Mother Day Reflection

The post below from Julie at Brave Writer, is wonderful and honest.   She speaks about the real joy of motherhood.  There is truly no other career I would want to do, not even for all the money or excitement in the world.

Honestly, there are careers I would love to try, but on a weekend warrior kind of way.  I would love to be Bear Grylls and live off the land in some remote location… for a weekend (OK, I wouldn’t drink urine, but otherwise I would love to have some of his roasted snake, raw fish, make my own snares and traps, eat exotic weed tea, and sleep in a makeshift tree house, made from and in a tree).  I would love to be Andrew Zimern from Bizarre Foods… for several weekends (I would love to try all the exotic foods he does.  Yes, I would try tarantula or armadillo or any other, not your typical American, ingredient).  I would have loved to have been Steve Irwin’s best croc catching pal… for a few weekends (Eternal rest, grant unto him, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon him.  May he rest in peace.  Amen.).  I would love to be a cast member in charge of ensuring a magical visit to Disney World’s Magic Kingdom for everyone who comes through those spine tingling gates.. for a few weekends.  I would love to travel the country speaking at huge conferences surrounded by people who through the Lord have come home to the Church with the help of something I said, did, or wrote.

None of these dream jobs hold a candle to the time spent, to the resources shared, to the energy given while living my vocation as Patrick’s wife and the product of that vocation, Mom to Aubrey, Joshua, and Max.  I am living a fantasy life (even on the days it feels like a nightmare :-P ).  Dear Lord thank you for placing me in such a place as to have all my dreams come true.  Aurora aka Briar Rose aka Sleeping Beauty eat your heart out my Prince is real and he loves me for real (for bigger, for older, in silliness and in health).

Through my life as Mom all my above dream jobs are a reality.  I have slept under the stars after counting shooting stars with my kids.  I have tasted weird and exotic foods traveling to… Ft. Lauderdale, Florida for a “Bugs” exhibit where there was a tasting presentation with chocolate covered ants, meal worms and crickets.  I have caught and released huge yellow rat snakes with my children to protect our little chickens.  I have opened the world of Fantasy up for my children through Tolkien and CS Lewis.  I have given my children magical fun visiting my childhood love, Disney World.   I have, through homeschooling, had the opportunity to share my faith, to inspire my children in their faith by the things I have said done and written.  I have also had the opportunity to teach others about Christ and the freedom found in His Church through Religious Education, RCIA, Baptism Preparation, and CUF presentations.  Why would I ever want to settle for one career, I love living them all.  Enjoy your visit with Julie below at her blog Brave Writer.

In April of 2009, Oprah featured an episode on mothering that ran so counter to my personal experience, I felt the need to write about how I understood mothering. Today, as we celebrate our mothers and are thankful for the chance to be mothers, I share it again with you. (The original posting of this blog entry yielded 73 comments! Clearly the most popular blog entry in our history.)

From April 27, 2009

Oprah featured moms on her show a couple weeks ago. The two “experts” who “wrote the book” were bubbly, sharp, blond business-type women who wore chic outfits that had never seen spit up or spaghetti sauce stains. They rallied the audience into a frenzy of confessions about motherhood which variously decried the hardships of this “first order of creation” occupations.

“I hate the fluids of babies: pee, spit up, spilt milk, snot.”

“I cried the day I drove to the car dealership to buy a mini-van.”

“There were days I wanted to ’send them back to the hell from whence they came’.”

On and on the tales of woe pored from the mouths of devoted parents. Video clips of small kids on bikes, disastrous laundry rooms, “stuffed to the gills” cars with seats and sippy cups floated by, making one wonder why anyone would sign up for the task of mothering, let alone sustain it for decades. Moms confessed things, too, like the one who said she didn’t want to wake the sleeping baby by stopping the car for a potty break, but she needed to pee so badly, she took a Pampers diaper, stuck it between her legs and let it “go” as she drove. Yeah, I thought that was way more information than I needed to know about her, too.

There was a surprising lack of joy represented in the discussion of mothering. Mostly being a mom was held up as the hardest job on earth, the most demanding, the most self-sacrificing, the most misunderstood and overlooked work on the planet. A kind of shared martyrdom, underdog status united everyone and Oprah, never having mothered anyone, had to declare that indeed, they were right. Mothering equalled sainthood (which we all know implies burning at the stake and smiling through it!).

