Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Being a mother

A couple of weeks ago, on a particularly strife-filled day with the kids, I exclaimed, "Being a mother is the worst job in the world!"

At least, that's what I hope I said. I am still not certain whether I said "a mother" or "your mother".

When I confessed this to a priest I know well, he raised his eyebrows with a very surprised look on his face.

Yep. It's just something you should never say as a mother, and it's not how I truly feel at all - at least not 99.9 percent of the time. Most of the time I am very grateful that I get to play games with my kids in the morning and afternoon; have spontaneous conversations about important things and feelings during breakfast or on the way to school; goof around, talk in silly voices, and share our weird dreams; and to simply be there, smiling at their small or grand special moments while looking in their lovable, youthful faces.

But being a mother is a very hard job indeed. Here you are, a human with her own many imperfections and weaknesses, and you must raise little humans with their own imperfections and weaknesses. Somehow, they have to turn out more than alright, despite the fact that while raising them to be decent people, you're struggling all the while to be a decent human being yourself.

Sometimes...just sometimes, mind you...it feels humanly impossible to do this job. Like those times when all your children seem to want to do is tattle on each other, threaten each other with broom handles, say biting things to each other, call each other names and argue while doing anything at all together.

And you? Well, you're sick of hearing only a selected part of the story; telling your kids it is never okay to touch another person in a way they don't like; reminding them that family is family, and they should be grateful God blessed them with siblings; and that you will never tolerate them calling each other dumb, stupid or any other adjective that insults someone's dignity or damages their sense of worth.

All that tension and repetition is exhausting.

There are times when I wonder if working parents comprehend just what their children's paid caregivers, teachers or helping grandparents must do all day. All the boo-boos they must fix. All the sleep, nutrition and potty issues they must deal with patiently. All the arguments, temper tantrums and epic battles they must defuse. All the disciplinary challenges among different personalities they must confront effectively. All the repetitive conversations about right and wrong and making good choices.

The continual forming of children.

To be fair, they can probably guess pretty well based on the challenges they face each night, tired from a different sort of work.

Besides, we remind ourselves that the flip side to all that stress is found in the many gifts of the moment: the hilarious or revealing conversations, the laughter, the snuggles, the thank yous and pleases from a well-provided-for child, life in the moment of a child's excited, bashful, mischievous, grateful or grinning face.

Being a mother is a vital job. It's a vocation. A calling. It's essentially asking God for a share in his generative, life-affirming work and professing your dedication to it afresh each day.

It's based on Love. It has to be, or it would indeed seem like one of the most pitiable jobs in the world.

But it's not.

When you wistfully remember the adorable, helpless little creature your child was from the womb and recognize that with the important and consistent help of your flawed but nurturing efforts your child is blossoming and learning to become a kind, helpful, thoughtful and loving person, you realize yet again.

It's the best.


  1. And when those same children grow into decent, honest, productive adults, that is as good as it gets for a mother - or even a dad.

  2. Oh, I could use this reminder daily. Being a mom certainly feels pitiable sometimes, but I love how you worded it - it is a job based in love, and that's what saves it.

    Great post!

    1. Andrea, thank you! I also have to remind myself of the blessings unique to this job daily. We're all in this together!

  3. LOL I forget what I said the other day too but it was something like "Your just being super irritating right now" and then I cringed because I knew it wasn't nice. Being a parent is really hard. I try to remind myself that God, the PERFECT parent, had two children who rebelled. He did it all right. He gave them everything they ever needed and didn't know they wanted. He probably never told them they were irritating or that being the Father was the worst job ever and you know what? They rebelled anyway. There's something about being in a fallen world that we just can't correct. We will not be perfect. What we can be, is filled with grace and forgiveness. We can raise tiny humans who know its okay to make mistakes, so long as we sincerely try to make amends and repent. It's the heart that counts. And the heart of the Mama? That's the key to the whole thing :)

    1. Amen to all of that. There is indeed something about being in a fallen world that cannot be corrected. Does it have its charms and surprises? Sure.

      Grace and forgiveness all the way....and a lot of laughter.


I love your comments!