Thomas the Train Syndrome

I have the Thomas the Train syndrome: I have this constant nagging need to be useful. I’m not sure if it is because I have a ridiculous number of years of grad school (5 to be exact) under my belt and have used those 5 expensive years for a total of 15 hrs a week for 10 months before getting pregnant with child number 2 and having to decide whether to be a full time attorney or a no time attorney. Or maybe it is because I still don’t think it is enough to just take care of my kids as a stay at home mom. Or maybe it is an identity thing that I still don’t believe that who I am is good enough without having produced a tangible/deliverable at the end of the day (which in parenting young kids seems virtually impossible–got gum out of Anna’s hair–check; changed 14 diapers–check; helped Eli clean up his spilled water 8 times (he refuses a lid on his cups)–check; helped Sam find socks that feel right, again–check.  Not that these are tangible and for some deliverable but somehow their usefulness does not make me feel useful. Probably because just about anyone could deliver these results and arguably some could also teach their kids Spanish, piano, soccer and ballet at the same time.

Greg doesn’t seem concerned about my usefulness, nor do the four other members of the family: Sam, Anna, Eli and Joy (that is as long as I am providing food they want to eat). My friends aren’t asking me what I’ve accomplished throughout the day. Is God asking me to be useful? Was I created to be productive? The problem with this question is that I was created for relationship not for accomplishments. I was created to be a daughter, not a slave. A slave is useful. A daughter is loved. I love Anna not when she does everything I ask, but when she wakes up in the morning with her hair a mess, or when she does her happy dance, or when she hums while eating her food just like she has since she was six months old. I love Anna when she spontanenously starts handing out coins from her piggy bank to the whole family. I love Anna when she has her grumpy face on and I need to intervene before someone else in the family is whacked on the back. Sure when I ask her to set the table and she does it brings me comfort but it doesn’t make me love her more. Sure she can affect me–but our heart connection is not determined by her usefulness.

So where did I go wrong? Where did I learn the lie that I must earn my keep? Earn the air I breath and the space I take up on this planet? My honest desire is to bring heaven to earth. It isn’t as if I want to slip into a coma and do nothing the rest of my life. But I want to do it from love not for love. I want to do it from joy not for joy. And really I want to pick up Thomas and throw him off his tracks and say that he is fun to watch not because he is useful but because he is a talking blue train who talks to talking red, and green and orange trains. Rest. Play. Have a vacation. Try it–can you be “unuseful” and feel ok? Or are you a production addict. Because detoxing from performing can be harder than detoxing from caffeine. But transitioning from slave to daughter is worth it…because our Daddy is the King and He is Good!

24. January 2013 by Ali Millikan
Categories: Thoughts on Life | 3 comments

Comments (3)

  1. I love these Ali 😉 thanks for sharing.

  2. Such a liberating message, Ali, and such profound wisdom. Thank you!

  3. Ali,
    This is Linda Grundberg, who used to work with Greg at FPCB. I was wondering if I could share your message with some circle ladies. We are studying Galatians this year and your message is spot on for what we are talking about. Linda Grundberg

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