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Motherhood – Meaningless Or Meaningful?
I knew I had stretched my time too long from my 3 and 6 year old when I heard my little one screaming about getting hurt and my older one’s voice was scolding and punishing. As I made the long trip up the stairs to face the commotion, I could feel my blood boiling with frustration and anger, not at them, really, but at myself.
I was so spoiled to have a few hours every morning to myself to write, read and work with clients; the summer days took away from me these quiet hours. I took a deep breath and came up with my approach game plan.
This would not be a time for me to explain rules or expectations. They needed me to act, to help redirect them. I felt myself on every level digging deep for patience and self-control as I stood before them – one screaming with tears streaking his face in pain: “It hurts!” and the other with a look of rage on his face for being pushed away too much.
I calmly removed the offending item from their desires, which only inspired my oldest to try to get it back. (Yay! Hot button for mom pushed over and over again). I remained calm and quickly detached myself from occupying her. I gently put my hands on her shoulders, knelt at her eye level and spoke softly: “It’s time for us to do something together; I’m also feeling frustrated and really need your help and cooperation so that we can continue our day. .”
Without yelling or anger from me, her resistance surprisingly fell away. I grabbed the wounded man, kissed him – he was as good as new. My anxiety began to subside and I felt victorious in talking about a very difficult moment that I approached with the clarity and confidence that I talk about so often with my clients and workshops. It always shocks me how much easier parenting becomes when I do it right. The anticipation and the work itself is incredibly hard for me to muster, but the result and side effects always blow me away.
It’s parenting in these difficult moments that I remember how wonderful it was just to get up every morning, shower, put on makeup and get dressed, eat a leisurely breakfast and drive, listen to my CDs of Ani DiFranco or Dar Williams, arrive. at work to colleagues who respected me. Wow! Those were days when I heard often how much I was appreciated, how my work mattered and was done with excellence. How loud those acknowledgments sound to me in the silence that now exists in my role as a mom.
Interestingly, when I got pregnant, I couldn’t wait to give it all up. I was counting down the days until I could be home full time with my baby, focus on homemaking and create the family life I always wanted. But switching from the world of womanhood to motherhood was not the easy transition I thought it would be. I remember bringing my first baby home and sobbing, feeling overwhelmed by the task of being her mom and the expectations I had of myself to know what she would need.
After recovering from a surprise C-Section, both physically and emotionally, I began to calm my fears, take each day as it came, embrace my new role. It surprised me and made me feel more amazing than anything I had ever achieved when I learned what she needed and when. It was so right to be with her, to be the one who gave her nourishment and comfort. I believe it was my strong value of mothering that kept me on task.
My own mother helped shape my opinion about full-time motherhood. As a child I felt so safe, so loved and complete in my mother’s presence. My mom didn’t get praise and daily praise for her duties and I know she often felt overwhelmed with five kids. If she had the opportunity to go to college and pursue her personal goals, she might have been more anxious at home.
I can only say that as one of her children she nurtured and cared for, how grateful I am, how centered and balanced I feel, for her devotion and daily joy that she shared with me as my mom.
Motherhood is not a job that will ever bring us the same pleasure that an outside career once did. Being at home is not something we should see as a lifelong sentence. It doesn’t even have to mean that we give up our drive and ambition for a career. Thinking outside the box can be the creative solution so many mothers crave.
Women today have reached educational and professional heights that our mothers and grandmothers may not have even dreamed of. As the first educators of our children, what a boon it is for us to bring our knowledge and understanding to the spiritual task of parenting! How sad it is that our society has led us to believe that our education must take us further away from children and our families.
Today, careers do not have to be pursued outside the home. More and more women are discovering the unique joy of starting their own business, or getting creative with their employers to work from home, share work, and work with other mothers to channel their mental energies and skills productively while still being the primary caregiver of theirs. young children
Children need their mothers the most during the first 5 years. The role of the mother is to nurture the character of their child. Children are naturally oriented towards their mother. My youngest child often asks me, “How did God make your skin so soft and your voice so kind, Mom?” The qualities of the feminine are not exclusive to women, but they are more easily strengthened, despite the low value that our culture has placed on them.
If the feminist movement truly championed women and our unique characters, we would honor our virtues of caring, compassion, creativity, gentleness, kindness, love, peace, service, and wisdom. We would not have decided that the best woman was going to become a man. We would respect breastfeeding, feeding and guidance of our young children and it would be obvious and certain that a mother’s personal care is irreplaceable. We would pursue our educational goals with the thought of being our child’s first teacher in the early years. We would have systems that financially allow women to be able to be at home with their little ones, not take them away from them.
Unfortunately, women themselves no longer value the role of caregiving. Caring is not a material task, so many women have decided that it is worthless, even humiliating. It does not receive monetary compensation, unless you work in a nursery or preschool and we are all aware of society’s poor opinion of that profession and the low expectations we have placed on the qualifications to do such “easy, mindless work.”
A mother is a task of the spirit. It’s not something you master overnight. It begins at conception and ends when you take your last breath. It is a lifelong journey of personal transformation. There is great meaning and purpose in it for the mother who embraces it, finds ways to express herself in it, and essentially, believes that true happiness is achieved through the spiritual behavior it requires.
Look at these years with your young children as a gift to you. A gift to have the time to slow down, to focus on the relationship with these most precious beings in your life, to find the beauty in homemaking – the idea of creating a home that you enjoy with your family. Fill your home with rhythm, baking smells and laughter. Protect yourself from allowing society’s judgment and expectations to taint and jade you from the temptation to focus on your career while you have babies, toddlers and preschoolers at home.
If the culture succeeds, they rob you of the experience of your little ones throughout the day, to be the one who cheers their heart, the one who comforts, and the one who instills in them their virtues. It’s not forever. Babies, toddlers, preschoolers – they grow up too fast. There are ways to maintain your career, nurture your skills, keep your mental faculties energized during these early years; be creative!
There is no other job in the world more noble than motherhood, there simply isn’t.
I want to thank Shara, Jennifer and Mary for their inspiration and faith in sharing their struggle to find meaning in motherhood with me. To subscribe to my bi-monthly magazine and receive your Free Parenting Kit, be sure to visit http://www.noblemother.com
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