the ponderings of a mother

These are the ponderings of a mother in love with her children, both in my arms and in the grave. Some of these ponderings are quite emotional, some are funny, others contemplative and spiritual. All are sincere. May these writings bless you in many ways and bring you closer to the one, true God and Redeemer of all things.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

This Quotidian Life

Four week before Elsa was born we made the leap-off-the-edge-of-the-cliff decision that I would stay home with her. The numbers didn’t “work” for me to remain in a part-time job and the potential stress levels for me seemed unattractive to the health of our family unit. So, I became the “stay-at-home mom.”  Such a loaded phrase in this culture.

There is ambivalence around this phrase, this vocation, for me. Our culture compounds this with tough mixed messages throughout the journey into motherhood and beyond.  Pregnancy is super-chic and all the rage in Hollywood and the magazines about the “stars”. There are more websites than a woman could peruse in 9 months of waiting. So many forums with ideas, advice, and don’t forget the insider acronyms! (DS= dear son, DD= dear daughter, TTC= trying to conceive, and the list goes oooooooon within that fascinating subculture).   An odd obsession with pregnancy in a culture that does not value life, in my humble opinion. But off the soap box. Once born, you best get your body back into shape and shape up into the supermom of being able to do it all. This includes having a body that bears no marks of every having carried a child, sad pressure. Then there is the way you had your baby (home or hospital)…and the judgment that can come from either side of that persuasion. How you diaper your child shows us how much you care about the earth and therefore how much you should be respected. And gasp…do you bottle or breastfeed? I won’t even go there.

And this is just the beginning of the child’s life.

I don’t bring up all this to give my opinions or even my choices within them, I am making my own choices about these issues and I know there are consequences/benefits depending on what is chosen, but I also carry a good bit of freedom within my convictions about the choices of others. I bring all this up to say there is a lot of pressure on moms these days in our culture. There was a day, not so long ago in human history, when the only choice was birthing at home, cloth diapers, and breastfeeding…and these women’s didn’t feel the pressures women do today with the myriad of choices. 

Now even the baby is a choice.

I don’t rattle off this list to point directly to that, but I bring it up to say this is a difficult place to live within so many choices, and thereby so many ways to judge and be judged by others!  Recently in a mom’s group I am in we were discussing the issue of choice and a friend of my who recently had her second baby, has a numerous advanced degrees, and is trying to find her way in this culture said exasperated…  sometimes I wish I lived in a time when there were less choices, where my path was laid out and expected, I think it would be easier than to have these choices, sometimes it feels like a curse.  This is a competent woman, but tired. And I pray for her as she figures out her own way in this season of her life.

That was all just random commentary on the state of momma-hood in our culture and the many strange decisions woman face these days.  My desire is that mommas everywhere could support one another as we navigate the deep transformation that can occur in motherhood when enter into our vocation.

I am a momma and I am becoming a momma. I think that it the nature of the gig. This appears to be an ever-evolving experiment within my own convictions of what is means to live out my vocation as a momma. Trial, error, victory!, trial, victory!, error, error, error…and so it goes. This is no small task forming a soul.  Being home has given me a lot of time to consider what this means.  Well, right now I am at Caribou on my mommy’s morning out having time to think, read, and pray about my vocation. I actually made a list of things to think about when I have time… (yes, a list of things to think about when I have time!) if that doesn’t say enough about being the mom of young babes! J But if this is to be my vocation how will I enter into it. I have found great resources these last months in the form of books and others to help inform my thinking.

Full transparency: I began this journey both excited about being with my babe, and babes to come…but also feeling a bit embarrassed. I felt I had to justify my decision for staying home to everyone who asked…are you just staying home with her? …Yes…just staying home…The confusing messages… continue. Being a mother is noble and great and worthy and the most important job in the world….but is that all you do? Sheesh.  

My inner dialogue goes something like this: Am I wasting my brain?  What about the things I feel called to do, sincerely? Will I get bored? How will I be perceived? (ever approval-seeking)...and my favorite from well-meaning folk: Why did you go to college? (as if mother’s don’t need intelligence!?!).  So I am on a journey to understand motherhood in its many facets.  I desire to live fully into this vocation and open myself to its complexity. I desire to reclaim the dignity of this quotidian life in a way that my culture-at-large doesn’t acknowledge exists (sidenote: I write knowing full-well many of gone before me and done this well, I am not reinventing the wheel, just exploring it’s beauty).  I have so much I want to write about this as I process. I began weeks ago jumping into a study of Proverbs 31 and was pleasantly surprised by this capable woman. This woman managed her home and other properties, taught, sold goods, oversaw the finances of her home, loved the needy of soul, served the poor…she oversaw her home with great dignity and was awake to the world around her!  She did not turn a blind eye to the needs of those around her in order to shelter her home from the reality of pain, but engaged her home and her world. I have so much more I will write about this, I have been inspired.  I have also been reading books by both women and men honoring the high calling of motherhood and the deeply spiritual calling that it is.  I came across this quote by G.K. Chesterton in a writing of his (yes, a man J) called “What’s Wrong With the World” (read it for free here), I have not read it all, but I plan to :

“How can it be a large career to tell other people’s children about the Rule of Three, and a small career to tell ones’ own children about the universe? How can it be broad to be the same thing to everyone, and narrow to be everything to someone?”

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