This blog was archived from January 11, 2016.
What a title, huh?
Besides families being pushed to the side lately and no longer praised in this culture (I'll get more in depth with this one on another blog), it didn't shock me that articles like this were being blasted all over my newsfeed last week. In case you don't have time to read that one, actress Jennifer Lawrence (in case you don't know who she is, she's the actress from all the Hunger Games movies and all the movies with Bradley Cooper and Robert DeNiro in the last 5 years), was praising Planned Parenthood and attributing her success to them. Quoting:
"My mom was really religious with me when I was young. She’s not so much anymore...I wouldn't have been able to get condoms and birth control and all these things I needed as a normal teenager who was growing up in a Jesus house."
"And now [gestures widely] I am a successful woman who has not had a pregnancy..."
Am I the only one who finds this really sad? She is being hailed as someone "brave enough" to voice this out. Really? Brave, that you get to have all the meaningless sexcapades you want with no consequences? Have we forgotten what the word "brave" actually means, folks? What does this say to women who took responsibility for their actions? And why wouldn't she be as good (if not better) an actress if she had a child? This post is not about pro-life or pro-choice, so I really don't care about your stance on what women should have the rights to. But it IS about life NOT BEING OVER once you have children. It's about encouraging and praising mothers who continue to live out their dreams, with little buddies to share it with. Perhaps it's not how they envisioned their dreams initially, but it's actually a little better, we just have to help them see that. There are MANY, wildly successful people who have had children, had families, built empires, and maintained strong family values and attained "success". I know she isn't saying that there aren't, but with someone who has such a strong influence on our nation's youth, what is this indirectly telling young women who look up to her?
We hear it constantly. Heck, I heard it so much that at times I am guilty of letting thoughts like that go through my mind. Things like:
Once you have kids, that's it! Their needs come first, your life is now theirs. Your life as you know it is essentially over.
Everything you do will revolve around your kids.
You will go broke. The average child costs $250,000 and you're paying for it.
Your relationship will deteriorate.
No more partying, no more drinking.
You can't be spontaneous.
They ruin your body.
You have no more free time.
I want to share with you a bit of my own timeline and story. I can't speak for other moms, but I can certainly bring some hope with my own personal experiences. Back when I was living in the TALIA IS THE QUEEN OF HER UNIVERSE chapter, I surely had a lot of hopes and dreams. I wanted to be a screen writer at one point, I wanted to be a reporter/news anchor, a photographer.. I wanted to be so many things. What was I though? A young girl stuck with several "dreams" while working odd jobs and not bothering to really push myself because...what for? I thought I was going to live forever, I didn't realize how fleeting "youth" was, there was no need to push myself because I thought I had the essentials in life. As long as I had enough money to do my shopping and going out with friends, saving a little there, I found that to be more than enough and I rolled with it. Success is obviously different to everyone, and at the time, that was success to me. The first summer of being married, I gave birth to Amelia. I cannot tell you what this experience has done to me, mentally, physically... all I can show you is the proof of the NOW. Within a year of being her mother, I quit my job and pursued my dream at the time: photography. I finally had the guts to do this, the willpower, the WANT to be better and be better, a purpose... all of it. I was told by everything around me that all the fun stops, that I wouldn't be able to travel, that my dreams were going to come second, all of the above. It was a hard pill to swallow, and many times I did find myself cornered with anxiety and depression because I allowed the lies of the world to get to me.
Some reality checks for those who continue to be lied to. If you are a mother, and you look at your children like they have ruined your life, do yourself a favor and pray against such thoughts. Do your children a favor and NEVER voice them aloud to make them feel any sense of guilt or blame for being born. I would love to get in to depth with this further, but the short of it is, we can all agree that children look up to their parents in those early years, all kids really want to do is impress their parents and make them proud... saying things like this can be very damaging to their spirits. I cannot stress this enough: your children have nothing to do with your "failures" and your life not going the way you planned it, and saying these things repeatedly does NOTHING for you. Heads up: life doesn't stop!
I have only grown more successful in life, love, business SINCE becoming a mother. I refused to let the words of the world get to me. It's a practice that needs to take place constantly, something you really have to "tattoo on your forehead" in a sense, repeat to yourself.
