Raise your hand if you love Frank Capra’s movie, “It’s a Wonderful Life.” It’s always been a favorite of mine, but last night it spoke to my soul. It depicts the story of George Bailey, who has big dreams and plans. He wants to be important, and to do something amazing with his life, and his dreams are full of adventure, and promise. But every time he gets close to his dream of adventure, he battles the conflict of doing what is needed vs. doing what he wants to do. As the years go by of him putting others first and pushing his dreams aside, he begins to feel like he has no value.
I am a stay-at-home mom. It’s what I’ve always dreamed of doing, but I often find myself struggling with feeling like what I’m doing is really of value. When people ask me, “What do you do all day,” they expect one simple summed-up answer, and when I was pursuing my business more, it felt thrilling to say, “I refinish furniture, and decorate for people.” But now that my husband’s life requires more of a support role from me, I’ve had to take a big step back from my business, and my goals. I have aspirations to go back to college, to compete in a triathlon, to work in a boutique, to write a book, to start a non-profit, and to make a serious income from my art. And it’s easy for me to look at my life and say, if it weren’t for the other 6 people I’m supporting, I’d be pursuing my dreams right now. And just like George, I often find myself with a sense of discouragement that I haven’t done anything big or important.
When George Bailey confronts his biggest challenge, he becomes so discouraged he feels like it would’ve been better if he hadn’t been born at all. And it’s only after he receives the gift of being able to see what the world would be like without him, that he realizes the good he’s actually done for his community and his loved ones. And even more importantly, he realizes how wonderful his life truly is.
This message gave me so much encouragement last night. Being a mom means putting one’s own dreams aside to support others. It’s messy, monotonous, and often feels inconsequential, undervalued by society, and unimportant. But for the people we support, the value is unmeasurable. And while I can’t pinpoint one big thing I’m doing, my life is full of a thousand inconsequential minute tasks that together, make one big, important, wonderful life.