Thursday, June 27, 2013

Sanctifying Motherhood

Having a larger than average family, I'm often told I must have super-human patience, or be brave beyond normal standards.  I'm stopped in the grocery store with "How do you do it?" questions and I stand there with my mouth open and closing, wondering how much truth is required in the answer.  Most of the time, I just smile and laugh it off - these strangers aren't really looking for a monologue on how I make it through each day.  But if someone truly asked, came to me and really wanted to know, well, maybe then I could tell the complete truth.  That  I'm not a naturally nurturing person.  It is something I have had to work on, over the years - a quality that has been brought out of me by force.  In motherhood, a requirement.  In mothering a larger than average brood?  A daily exercise in humility and self sacrifice.

I wish I could say I am one of those moms who leaps out of bed with nothing but concern when a child calls her name in the night.  The truth is, my first thoughts are often "are you serious!?" and I need to make an effort to rouse my slumbering compassion before I respond.  Having 6 kids doesn't meant that I relish the extra four loads of laundry necessary after a night up with sick kids.  It just means that I submit to my will being bent, again and again, in the service of others.  Sometimes?  With a fair bit of grumbling and "it's not fair"-ing.

Last night, when Peter vomited all over my feet while making dinner?  It was hard to find.  And, again, later, when I had settled in with a knitting project (lace, no less, charts and all!), just to hear the tell-tale sound of Jonah, on the second bunk and for the second time being sick over two sets of sheets?  Practically non-existent.

This is how mothering sanctifies.  Not by bathing me a glow of maternal bliss, and not by coming easily or without a fight.  Mothering sanctifies by bringing me to my knees every day and demanding I give all.  Sometimes I kick and scream.  Sometimes I fight it.  But ultimately, I know that motherhood isn't and never could be a hobby, something to add to the bucket list.  Those who approach it in this manner will only come away confused and disenchanted.  In a way, it's not about you.  In another way, it is.  In giving yourself away, you become more than you ever were before.  In severing selfishness and setting aside your own interests, your life touches more, reaching through those you care for and multiplying the blessing.

Even when you don't want to.

So you sigh, take a moment, and then respond.  "Oh honey, I'm so sorry!  Here, let's get in the tub."  Another load of laundry carried down to the washer at 3 am.  Another feverish child comforted in his mother's arms.  Struggling to keep your eyes open, fighting back the thoughts of "I reallllllly don't want to be doing this right now..."

 I can feel something inside me working.  Nurturing my little one, even though I'd rather be fast asleep, knowing full well the next morning brings with it a whole slew of demands - despite myselfMotherhood sanctifies.  And somehow, I come away blessed.

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  1. Thank you for writing this, just the encouragement and reminders I needed today! Praying this sickness passes quickly for your precious family!

  2. Thank you for your honesty. Motherhood is hard work if you're doing it well and it's nice to have that side of it outed now and then. I'll think of you and your sick children today, I hope the vomiting ends soon...

  3. I thought I was the only one...I'm not naturally nurturing either :( Often my "oh wow sweetheart, that's great!" is fake. The compassion in my voice during late night calls is almost non-existent, and I often utter the words "oh you're fine," instead of the better choice of "aw, I'm sorry. are you ok?" Blegh..such a hard truth to swallow. But fake or not, I try. And you're right, it's through this...these hard HARD days, that we are sanctified. Baptism by fire as they say. So true.


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