With my kids in the room, listening to the pain of childbirth and engorged breasts, the relentlessness of little voices, the demandingness of the small child’s need for food, sleep and comfort, the annihilation of a woman’s identity and sense of self, I couldn’t take it any more. After all, far from being the hardest job in the world, mothering has been the happiest, most satisfying, life-giving, joyful, rewarding, fulfilling and (dare I admit it?) easiest job I’ve ever had. Oh sure, the hours suck, there are anguishes deeper than the ocean, there are seasons (years!) of such utter exhaustion you can’t imagine ever being rested again… but all those discomforts are easily and unequivocally overturned by my children, themselves.

I punched pause on the DVR to set the record straight:

“Being your mother has been the single greatest joy and privilege of my life: not a burden, not a perennial unrelenting source of emotional and physical agony, not the ‘hardest job in the world’, not the knee-capping blow to my ‘adult individuality’ nor has it been the thankless, under-appreciated, most overlooked profession these mothers would have you believe. In fact, my sense of personhood, identity and self-knowledge has grown more through mothering than any business I’ve started, any degree I’ve earned, any relationship I’ve pursued. I thank YOU for being the best people to ever happen to me.”

Then I spewed in bullet style the privileges and unique joys that came with mothering them (all five of them, each one popping into my life like a fresh daisy, every two years for 10 years).

Cuddling: Being your mom means I got to have someone to cuddle non-stop for 12 years while sleeping with at least one of you at a time, nursing you, carrying you, holding you, helping you in and out of car seats, and backpacking you.

Sleeping together: There is nothing more divine than a baby who falls asleep on your chest while you fall asleep and the whole world stops while mother and tiny child become fused as one content, quiet, shared being. No meditation, yoga, prayer circle, private retreat has ever come close to providing me with the depth of peace, pleasure and abiding hope that sleeping with a baby has given me.

Playing: Board games and hopscotch, dress-ups, face paint, finger paint, walks in the woods, trips to the zoo, picking up bugs, rolling down hills, blowing bubbles, eating too many cookies, watching Arthur on PBS, rewatching Disney movies, cards, chasing a dog in the backyard, trampoline jumping, creek splashing, snowman building, skiing, middle of the night slumber parties, bike rides, soccer in the backyard, soccer on the official fields, ultimate frisbee… What adult gets to do any of this on his or her 9-5 job? Talk about luxury!

Conversation: Oh it starts off good – Why do bubbles float? How did I get red hair? Why doesn’t Santa Claus visit Moroccans, too? But boy does it keep getting better!? I’ve learned about human rights, veganism, Role Playing Games, Shakespeare, Klingon, fashion, exercise, lacrosse, birds, fantasy novels, conspiracy theories, atheism, feminism, linguistics, alternative monetary systems for world peace (seriously!) and more by talking to my kids.

Mothering is the job that means taking the dog and kids for a walk in the woods is on task. It’s the one where teatimes and picnics are considered achievements worth trumpeting to friends and family. It’s the job where even on bad days, someone tells you “Hey, I love you Mom” and then hugs you so tightly, you believe it.

There is no comparison to the jobs I’ve had in business and writing. Sure, affirmation and personal achievement are nice… but they are nothing like the bond that comes from the devotion of loving people who live every day looking for you to see them for who they are. I’ve found that the easiest thing in the world is to love my kids. All it takes is entering into their lives on their terms and giving all I’ve got. I get it all back and more.

Yes, there have been nights where I cried myself to sleep over a non-stop crying toddler or a teenager’s emotional pain. There are times when I feel out of control and invisible and fearful for my child’s future or welfare. But the rewards of mothering so far outweigh any of its challenges, I can’t relate to the repeated refrains of “how hard I have it” simply because I chose to have five kids. Instead, I just feel perennially lucky that my lifestyle has included such richness, tenderness and connection to immortality through my children.

I think it’s time we blew the whistle. Mothering isn’t a job. It’s a privilege.

This entry was posted on Sunday, May 8th, 2011 at 3:09 pm and is filed under Brave Writer PhilosophyHomeschool AdviceOn Being a Mother. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

This entry was posted in Aubrey, Family, Joshua, Max, Patrick, Prayer, Sussette, Travel. Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Mother Day Reflection

  1. Jessica says:

    Very motivating especially with a educating a certain young man right now…

  2. Jessica says:

    ya need to remove one of the captcha’s so that it does not frustrate people into not commenting.

  3. goodman's girl says:

    That was so well-written! I hope she sent it to Oprah, along with a note explaining how offensive her show was. :) It’s so heart-melting to hear women gush over their love of thier vocation of motherhood.
    (Uh-oh…FB usage awareness moment…I was looking for the “like” button for Jessica’s comment. HAHA!)

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