Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Motherhood Matters

Throughout my pregnancy, I imagined having time on my hands while raising my baby. I’d get stuff done while he napped. “What was the big deal about breastfeeding?” I thought, “Surely I could work on other things while he nurses. I could do sit-down things like reading, or computer stuff, or sewing.” I saw how busy my sister was with her newborn but I was sure that wouldn’t be me. I had spent years multi-tasking, running a theatre company, working a day job. The only thing on my plate now was being a full-time mother. The hardest part would be figuring out how to spend all the extra time I’d have—“but, wait,” I thought, “I’ll have my PhD work, that’ll make it so I’m not so bored during the down times.”

Oh, Hubris, why you gotta play me like that?

The other day as I went through the daily emotional roller coaster of ‘tearfully joyful’ to ‘dream-crushingly overwhelmed,’ struggling to get things done around the house while trying to be singularly present for this incredible new person, I had a horrific self-realization:

I’ve spent most of my life under-estimating and under-valuing the work of child rearing—It’s no wonder I have a less than enthusiastic attitude toward it.

I have an incredible friend with a large brood of wonderful children. She has been raising them as a stay-at-home Mother for the past thirteen years. For her, I’ve only ever had words of admiration and awe for the countless hours of self-sacrifice, love, and energy she’s given to her work. I’ve agreed with her that she is doing the most Important job on earth. But looking back, I didn’t really believe that. I used to believe the Important work was that of Art and Commerce and Medicine and World Peace. Humbled by the firsthand experience of being a Mother, I’ve finally caught on that good Mothering is the foundation upon which Art and Commerce and Medicine and World Peace stand. I reckon that anyone who’s ever had a spouse, a boss, a partner, a co-worker, a friend, or an appointment at the DMV will testify to the unparalleled Importance of a Mother’s work.

Acknowledging that I’d spent so much of my life believing anything otherwise was a first step in adjusting my perspective. I’m working on letting go now of the subtle resistance I’ve had toward this matter-ful work. I relish the beauty, the play, and the blessedness of mommy-hood, but I’ve been shamefully guilty of sighing through the burdensome bits, wishing I could be doing something more Important (as if that existed.) I’m now interested in approaching parenthood as a holistic, dynamic thing and managing the burdensome moments as I would those in any Important project that I love and want to see flourish:

By cherishing the Process.

Just today, I looked down at my five-month-old son, naked on the changing table, and wondered how soon I could start potty training him. He looked back at me with the most beautifully open smile I have ever seen and a magical voice from the purest place in my heart asked, “What’s your hurry?”


  1. AMEN!!!!
    Congratulations to you for catching yourself in the act and for choosing to be stay connected to the present beauty that is rather than the future beauty that might be.