Monday, June 3, 2013

Mothering

A friend recently asked to give my thoughts on motherhood and oh, how do you even start? I swing with the winds of the day one day loving and treasuring, the next completely overwhelmed. I know many moms are overwhelmed by the craziness that is the newborn stage, but I loved it and soaked up every moment. It seems others come to their own during the toddler years, but oh man, it 's where I've felt totally out of my league.

I'm in a unique situation, too. I work full-time and for better or worse most of the time people think of motherhood as the daily ins and outs of parenting full-time from home, which I have never experienced.

Judah is, oh, wonderful. Last month he finally started calling me "momma", and now in the morning he calls me softly, "Momma, get me?" He's my snuggle bug, and in those moments he'll wrap his arms around me and lay his head on my shoulder and oh, I soak it up. He has a little toy that closes up like a briefcase, and as soon as he gets a hint that someone might be going somewhere, he grabs the briefcase that's just like momma's computer bag and heads for the door babbling about "go", and really really loves it when he gets to go with me in my janky old Tercel. He's no longer super clingy and we increasingly have conversations and are headed into the stage of constant discipline. Do I like mothering? Well, I like mothering Judah.

To be honest, I am currently terrified of the fact that baby #2 is nearly halfway cooked. I feel quite insecure about whether or not I am a good mother, a mother who enjoys mothering, a mother who is gifted for this job. I love my son, deeply, and I treasure him and being with him. But truly - loving someone and feeling equipped for and fulfilled by spending 24/7 meeting their every need.... those are two different things. I simply don't know how it will be being at home full-time, and yet soon I will be doing it with two rather than one, and in a new culture.

The truth is that recently after a full weekend with Judah my stress-level is sky high. Luckily I don't react to stress with anger. I become quiet, restrained, gentle, but.... internally overwhelmed. This HuffPo post "To the Parents of Small Children" is one I really relate to.

So, I simply don't know. I reject what some people have said to me, that women are just built to want to be at home with their children and feel fulfilled in caring for them. Not necessarily. Is a man necessarily fulfilled by his work? No. Some women never feel truly fitted at home, and some men never find a job they truly fit in either. Just because something is a part of our vocation for a time doesn't mean it will feel fulfilling or that we will be particularly well-suited to the job. If needed, you do it anyways, because it is your vocation, and in the case of parenting, because you love your children. I feel deeply called to care for my kiddo, and I have often felt burdened to be at home with Judah because I've felt like he needs me...... not because I just want to be at home.

To a certain extent, though, it really doesn't matter if I am one of those women who especially good at mothering. I AM a mother, and I'm about to enter a season where I will mother full time, and that's just the way it is and I will do it, and I'm sure some of it will be stressful and some of it will be wonderful. It is a season of life. I am a pragmatic person, and after working full-time for years, this will be a new thing to walk through.

On the other hand, it does matter as I make choices about the size of my family. I knew I wanted some children because I wanted to nurture life and a family. It's a gift, truly. But if I were the type of woman who felt completely suited to mothering, like it was what I was made to do and it's what I want to give my life to, then I would likely keep having children.

I don't know if I am that kind of woman. I don't think I really can know until I really am mothering full-time for a while. At the moment I often feel like I can't relate to the mommy club, to the mom talk that they can engage in and the topics that interest them. I don't know if that's because it's steeped in American culture (to which I still feel like partially an outsider) or because I'm a working mom who gets to engage in adult conversation (to my great relief) for the majority of my day.

I really enjoy working. I am a very independent person. I feel called to mother the children I'm given but I also think I'm called to some other things, and so I lean towards the idea of this full-time mothering for a shorter season. I realize that the more children you have, the longer your pour nearly all of your identity into mothering and oh, man, right now that's a bit terrifying.

I am preparing to throw myself into a season where my primary outer identity is that of "mother". But even while I do it with the knowledge that it is for "right now", I realize that the decisions I make now about having more children will affect... umm.. half my life? I am sobered and pondering.

2 comments:

Andrea Ward said...

I do feel like I'm out of the loop with the 'mommy club.' I'm not sure if it is because I'm a working mother or I just don't like the same things. The thought of being a mom full time has recently begun to cross my mind and it is scary. Whether I am a full time mother or not, it is scary to think that what I do can have such a big impact on my son and the generations after him.

I will be praying for you.

jenandtodd said...

Thank you for sharing this. While I don't have kids, I resonate with a lot of what you write. I'm not sure if I want kids, and a lot of it has to do with feeling called to other things and really enjoying working. But as a 35-year-old, and especially as a missionary, I feel a whole lot of pressure to be a mom. And not just a mom but a stay-at-home mom with lots of kids. I look forward to reading future posts from you about your transition. And whenever I do finally have kids, you can be sure to hear more from me. :-)