Thursday, June 30, 2011

Countdown to 30: The real me

{I'm doing a series of answering peoples' questions about me and my life as I count down to my 30th birthday. If you have something you'd like to ask me--anything!--please leave a comment or send me an email. It's not everyday I open myself up to answering any and all random questions, so ask away!}

Today's question comes from Heather--a different Heather from yesterday (and a sweet friend from Denver).  Apparently I've decided to answer questions from people named Heather first.  :)

Is there a life you'd live in an alternate reality? :) Do you think there's "another you" inside your head or do you feel you are living true to the person you really are?

Hmmm.  That's a good question, and now I'm actually going to have to think this through.  :) 

Really my answer would honestly have to be that I do believe I am living true to the person I really am.  No alternate me lurking beneath.  And I think I've always been me, more or less.  Growing up I was very stubborn, independent, and shy.  I knew what I wanted in life, I was happy when I had a close friend or two, I loved to laugh, and I would spend hours with my nose in a book.  That's pretty much who I am today.  :)

As a kid and teenager, my faith was a huge component of my life.  I am not implying that I was perfect or never did anything wrong or always chose to do the right thing and obey God (because I didn't!  I could be a jerk!), but I regularly prayed, believed I needed Jesus, attended church, and read my Bible.  Sometimes God felt distant (more on that in an upcoming post, where I address Candice's juicy questions :) ) but I never strayed too far off the general beaten path in the sense of what I believed, even if I didn't live it perfectly.  (Isn't that the great challenge of life, lining those two things up?)  And while my journey now seems to be leading me towards a more Sacramental, historical faith, I remain true to the same things I've always known.  God loves me.  Jesus died for me.  I want to live for Him in faith and grace.

You're going to laugh, but as a high schooler, I had no interest in the eventual raising of children.  :)  In fact, I used to tease my dear, poor mother that she would never have grandchildren (I'm an only child, thus her only hope), OR that if she did, I would stick them in daycare full-time.  (I'm betting I gave my sweet, adamant-about-being-a-stay-at-home-mom more than a few gray hairs.  I actually remember her telling me if I didn't want kids, I shouldn't get married.  Go Mom!  And, I told you I was a jerk sometimes!) 

And when I entered college I had great aspirations to either be a licensed MFT (Marriage Family Therapist), or a lobbyist on Capitol Hill. 

I've always loved the study of Psychology, thus I majored in it in college.  (I probably get this from my dad, who graduated with a degree in Psychology.  We Perruzzi's are interested in the strange inner-workings of the mind, apparently.)  However, I know enough about myself now to know that I have no desire to be a marriage counselor--not even a little bit!  I think I would eventually snap and just start screaming at people to be nice to one another and to stop getting divorced--not exactly the makings for a successful career in "the helping profession".  :)  I think instead that, if I worked in this field, I would be a counselor helping traumatized children and teens, or those battling addictions.  The marginalized and hurting. 

And I freely admit that the lobbyist thing would be fun.  I loved my Political Science classes in college, I enjoy public speaking, politics is interesting to me in general, and I adore Washington DC.

But the thing is, neither career is particularly compatible with the vocation of marriage.  Because the vocation of marriage, as historically taught by the Catholic Church, generally includes the receiving of children. 

So, while I have various interests, and I can think of a few career paths or alternate lives that might be fun, I know they're not at the core of who God created me to be.  And I believe you can be an intelligent, well-read, strong, passionate woman...who raises her children at home.  I believe you can pursue your interests and the gifts God has given you from right inside your house.  I don't get paid to counsel people, but I've got five children who need my guidance and "unconditional positive regard" on a daily basis.  I don't visit congressmen or push important legislation through the Senate, but I occasionally advocate for the things I'm passionate about and strive to build a good foundation for my children (in age-appropriate ways) when it comes to issues of our day.

And if I hadn't gotten married, and therefore not had children, I would probably have ended up eventually moving to a developing country to do relief work anyway.  I honestly don't think I would have ultimately become a career-type-person making lots of money.  But we are all part of a system where we are instructed to choose a career path--even though you'd actually maybe hate being an MFT.  :)  I'm grateful to my parents who modeled the important things in life for me, and thankfully my threats of not having children (or having them and putting them in daycare while I rode the subway to work with a latte in hand) were all just talk.  :)

Allllll of this to say, I'm simply me.  I am who I am.  These days I feel as if the world is my oyster and quite frankly, life is good.  I have a fabulous husband--my bestest friend--who I have tons in common with.  I have five, soon-to-be seven, wonderful children who do drive me crazy, but really, they are rather amazing people.  I have awesome girlfriends in various places who make me laugh and make me think--a true support system.  I get to spend my days at home learning alongside my children, helping them to know Jesus, and comforting them when life is cruel.  There is a lot of dying to self that happens in motherhood, or at least it should, and God is not content to leave me where I'm at.  It's hard, but I know that ultimately, it's good for me.  And I am falling more and more in love with Jesus and yes, His Church too.  Plus, being an at-home mom and wife, I have lots of time to blog or to read good books with titles like Jesus and the Jewish Roots of the Eucharist.  :)

To use a psychological term from my past, I think I'm decently self-actualized, or at least on the path.  I discover more and more as the days go by who God made me to be, and the joys that come from a life lived in service to Jesus.  I'm finding that life, and more specifically, life with God, is so incredibly rich and full of depth, even when things are hard or less than ideal.  Jesus tells us that we find our life by giving it away.  By becoming less, so that He can be more. 

So it's really not about me at all, and there is some crazy-powerful freedom in knowing that.  Thanks so much for asking!

****All of the above photos were taken on Mother's Day of this year.  At Olive Garden.  Because the Italian restaurant we tried to go to was closed, and so we ended up there.  It may not be in any way similar to, say, what we ate in Rome, but I think their salad and breadsticks kind of rock.  Don't judge.


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