Thought For the Day:
“Children are not a distraction from more important work. They are the most important work.”
Question For the Day:
Do you struggle with the sacrifice of motherhood?
The first time I saw the quote I’ve chosen for today, I felt like crying. In two short sentences, C.S. Lewis was able to put into words a resolution to an internal struggle that I had carried for years. A conversation with a friend yesterday helped confirm for me that I am not alone in this struggle. As I’ve told you, I am a mother of three. I was blessed with two sons ages 15 and 10 (now 20 and 15) , and a daughter who is 9 (now 14). I wish I could say that I was fully prepared and established when I began having children. I always admire women who had the foresight to get established in their career, prepare financially, get married, buy a home and then plan for their children when all of the pieces of the puzzle were in place. This was not the case for me. I met my husband, fell hard and fast, got pregnant, moved with him across country, shacked up, decided to go back to school, got married, struggled through some tough years of marriage, changed careers about three good times, and then had two more unplanned pregnancies before the dust finally settled.
Yes, it was ass backwards, and it’s only by the grace of God that we are still here after almost 14 years (now almost 20). People look at my family portrait at work and frequently comment on what a nice family I have, and I do. But always remember that there is often a lot of struggle and hard years behind any strong family. It’s a tough place to be when you realize you’re still finding yourself while being charged with helping children find their way. However, this is what happens when you haven’t planned properly for parenthood.
Now I’m not writing this post to beat myself or any woman up who sort of backed into the role of mother. I’m not ashamed of any of the choices I’ve made because I’ve learned, and am still learning from it all. However, when you go into anything major like marriage or parenthood blind or ill-prepared, you will have to take the necessary time to clean up the messes, get organized, and devise a plan. This takes discipline and patience.
Before I had a family, I was a major risk taker. If I didn’t like a job, I’d quit. If I wanted to try something new, pursue an interesting opportunity, or pick up and move, then like Nike, I would just do it. But one of the aspects of having a family that I’ve struggled with most, is needing to postpone or limit what I get in my mind to do when it does not benefit my family. I know it’s easy to say that women can have it all. “Do you, girl!” is what we say when encouraging one another. However, anyone who’s had kids or cared for kids knows that you can have it all up and until it becomes a burden to your children.
I can’t take opportunities that will pull me away from my kids. I could accept assignments that will consume a lot of my time, but I’m not ready to have three kids at home missing me so I can “do me.” I have kept jobs that I would have quit much sooner if it weren’t for feeling the responsibility to contribute financially so my children can be secure. I would love to go out more and spend more money on myself, but if it means my children will go without, then I make myself wait. I know that many will say this is not a healthy perspective because after all, we need to take care of ourselves before we can be good for anyone else. But, I think in many ways it’s natural for a mother to sacrifice.
There are times when I feel like I’m losing precious time because I’m preoccupied with my responsibilities to my children. I’ve always aspired to do great things with my life. Yet after college, while my peers were advancing in their careers, starting businesses, buying homes, publishing books, and such, I was in my apartment changing diapers, potty training, and getting Hooked on Phonics with a preschooler. I felt so behind the curve. Surely there were more important things I should be doing. What about my writing dreams? Have I lost something because I have a family? Prior to having children, I had a fairly exciting life with many friends. But after I had kids, I felt like I’d let people down because I was more concerned about interviewing babysitters than interviewing for that dream opportunity. I wrestled for years with all of this, but this quote from C.S. Lewis helped bring it all back into focus.
I now realize and accept that I can attain all the success in the world, but if my children end up lost, broken, hurt, and confused then none of it would matter to me anyway. Whatever God has for me, is for me. This will be the case no matter how many kids were added to the mix. There is no sin in putting your children first and accepting life on life’s terms. This was the bed I made, and I’m willing to make it comfortable and lie in it. I think women can have it all, just maybe not all at the same time. If my children deserve the lion share of my focus for now, then so be it. As long as I’m making steady progress, no matter how slow, I’ll eventually reach my goals.
I’m not sure if I will ever get the recognition I planned for but it matters to me that my children see me as a good mother. They may never know all of the sacrifices that were made on their behalf, but if they become good people as a result then it was all well worth it. Knowing that I gave this motherhood experience my very best effort means that there will always be a legacy here that I can be proud of no matter what other accolades I receive. I can gamble with my own life, but when it comes to my babies, all bets are off.
“Her children rise up and call her blessed, her husband praises her as well.”