My own nodding was especially vigorous in this paragraph:
“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 have 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.”
Long ago, I wrote 40 Reasons to Have Kids, in response to a woman who had written 40 Reasons Not to Have Kids (and because Karen tipped me off to it). I’m pretty sure I could write a new list of 40, and another one tomorrow, and another one. Yeah, some of it would be tongue-in-cheek, but most of it would be filled with the little things I’d like to remember, the moments of joy even in the midst of the trial.
Motherhood isn’t easy. In the mainstream, motherhood is held as a sort of crutch we can choose, as a necessary evil, as something that is only negative. I can’t agree with that, though I’ve had my fair share of bad days and tough nights. What do we miss when we only focus on the smell of spit-up and the stain of leaky diapers? How do we cheat ourselves — and our children — when we see the sleepless nights instead of the daytime naps? When will they ever be little again? Or big, for that matter?
Yes, we have to be realistic. But calling our kids the biggest burden, forgetting that they are, in fact, gifts of the highest order, is one of the greatest injustices we do to all of society. Turning motherhood into a prison, whether we do it only in our own minds or in the protected company of a talk show, is a lie.
It’s not easy. But I remember being told as a kid that nothing worth having was easy.
Without those little people in our lives, there’s really no hope in the world. That seems to be the direction the world is going, but it doesn’t have to be that way. We have a choice every day: we can see our vocation as mothers as a hindrance to our “real” lives, or we can embrace it, with all its smelly gooey ickiness, and pray for the strength to be more the way God wants us to be. It’s our choice. Every single day.