gratefulness overflow into blessing all around you. Then, it will be a really good day." Louie Schwartzberg
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The Big 4-OH! and Reclaiming Myself

posted by Susan Dominikovich on , , ,


Saturday night has become family movie night in our house.  It's a treasured time, all six of us cuddled onto our 3-seater sofa under a fleecy blanket, cheering for the good guys and cursing the bad.  A couple of weeks ago we watched Peter Pan.  When it came to the scene where Peter tries to revive Tinkerbell, exclaiming, "I do believe in fairies, I do!  I do!" we all joined in.  "I do believe in fairies, I do! I do!"  Well, almost all of us.  Our Sam, ever the staunch 11-year-old just rolled his eyes and shook his head at us with an embarrassed smirk.  But the rest of us cheered when Tink reclaimed life and we unanimously took the credit for the miracle.

The other night, after praying for my girls at bedtime, our Violet gave me a massive bear-hug (not unusual--she's a strong one) and then chirped into my ear in her sing-song voice, "I do believe in Mummy, I do!  I do!"

What did you just say?

"I do believe in Mummy, I do! I do!"  Two big blue eyes stared right at me and a crooked toothy grin spread from ear to ear.  

She floored me.  I hugged her back and told her I loved her.  Meanwhile I wrapped up her little chant in my heart and took it to a quiet place.

When Violet said the words, "I do believe in Mummy," she probably meant in her 7-year old way, "my mummy is the greatest and I love her to bits."  But to my heart, her words had much deeper meaning and I needed to explore it. 

Just over two years ago I began my mid-life crisis.  "Crisis" is probably an exaggeration.  It was more of a mid-life re-evaluation.

I was approaching the big 4-OH! at nearly the same time as my two littlest babies were turning five and starting school.  I had been at home with preschoolers for nearly 10 years.  And since much of that decade was and always will be a blur of faded images but no real memories, I have to acknowledge that having four children including twins nearly did me in.  Most of that time was spent just surviving.

I distinctly remember the day when I looked at myself in the full-length mirror.  I mean really looked.  And I didn't like what I saw.  Lines around my tired eyes. Puffy cheeks.  And a thick neck.  Not to mention a belly that stuck out beyond the waistline of my size 14 sweat pants.  The joke in the house was, "are you having another baby?"

In those days, I was known as "Super-mum" to others.  Friends and family admired me for surviving twins and doing so with a sense of humour.  To me, I was just tired.  Tired of being tied to little people.  Tired of meeting their needs.  Tired of incessant routines.  Tired of making do with faded and stretched sweatpants and baggy hoodies because I couldn't face the prospect of trying to find fashionable clothes that fit.  Tired of the fact that fashionable clothes were a silly idea anyway since I spent most of my time on my knees, either at home, at playcentre or at mainly music, entertaining little people or cleaning up after them.  Constantly tired.

So I looked at myself in that full-length truth-reflecting mirror and I said, "who do I want to be when I turn 40?"

Thus began my transformation, my bid to reclaim myself.  My mid-life crisis.

Over a period of several months I lost nearly 20 kgs.  I walked my dog every day and ate sensibly--that's all it took.  I also got involved in music at my church.  It was something for me and a way out of the doldrums of child-rearing.  I invested in relationships and enjoyed organising coffee dates and dinner parties.  As soon as the girls started school, I began to work.  Instead of going back to teaching English at High School, I was taken under the wing of the principal of my kids' primary school and was able to do some relieving for her.  I loved it.  I knew I had found my passion, my calling and nearly every day that I have worked in a primary school classroom has been a day of joy and contentment.  With work came a paycheque and the need for professional clothes so I also started to shop and explore fashion again.  I discovered that my post-baby body minus 20 kgs was shapely and beautiful and fun.  I had options and I loved it. 

My 40th was a party and a celebration.  I sparkled and so did my friends.  I looked fantastic, felt great and have the photos to prove it.  Well done me.  The new me.  The reclaimed me.

Some of you may already have spotted the problem.  Others may be thinking, "what on earth could be the problem?"  And yes, on the surface, I had reclaimed myself and had done it admirably.  I had every reason to be proud of my transformation to become a happier, prettier, more fulfilled person.

Therein lies the problem.  

I had forgotten something.

Or more importantly, I had forgotten Someone.

It was all about me and I had forgotten that I had already been reclaimed; that my life had already been transformed by Jesus.  That I had been called by Him to live for Him.  That I had already, supposedly, died to myself.  It wasn't supposed to be about me at all.

I had forgotten that I am nothing outside of Jesus Christ.

I had forgotten that my life in Christ is not about being happier, prettier and more fulfilled; rather it is about being filled and living the full life that Jesus promises in John 10:10.  But living it obediently and for His glory.

There is nothing wrong with what I had done and I applaud any woman that sets out to transform themselves after babies.  I did need and in fact deserve to discover who I was again beyond "Super-Mum."  But I could not reclaim myself outside of my relationship with Jesus.  And predictably, when things started to unravel a bit around the edges of my reclaimed life, I had lost sight of my foundations for handling it.  I didn't handle it.  I nearly fell apart.  Until I remembered Jesus and grabbed hold of Him so tightly with no intention of ever letting go of Him again.  

Because outside of Jesus, I cannot handle anything.  I can do nothing.  I can reclaim nothing.

So now I continue to reclaim myself.  I still walk the dog.  I still teach and I still shop.  I still invest in relationships.  I explore my talents and gifts in music.  I explore new talents and gifts in writing.  I still want to be the best teacher I can be and a loyal friend.  I enjoy every day that I am called mum, a role that no longer tires me but satisfies me deeply.  But I do not take a single step without Jesus.  Every day I acknowledge that He is my Lord and my God.  Every day I seek to align myself closer to Him so that there truly is more of Him and less of me in everything I do.  And every day I marvel at and am thankful for this full life I have been given.

I am still reclaiming myself; but I now reclaim myself in Jesus.

In the movie Peter Pan, Tinkerbell dies and comes back to life because enough people believe in her.  I do not want people to believe in me.  I do not want my little girl or anyone to think "I believe in her because she's so fantastic, loving, amazing and talented."  

I want them to believe in me because they see Jesus in me and in everything I do.

"I do believe in Mummy, I do! I do!"  

Because I believe in Jesus.


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