When I was starting out, the photographers I admired and looked up to I began admiring for the wrong reasons. Instead of just liking their work and wanting to learn how to achieve similar shots and discipline, I became focused on why they were successful and why I wasn't. What did they all have in common? NO CHILDREN. Really.. some of the best photographers have no kids. They travel the world, they take on works shop after work shop and all they have waiting for them when they get home are their "fur babies". I am not bashing this at all.. in fact, I caught myself in moments of "failures" thinking "wow... I would be there and be doing all of that and more if I didn't have a daughter that needed me every damn second. How can I leave? How can I take on all that I want to take on without being a selfish mother?" Do you know what this did to me? It stunted my growth in photography. I made THAT the reason and stuck to it. Convinced myself that THAT was why I couldn't be just like the others. How idiotic, right? Thankfully this doubt and moronic way of thinking only lasted a season. I had to access what was really important to me. I always say, DEFINE SUCCESS FIRST and what it means to you. When I pushed myself I found that I was able to take on destination weddings, able to attend workshops, able to take on my goals of over 40+ weddings in a year and you know what? I was MORE DEPRESSED than ever before. I missed weekends with my children, time with family and friends, because I convinced myself that taking on all of that would mean that I was a success.
To the eyes of the world perhaps I was. To my family, and to my true self, I was a sham. With as much as I enjoy traveling, all I am left with is anxiety and once the job is over I want nothing more than to be with my family. I long for them when they're away. I cannot enjoy breathtaking views without my husband. Truly, once you find real love, please hold on to it for dear life. I let others' versions of success define me, and I was drowning.
How do you define success? I've spoken to some moms. I won't say the name of this person but one woman told me: As soon as our home is paid off, enough money set aside for each of my children to go to college, a vacation cottage, traveling at least once a year with family, my business thriving, money set aside for retirement... Okay so you get it, you've heard of lists like this or maybe yours looks similar? After much thought, here is how I currently define success FOR MYSELF (in no particular order):
Being able to go to church on Sundays with my family, as often as possible. Time to read my Bible or listen to sermons online from some of my favorite pastors.
At least one date night/afternoon a week with my husband.
Knowing the roof over our heads is paid for for the next few months.
Being able to feed my children organic food/non-GMO crap.
Traveling with my family. (Clearly, we do a lot of this)
Working from home. (Currently still in my pajamas with a cup of coffee... blogging while also processing a recent wedding)
Being intimate with my husband at least ___ times a week. (Yes, I said it. How does that define success? C'mon, do I really have to answer that for you? I won't give you the number, but it rhymes with MORE.) Life is short, if you're not intimate with your spouse as often as possible, dude... start prioritizing! ;)
Having Curiosity Conversations with people from all walks of life.
Being young enough in mind to always take advice from my parents, and old enough in mind to actually ACT on that advice.
Being paid to do what I love. Even if it's multiple things.
Having moments during the year where I get to be charitable, where I get to help others.
Continuing to raise kind-hearted children who love others and love the Lord. Better versions of myself. You always want your children to be BETTER than you, in everything.
My list keeps growing as my children get older. Do you see the point I am making? If I am able to attain those 12 things listed above, to me, I am successful. Obviously my list and definition doesn't match yours, and guess what? It shouldn't!
I'm sure I am not the only one who has heard things like this. Perhaps even guilty of voicing out these things in the past. If you read through all of those excuses again, you will notice one thing: selfishness. It's all about YOU and YOUR needs and YOUR time being taken away to give to someone else. As if giving life and caring for it is so below us as people now, the story we want to write is now no longer our story, it's theirs. You have to become the more selfless version of your selfish self.. remind me again: how is that a bad thing? Now, let's go over all of this again with a new mindset, shall we?
Once you have kids, that's it! Their needs come first, your life is now theirs. Your life as you know it is essentially over. Your life has just begun. You have closed off a chapter to your life story which is called; "ME, MYSELF, AND I", and you are now getting the amazing privilege to prove that there was always more in you to give back, to care, and to show and experience REAL LOVE.
Everything you do will revolve around your kids. As it should. Children don't ask to be born, whether the child was planned or not, you are now a parent and it is not the child's fault, ever. You might have to decline a Friday night out with your single friends, you might have to stay home for several months, but if you're looking at it through the eyes of someone with views like Jennifer Lawrence, you will be missing out on all the wonder and thrill of this precious life! Do you realize as a parent the POWER you have? You have the ability to raise up the next Mother Teresa or Adolf Hitler. Seriously! Have you thought of it that way? It is up to you and you alone to raise up someone who is going to be a blessing to others, or someone with the potential to kill off millions. Let that sink in a little.
