Brielle said “I love you” today for the first time. I love ALL of the “firsts” and it is just as joyful and thrilling with an 8th child’s firsts as it was with my first’s firsts. She was the pure joy of my morning today as I hurried around packing to fly to Silicon Valley for an intense 4 day accelerator that Momni was selected for.
Sometimes I feel sad for Brielle that she doesn’t get the Mama Karmel that my 15-year-old Ben had at her age. I spent every waking moment with him! Reading to him, practicing piano with him, training him with memorizations, reading at three, potty training at 18 months, homeschool groups organized regularly with playdates, park days, art time, craft time, more piano, more reading, more training, more rocking, more doting and more EVERYTHING! He was my life and my whole existence! He had a different mommy than Brielle has now 15 years later.
But then I think, wait a minute… maybe I should feel sad for Ben that 15 years from now, Brielle is going to have a mommy all to herself that none of the other Larson teenagers ever had the privilege of having, with focus, attention, individual time, plentiful resources, calm, order, privilege and companionship that was never available when there were so many other children in earlier years.
Dealing with Mom Guilt—Reminders to Self
And then I just have to remind myself to calm down and be joyful in the moment and bask in the abundance of what each child is receiving NOW. I have to trust that as long as I’m doing the very best that I can with each day that I’m given, I’m the PERFECT mom for each of my children. And yet still, almost daily, I’m riddled with mom guilt that it’s not enough. I worry that I’m not enough. I always want to give them so much MORE! My heart longs to give them ALL of EVERYTHING from me and from all that the world has to offer them.
The Loneliness of Leadership
On the flight from SLC to Oakland on my way to the BootUP Accelerator in Menlo Park today, I enjoyed the beautiful words of Brene Brown. (I know I’m a little late to the party… but I finally am getting to her books! Here’s her most watched TED Talk.)
I felt like we were kindred spirits (Brene and me) when I read about her feelings of loneliness on her journey with her work. This quote especially made me perk up and feel like we were besties and that she “gets me” even though we’ve never met:
“I’ve lived my entire life on the outside…. It’s so hard. Sometimes our house is the only place I don’t feel totally alone. I don’t feel I’m on a path that I understand—I can’t find anyone else on it. There’s no one ahead of me saying, ‘It’s okay. There are a lot of professor-researcher-storyteller-leadership-entrepreneur-faithful-cussers out here. Here’s the blueprint.’ ” – Brene Brown
I felt that same loneliness today as I left my sweet “I love you” talking little girl to go to the male dominated big boy world of startup land in Silicon Valley to pursue the next phase of Momni mentoring, pitching and investment. I know with certainty this is my current correct path, and yet that doesn’t make it any easier or any less lonely. Like Brene, I can add that:
“I’ve lived my entire life on the outside. It’s so hard. Sometimes my home is the only place I don’t feel totally alone. I don’t feel I’m on a path that I understand—I can’t find anyone else on it. There’s no one ahead of me saying, ‘It’s okay. There are a lot of homeschooling mom of 8-entrepreneur-hybrid school founder-piano store/conservatory owner-faithful-tech startup leaders out there. Here’s the blueprint.’ ” – Karmel Larson
Even though it’s lonely—I know it’s right! And that—my mama friends—is the key to know if you are pursuing the right path. I ask God a lot of questions and he gives me very clear answers. He has provided me with decades of customized steps of what’s next. The key for me to divine mentoring and communication is finding regular, quiet moments in sacred spaces to commune, check in and ask questions. Imagine if you had a prestigious mentor in your city that you were paying top dollar to and you never checked in, never got feedback or never talked to them.
Free Mentoring Available!!!
Well… God is free and way better than any earthly mentor, and the secret is to just start checking in more often and ESPECIALLY to ask him the HARD questions. Figure out the answer yourself first, as well as you possibly can, then take your best conclusions to him in a sacred setting and ask him to confirm or correct your choice. Knowing WHY you are doing what you are doing, and that it is aligned with God’s will, really helps to take the sting out of hard and lonely. It doesn’t always make it easy, but knowing that it is right is so paramount when the tough moments come, as they always do.
the RIGHT YOUR Path
I’ve been studying the works of Joseph Campbell recently, and penciling out a book idea on applying his well known “Hero’s Journey” transformational adventure to the transformational adventure of the mother’s journey. It’s been an exciting study, and fun to begin putting ideas on paper (or screen actually). One of his quotes struck me today as it pertains to the topic of finding and pursuing the right path. He wrote:
“If you can see your path laid out in front of you step by step, you know it’s not your path. Your OWN path you make with every step you take. That’s why it’s YOUR path.” – Joseph Campbell
So it may not be the best option to try and find THE right path through motherhood and womanhood. We need to find OUR path… and forge our very own trail that is OUR most purposeful trailblazing experience through the wilderness of life. We’ve got to carve out the next step, one after another, while simultaneously keeping our eye on our north star, making sure that our compass is aligned with our faith and that we are plugged into the real source of all light and truth. If those dynamics are all aligned then no matter how hard our trail blazing may be, we can have confidence that the passion and persistence we are putting into each step further on OUR path is a wonderful triumph of progress.
Are you trying to follow someone else’s path? Are you trying to find the “right” path? Or are you brave enough to ask the hard questions to discover YOUR path that can only be cut through the wilderness of life by YOU and you alone? Each of us has an important work to do in this life and I believe that it’s important for us to discover that personal ministry, mission or work that is OUR PATH.
So as I landed in Oakland and headed to my Airbnb to be ready to start this tech accelerator and meeting with investors in Silicon Valley, trying to be brave and bold and courageous, yet really feeling lonely and missing my sweet adorable Brielle, I had to remind myself… “You are on YOUR right path. You know it and you know God knows it.” I’ll miss 4 days of “I love you”s from Brielle, but she is surrounded by “I love you”s from her big family and many adoring loving fans and helpers. I had to remind myself that I serve my children and lead well in my family not only in homeschooling, homemaking, guiding and training, loving and cuddling, but in exemplifying the correct pattern of pursuing MY right path with persistence, perseverance and as much passion for my work as I am passionate about being a mother.
TRUE BELONGING (According to Brene Brown)
I often don’t feel like I really fit in anywhere. I don’t fit in the entrepreneurial world as a homeschooling mama of 8 kids. I don’t really fit in well with the stay at home moms who have all of their time free to devote to home and family. I really don’t feel like I fit into the tech founder startup scene in Utah’s Silicon Slopes. (I pitched last week to a room full of 25 men, most 50 and over. I was the only woman in the room—definitely didn’t feel a strong “fitting in” there that day.) And so I have a certain loneliness that Brene helped me to rethink today as I read her wise words about “true belonging.” She wrote:
“True belonging is the spiritual practice of believing in and belonging to yourself so deeply that you can share your most authentic self with the world and find sacredness in both being a part of something and standing alone in the wilderness. True belonging doesn’t require you to CHANGE who you are; it requires you to BE who you are.” – Brene Brown
So with that inspiration, I would add a reminder to myself that pursuing MY right path can only be done when I am willing to “share my most authentic self with the world.” When I’m coming from that place of honesty and vulnerability, it doesn’t matter so much if I fit in here or there. I can belong everywhere… TRUE BELONGING…. sharing my authentic self while pursuing MY path.