An Open Letter to Oprah: Motherhood is Not An Aside

oprah!, 01//07/08.
oprah!, 01//07/08.

Dear Oprah Winfrey,

This weekend I was moved, inspired and challenged by your "The Life You Want Weekend" in Washington D.C. Your two-day event more than lived up to its expectations and was exactly what I needed. For this, I humbly thank you.

I felt blessed to be in the presence of greatness and surrounded by an energy of love and hope. My heart was open and each of your speakers filled me with vibrancy and inspiration. I am especially filled with gratitude because I walked away from this weekend understanding EXACTLY the direction I need to take my life and my writing.

Ironically though, this understanding is the direct result of NOT hearing what I wanted and perhaps needed to hear from your trail blazers. Your speakers spoke to so many parts of my heart and yet somewhat disappointingly I did not hear from a woman who is in the throes of motherhood about what it takes to reach that place of self-discovery while also choosing a life with children. This letter is not meant to be a criticism, because you are someone I truly admire and respect. I just need to share my observation and impart my truth. A truth you helped me articulate.

For years, I have felt it. An inexplicable feeling and longing for more. A restlessness that whispered to me in dreams. An understanding that I have a gift to share.

This is the voice that pushed me to start writing again. A voice that wants more for me. A voice that asks me to write the book that is dangling in the periphery of my mind. But I am constantly in battle with this voice. Fear and doubt cloud the clarity of my calling. I keep getting in my own way. For some reason, I refuse to sit down and allow the words to flow from my soul onto the screen - in part because I can't see the path. And starting a journey without a clear road is terrifying.

This weekend, I saw a glimpse of my road. I finally realize what every choice and experience in my life has been about. I am supposed to help mothers like me understand that motherhood IS a transformative journey that can help us become who we are meant to be. Having children is not a cumbrance to this process. Motherhood is not the job you have to wade through in order to embark on the discovery of your glory. Motherhood is not the time you simply spend tucking your dreams into a coffee can in the back of your closet.

Motherhood IS the gift that can be the pathway to your true self.

I do not mean to imply that motherhood is a requirement for enlightenment any more than you or Elizabeth Gilbert (one of my personal heroes) mean to imply that your journeys of enlightenment were only possible by not having children. Women have many choices and having children is not the only reason for our existence. I respect this and will always fight for the right for women to have complete authority over their own bodies and lives.

For those of us, however, who make the choice to have children -- or find ourselves about to bring a child into the world unexpectedly as I did at 21 years old -- I have a message. A message I unfortunately did not hear from any of your speakers. A message that should be shouted and repeated over and over again to all mothers who are elbow deep in the arduous and sometimes muddied task of mothering. The message is this:

Motherhood is not a final destination, but is instead intrinsic to YOUR journey toward self-discovery, humility, creativity, self-awareness and enlightenment.

Children are the angels -- as shared by Iyanla Vanzant -- whose hands mothers AND fathers must hold. Children are a huge part of our glory. Motherhood is holy -- even if it doesn't always feel this way during late night feedings or during the rebellious teen years. We are blessed to witness our children's first breath and one day they may be the ones by our side as we take our last.

Our children carry our legacy within their souls. I witnessed this the day I was privileged to sit with my mother and her sister as they held their mother's hands - my grandmother's hands -- as she slowly and gracefully exited this world with her final psuché, which as I learned this weekend from the incredible Rob Bell is one word that means both breath and soul in Greek.

I understand and connect with everything you, Elizabeth Gilbert, Rob Bell and Iyanla Vanzant shared during your amazing weekend, but, I also know that anyone in the audience who is a mother (and I'm assuming there are many) could benefit from hearing this important message too. Their journey of motherhood is not an aside. It is part of their wholeness. It is part of the process and mothers should understand that it is possible to hear and follow a calling while simultaneously raising babies. Motherhood cannot fit into a single piece of a pie chart. To the child they raise, they will be always be - even beyond death - a mother. And embracing this important role in their own life is what will help them find the glory they were meant to find in the first place.

Thank you for an incredible weekend and for introducing me to the concept of Sunrise Faith. I love the idea of a new and better chance with each sunrise. I will not only embrace this philosophy in my own life, but will impart this wisdom to all four of my children --- creating a new legacy for their lives.

With Light, Love and Motherhood,

Nicole Dash

Nicole Dash is a writer, blogger, and business owner who lives outside Washington DC with her husband and four children. Nicole writes about life, family and finding herself amid the chaos on her heartfelt blog Tiny Steps Mommy. Please subscribe to her blog to join her in this journey.