You will go broke. The average child costs $250,000 and you're paying for it. No one is denying that children are expensive. But it's all on your views and what you need to have, or what you get pressured in to buying for your children because people and Pinterest tell you to. Here's another news flash: while it's nice to have money saved for your child's college, it's NOT MANDATORY if you just aren't able to. I didn't go to college, I didn't need it to be able to pursue what I wanted, but if I wanted to, I would have taken the community college route for the first 2 years, then finished at a college, hopefully knowing what I wanted to pursue in life. Don't let society lie to you that it's YOUR JOB to save all that money for your children, who can and will easily squander it while figuring out what they want to do in life. It is your job to clothe, feed, and raise up good human beings. That is IT. That is all. Life finds a way, why burden yourself?
Your relationship will deteriorate. Did you read #7 on my success list? Your relationship will either sink or swim, but guess who is manning the ship? You both have to put in the work, you both have to WORK on your marriage constantly, and this shouldn't be burdensome either. What a LIE fed to us. Yes, there will be moments when you have to put the kids' needs before your spouses, and vis versa! Yes, there will be times when you will say things to one another that you instantly regret out of pure frustration and lack of help. These are the times that we VOWED to stick together. The good is easy, the bad is tough, the ugly is downright UGLY. The success is knowing the difference, and knowing that you have made a promise to one another and since children grow up so damn fast, who do you get to high-five at the end of all of this?
No more partying, no more drinking. Sure, no more partying and staying out all night downtown and making poor choices. Perhaps your "wild nights" have turned in to "wine and cheese nights" with friends instead of ragers at the club...and so what? If you're a mother and you're missing that life, please re-prioritize a little. Please re-evaluate your friendships ... real friends would never make you choose. Take a look at the life you helped create and do something good with it, quit being such a selfish ___ and GET IT TOGETHER!
You can't be spontaneous. You either have a great imagination or you don't. Having kids doesn't just make that spontaneous side of you vanish! Sorry to burst your bubble, but if it wasn't there to begin with, it ain't showing up now.
They ruin your body. Women, we are always struggling with this one, right? Of course I miss my younger, perkier self.. does this make me a bad person for missing that? Of course not! Miss it, but don't long for it constantly. Turn off anything and anyone telling you this. My body is not mine any more since becoming married. It belongs to my spouse. It's also called plastic surgery if you need something changed that badly. But if you spend too much time focusing on that, it will stunt you, you will miss out on a lot of wonder going on right in front of your eyes. You're also not sending the best message to your children. Do I miss my old body? Sure! Would I take it all back and not have kids? Nah, I'm good.
You have no more free time. Time. Time isn't on your side and it never will be. Once you have kids, you actually do start spending your time a little more wisely. I do get my free time, believe it or not, and I spend it to the fullest.
It's easier to blame others for your lack of success, isn't it? It's easier to point the finger and blame your surroundings for your inability to pursue your dreams. It's easier to make excuses. No one wants to hear that THEY are to blame for their failures. Don't take the sugar-coating any longer. You wanna do something? DO IT. Be the best example for your kids... you wanna raise up a bunch of entitled kids who also blame the world for THEIR problems? I think we have enough of that. Raise up good human beings who make good choices and think of others. That's hard to find these days. YOU AND YOU ALONE ARE THE REASON YOU ARE WHERE YOU ARE IN LIFE. It is by YOUR CHOICES AND YOUR ACTIONS that you are at the spot you're in. Not enough people are told this! Does this mentality really help you sleep better at night? Wow, my life sucks... totally not my doing. -_- If this is your mentality, you are that much farther from ever living out your dreams or experiencing true happiness.
You see folks, I am not telling you to go out right now and start popping out babies - I am simply trying to encourage others out there who feel like they're in a rut, or that their "lives are over" because they had children. This might ring true for many who have allowed this awful lie to rule over them, but start looking at all the examples out there of parents who MAKE IT, who not only survive but who still get to do what they love - their way. Not society's way, THEIR WAY. Wake me up when we are able to praise families again, couples who STAY TOGETHER even when it's so much easier to call it quits. Do you know why our government praises broken homes lately? Because we you don't have your family to rely on, your spouse to rely on, you have to rely on THEM. That, I will save for a whole other post, but look around you and let that sink in. In the mean time, keep on truckin', sit down with your loved one and start RE-DEFINING success for YOUR HOUSEHOLD and not the world, and I guarantee, you will be so much more fulfilled. With love, Talia
^I love this photo. Taken in Lake Tahoe on New Years Day by my cousin. My favorite part about this photo is my son's naughty expression. Notice how I am holding his hands down because all he wants to do is throw a snow ball that's in his glove? This kids are truly the light of my life... I absolutely love them to bits!
All content and images copyright Talia Likeitis ©2016 and cannot be used without expressed permission.