In my kitchen sits a soup pot. It’s great for when I make soups, which if I’m being honest is only a few times a year nowadays. Yet this huge pot lives on the back burner of the stove where I see it every day. Perhaps I’m being philosophical, or more likely I’m just tired, but this innocuous kitchen item has made me ponder a lot about who I am and where I am in life. 

Once upon a time this pot fit nice and snug in the bottom cabinet where it had lived since we moved into our home. It was used frequently for new recipes and old favorites. It had a distinct purpose. 

As time went on, more pots, pans, and baking dishes made their way into the cabinet. Soon the soup pot didn’t fit anymore. As hard as I tried to squeeze it into other cabinets, it just peeked awkwardly out of a door that couldn’t quite close due to all the other kitchen items stuffed inside. With life becoming increasingly busier, I didn’t even have the time to use it as much as I once did. It sat displaced and neglected.

That’s what motherhood did to me.

There was a point in my life when everything felt neat and orderly and I knew my place in the world. Then literally overnight, everything felt discombobulated and I didn’t know where I, as a person, fit in.

Professionally, I had stepped away from my career to stay at home with our son while I started a new position working remotely. I went from feeling confident and in control of my day-to-day to being given new tasks—not to mention a new life—that I had to learn and adjust to. I tried my best to maintain control over everything but perpetually felt as though life was overflowing. I could never quite fit everything in, no matter how hard I tried.

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Just as I kept moving the pot around to figure out where it would fit, I kept trying to figure out my own spot in life. I never intended to be a stay-at-home mom, yet thanks to life circumstances I found myself navigating waters I didn’t anticipate being in. While I still had my own personal ambitions, there never seemed to be enough time to pursue them. Between taking care of a child, working from home, and keeping the house running, I truly began to wonder where my place was in my own world.

There are times when I glance at the soup pot and remember the purpose for which it was designed: creating stews, soups, and stock. Yet it sits basically unused for what it’s been called to do, instead serving functions it never thought it would: acting as a resting spot for the hot pan that’s been pulled out of the oven; holding the bag of potatoes no one knows what to do with; being moved off to the side because it’s in the way. 

There are moments when I catch a glimpse of myself in the mirror and remember who I was prior to parenthood, someone who felt accomplished both professionally and personally. It’s easy to question my purpose when at the end of the day my biggest accomplishments amount to getting caught up on laundry and catching my son before he puts a handful of rocks in his mouth. While I willingly made the decision to put my talents on the back burner, I didn’t truly appreciate how long it would be before I would be able to bring them to the forefront again. 

It’s also oddly fitting how the pot bears a resemblance to how I look and feel.

There are paint drippings that color the side of the pot from when we repainted our cabinets mirroring the random stains that find their way on my clothes after a day spent with a toddler. The small dents and dings it has endured are reflected in the dark circles that have settled under my eyes as night approaches. Let’s be honest, neither the pot nor I look as lustrous as we once did. Perhaps one day we will both get a well-deserved polish and shine.

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But while the soup pot has remained fundamentally unchanged, the past few years have forever altered who I am. I have grown in ways I didn’t even realize I needed to, and have been challenged to become a better person, not only for my family but also for myself. I’ve been granted the opportunity to see the world in a completely new way and have come to the realization that God has created me for a purpose bigger than I could ever have dreamed of. All the years I felt lost were actually preparing me for something more. 

So for now I will be keeping the soup pot where it is, knowing that eventually it will be used for its designed purpose once again. As for me, I’m able to see now what I had believed my designed purpose was before becoming a mother was only a glimpse into who I am fully capable of being. While I don’t know exactly what the future has in store for me, I’m finally at a point where I am excited to see what I can cook up.

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Laura Niebauer Palmer

Laura lives in TX with her husband and son. She has written for Chicken Soup For The Soul, Scary Mommy and The Penny Hoarder and is working on her first children's book.

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