I know it's been a little while since I've written. I have officially turned thirty (thank you, thank you) and I'm still waiting for that epiphany of wisdom that I was really counting on when the clock struck midnight on my birthday. Oh well, I'll have to settle for regular old will-to-get-up-in-the-morning-ness as usual. Luckily, I have a zillion things to be thankful for - so even if my baby starts screaming at 6am, I'm up and at 'em, counting my blessings and trying not to stumble into the overflowing hamper on my way out of the bedroom.
I think that motherhood will dominate my thirties, dare I say "define" them. People often use this term negatively. Many people refer to definition as the ultimate derogatory comment. "I'm a woman, but that doesn't define me"..."I'm an Office Coordinator, but that doesn't define me"..."I'm a blogger, but that doesn't define me"... Okay, maybe you don't hear that one as often, but you all have definitely heard "I'm a mother, but it doesn't define me". I mean, heaven forbid.
I get it - this is something that stay at home moms made up in order to retain their sanity. This is something that Oprah has allowed women to express so that a new mom feels liberated enough to put down the laundry for one second and pick up her book club pick of the month instead. This is something that working moms tell themselves to justify putting in the long hours so their children have health insurance. It's a woman's scapegoat phrase to comfort her amidst the reality that she can no longer hold adult conversations without mathematically configuring in the back of her head when the last time she breastfed was and therefore how long does she have until her nursing pads explode like the Hoover dam giving way...
But maybe, just maybe, the problem isn't with how you define yourself. Maybe the problem lies in how you define motherhood.
Last night, a sweet friend of mine endured the most heinous of nights. She's only been a mother for 6 days, and she is already teaching me new meanings of motherhood in limitless ways. Following a very unexpectedly early delivery, her baby boy entered the world with his share of challenges, and last night he took another unexpected turn in life - needing emergency bypass surgery. Please read his story and pray with us for baby Ewan...I know you will find his mother's account of it excruciating and inspiring: http://www.team-ewan.com
I can not even possibly begin to relate to the unimaginable things that my friend has endured and will face in the future. She has looked death in the face and chosen to see the grace of God instead. She has laid her son (her only begotten) at the feet of Jesus, knowing that only He alone could heal. And He did! But, what's more...even if He didn't, this mother continues to know that God is good. No matter what. Truly, that is the power of a mother's love. She has chosen to hand the illusion of control over to God, and to be firmly planted in the palm of His hand, and His plan.
God have mercy, Christ have mercy.
Motherhood isn't about task-management. Being a mother doesn't mean you start every day with a checklist and balance your self-esteem on the grim potential of completing that list before daddy gets home and still finds you in your jammies. It isn't about folding clothes or cooking dinner or making sure there's toilet paper in the house. It isn't about making sure your kids are polite or clean or even safe... These are all wonderful aspirations, don't get me wrong - there is a reason that women are equipped to multi-task and still remember who's birthday it is that month. These are lovely things. But they are not motherhood.
What my friend reminded me last night, was that motherhood is ultimately the privilege of sacrifice. I don't mean the kind of self-help-Dr-Phil kind of "give your kids the last of the ice cream even though you want to devour it yourself" kind of sacrifice. No. I mean, "cry your eyes out realizing you are not and never were in control of this child kind of sacrifice that starts with the most unbelievable act of selflessness that ever existed" and giving your child to God to allow His will to surpass your own desires. Whoa. That is some serious love. A love that I can only hope to attain someday. A love that I strive to catch a glimpse of as I hold my baby tight and pray over her with tearful gratefulness.
I am humbled. I am in awe.
We are all working towards becoming more Christ-like, trying to allow the Father to mold us a little each day, fearful that pain may come with each new touch of His hand, but grateful for His guidance and protection. It is an agonizing privilege to watch Kirsten be molded so painfully by the Father right now. Her little babe is a miracle-machine, and we await anxiously alongside her to know the plans God has for him. None of us know what to say. I know she would be the first to admit it is only by God's grace and the prayers of many that she lives through each minute. Still, she reminds me daily what it is to be a mother.
Thank you! If that is what motherhood is...please, God...let it define me.