Overwhelming – adj. very great in amount; very strong.
That is what motherhood is. Overwhelming.
The amount of giving and sacrifice that takes place from the very beginning and doesn’t end. Your body becomes a “carrier” and food source for another living thing. From the food you eat to the clothes you buy and everything in between, nothing about you is really about you ever again. Overwhelming.
The endless cycle of laundry. The countless sleepless nights. Their homework. Your home work. Overwhelming.
The weight of responsibility. The enormity of consequences for every bad choice made, foul word uttered, and hypocritical “do-as-I-say-not-as-I-do, because-I-said-so” deed done. Overwhelming.
The questions for which you have no answers. The questions for which there are too many complicated answers. And the questions for which you do not want to know the answers. Overwhelming.
Did I mention the laundry? There is so much about this mothering gig that is overwhelming. It’s a constant state of irony. An oxymoron of epic proportions. Think about it…
This physically tiny person evokes the largest, most extreme emotions in us. We are focused on the big picture, raising them to be good people; while the things that will shape their lives the most are found in the seemingly small stuff. Even in hard financial times, we work and sacrifice to give our children the best we can; when all they really want is more of us, something that doesn’t cost a penny.
I’ve often said that children are God’s mirrors. Through watching them, teaching them, loving them and dealing with them, we learn about ourselves. We are growing up right alongside of them.
After 37 years, two children, a few pets, a divorce, a long string of bad decisions and a blog, I have learned one thing you must do if you want to be a good parent – get caught up in a moment with your child. Every day. Connect. Listen. Engage.
Does that mean playing dress up and agreeing to be the evil queen? Again? Sometimes. Answering the pretend phone call and eating the imaginary food? Yes. Listening when they talk about video game strategy, this week’s who’s-crushing-on-who report & a crazy trend in pants called “joggers”? Probably. Reading that book for the 8th time today, coloring outside the lines & having messy fun that you know you’ll be cleaning up later? Definitely.
It’s something I have to make a point of doing every day because life can get in the way sometimes & I forget. Before I know it, dinner time becomes bath time and slides into bed time and another day is gone. Some days the mom guilt is especially heavy & it overwhelms. Focusing on a moment, whenever & wherever it presents itself at least feels manageable when so many other things about this life do not.
Tonight I’ll go to bed with a list of things undone. There are dishes in the sink, emails unread, rooms that are messy and clothes to be laundered. It is an undeniable fact that there will be good days and there will be bad days. Tomorrow I may lose my cool, forget to defrost something for dinner, pick my battles unwisely and say a few apologies.
But in a few years when both of the kids are gone and the house is quiet, I won’t be wondering if she cleaned her room or if he really turned in that homework assignment. The questions I’ll ask myself will be did I tell him I love him enough and does she know just how amazing she is. Did I connect with their hearts and make them stand a little taller? It won’t be the dishes, emails & messes that I think back on. It will be the impromptu tea parties, late night talks and private living room concerts that sustain me. The moments that I stopped busying myself and just loved them because that is what God has called me to do.
This bigger is better world would have us believe that a ‘calling’ is a huge, grand affair. A platform on which all the world can admire your deeds. No, I may not be doing great things in the eyes of other people. I’m not solving the problems of civilization or contributing to society in a way that some might consider life-changing or world-altering. But I am changing two worlds and altering two people’s lives. Every day.
And that is the most significant contribution any of us could hope to make.