Someone once asked me to summarize motherhood into a four minute spiel. I had a small panic attack over how to cram such an all-consuming topic into a crunched time period. Then I thought, “How many things have I learned to do in under five minutes since having children?” A few examples that come to mind are:
- Eat a meal
- Change my clothes and the clothes of up to two kids (the 3rd kicks me into the 6-8 minute bracket)
- Unload a suburban full of groceries
- Catch up with a girlfriend in the parking lot at pick-up time (we talk really fast and in sentence fragments)
- Sync calendars with my husband
- Fold a load of laundry
Thinking of those examples lead me to muse on all the changes I’ve undergone as a mom, including the expansion of my verbal repertoire. I get to say things like:
- Don’t lick that
- Stop poking your sister
- Put it down
- No, you may not touch that
- We are not buying a chicken/cat/hamster/lizard/miniature horse
- I heard that
- That’s not an option
- Why did you hit him/her?
- Because it is
- Don’t argue with me
- Don’t provoke your brother
- There are no monsters in there
- You have to wear clothes when we have company
- How did that get on the roof?
- Whatever you are doing that’s making her make that noise has to stop…NOW
My skill set has changed, as I’ve gained in some areas and lost in others. I have lightning fast reflexes for choking babies or pool-bound toddlers, yet ridiculously slow recall for names of objects or people (often my own children). I can stop an escaping child with one foot, open any food package while driving and catch vomit with my bare hands – often in a 10 minute time frame. I can recognize my child’s cry or laughter from across a crowded room or down the hallway, but lose my keys while holding them. I can work up a veritable manic level of excitement for a new word, first steps, a spoonful of peas, bodily waste that actually makes it into the toilet, a dance recital or a basketball game….but may not have the energy to brush my hair on any given day. I am alternately an idiot or a genius, depending on the day and the age of the child with whom I am dealing. I have experienced the exponential growth of my hips as well as my heart.
Motherhood is generally undignified. This starts in the birthing room and goes downhill from there. I can’t count the number of times I have uttered the phrase, “My life is solid glamour”, usually while wiping up a substance of questionable origin that is on the floor, countertop, my shirt or some part of a child’s anatomy.
I am often exhausted, exasperated, overwhelmed and mildly shell-shocked. No one prepares you for all of this. Had they tried, we wouldn’t believe them. Because the whole experience is so far outside the realm of any other phenomenon. The role of Mother was created deliberately and with divine purpose. Even Jesus had a mother – a human woman who was responsible for carrying and birthing him, for feeding and nurturing him. She held him and rocked him and kissed his face – because for the time allotted, he was her baby….her first born son. Just as for the time allotted, my children are my babies, placed in my life and my arms to care for during their time on Earth.
God chose me, flaws and all, to be Mother to three of His most beloved creations. I’m here to fulfill that role, to love them, to nurture them, to rise to the challenge as best I can and shape their lives by showing them the way to Him.
God chose every mother on Earth. Acknowledging the mother God gave you, and taking some time to remember her impact on your life is a calling we all have. She’s human, with all the labels and restrictions that entails, so there is a time to thank her and love her and, perhaps, to forgive her if that’s what is needed.
I think every mother, if she is honest, will agree with me when I say that this is not what we signed up for. It’s so much more. It exhilarates and devastates me in turns. Some days, I crawl into bed weighed by the thought, “I was a really bad mom today”. I hate those days. They break my heart. Yet, I know, tomorrow is a new day. And, in the nature of children and the people in our lives who love us, my kids will allow me a clean slate. I’ll get up, start over, and try again. I’ll do my best to show them how amazing they are, how I love them beyond the telling, and how helping them grow and flourish and outdo me in every possible way is my life’s work. My primary goal is to have the days where that shines through so far outweigh the days where I fail, that my kids don’t even notice (or clearly remember) all the times I bungle it. I pray that my fierce, overflowing, joy-filled love for them shines so brightly that it dims out the dings and dents we acquire along the way.
Matthew 7:11 says, “If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask Him!” (NIV)
I feel so blessed to participate in the closest glimpse to our Savior’s love for us we can experience in this lifetime. I feel relieved, because He knows my limitations. He knows I am not always going to get it right. Yet, He trusts me to do this anyway. He has given me the chance and the role of a lifetime. I like to think it’s because love covers a multitude of sins and shortcomings. And despite all my other issues and deficits, I definitely have enough of that to go around.
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