Saturday, May 10, 2008

Motherhood

It's almost Mother's Day--and Pentecost and Isabella's baptism!--and I was inspired by Et Tu?'s reflections on motherhood to jot down some thoughts.

At the park on Saturday in my yuppy, three-coffee-house, nanny-run, beautiful-people, Lexus-ridden city, moms congregate. So do dads. All are eager to share in their children's play, catch up on cell-phone messages, and chat about the "experience" of motherhood. Being a mother of small children--the toddlers and infants--is just that: an "experience" not to be missed. Like traveling to Phuket, climbing Mt. McKinley, trying your hand at Egyptian cooking, the few years of mothering a small child are seen as a brief hiatus, a time to experience being a mom. For most of the moms at my park, this is a welcome but brief pause in the career.

I don't want to be hard on any of these women--many of them waited years to have children and sacrificed some material comforts in order to have this experience. They truly love their children and want to give them everything (this includes admission to the most prestigious pre-schools in Atlanta). I only want to express my profound dissatisfaction with the attitude that having children or mothering is merely an "experience" not to be missed.

These years with my little toddler and infant are not a "pause," nor simply an "experience," nor even a sort of passage into the real fun of having a family. This time is real--not a "break" from my life. It is more real, in fact, than all the years and hours I spent on me.

The years and hours of college--coffee breaks, writing for fun, reading everything I could, exercising when I wanted, hanging out with friends at leisure--they were a preparation for this family life. They had a purpose, and it was to my own and my family's detriment that I wasted any of them.

Now, with the little ones, my life has become more real because it is less about me. In fact, it's not really at all about me anymore. It is what we were created for--to become lesser that our Creator may become greater in us. To treat these years of mothering the little ones as a brief break or a chosen experience would be to miss out on the whole point, trajectory, and end of my entire life. The whole of life should arc and soar towards Less Of Me and More of You.

So, while I do look forward to the time when I'll be able to go out for a run again, I'm not living for that moment. This time is holy and precious and making me what I was meant to be. Let it be.

2 comments:

Melanie B said...

Amen! I've been thinking recently about how motherhood changes you completely... or at least it should. I like the way you explain it, though.

How wonderful that you had a Mother's Day/Pentecost baptism too. I hope yours was as beautiful as ours. Congratulations to your Isabella.

Jessica said...

It all comes down to what defines your life. Somewhere along the line it became a negative thing to call oneself a mother. It was not seen as enough. Many women seek careers so that they will seem "equal" in the eyes of their peers. Other women seek careers because they have bred monsters and need to get away. A select few women are able to have a career outside the home and also maintain the full motherhood status. These women are known as SUPERMOMS!!!