And just to be clear, these two cuties aren’t on the list.
But here’s what is:
1. It exposes my weaknesses.
Like keeping a clean house, or a schedule for my kids. Like people-pleasing, being a pushover because I don’t want to fight, and the occasional (OK, more often than I like) bouts of laziness.
2. Ditto for my selfishness.
I never realized how self-centered my world was until I had kids and couldn’t do all the things I wanted to do whenever I wanted to do them. I still find myself fighting myself. I don’t like to share, but my kids always want my food, my time and my space.
3. It forces me to ask for help.
I’m a college graduate. With honors, even. But a bachelor’s degree in no way qualifies you for parenting. I don’t like having to ask for help or go to other people for advice or ask stupid questions. Parenthood has revealed I’m a dunce when it comes to consistency, potty training, patience, balancing love and discipline, child development and doctor’s visits.
4. And do things that, for me, are uncomfortable.
Like talking to strangers at the grocery store, standing out in a crowd, and making decisions.
5. It requires sacrifice.
Back to that sharing thing. How many dates, vacations, getaways and concerts could my husband and I have gone on/to? How much more comfortably could we have lived without the expenses of raising children? How much farther along would I be on my writing journey? Maybe my husband would be finished with seminary by now.
6. And slowing down.
Dishes. Laundry. Grocery shopping. Leaving the house. Whether it’s getting multiple people dressed, changing diapers the minute before I was ready to walk out the door, visiting the public restroom 3 times per grocery trip or chasing children from the back yard to the front yard and back while trying to hang up laundry, everything seems to take longer. Have you ever tried to hurry a toddler or a preschooler? Let me know your secrets to success in that department. Even a walk around the block isn’t quick as we stop to examine every stick, rock and flower petal along the way.
7. There are no days off.
I was sick this week, and I couldn’t call in help or send the kids away or call off work. I wanted to curl up on the couch with a book, but I still had to deal with children’s needs to the best of my ability. I’m “on call” 24/7. Some people go to sleep thinking about work. Some nights I go to sleep with my work.
8. And I’m always being watched.
“Why are you doing that?” “What are you doing?” And listened to. “Why did you say that?” When my natural instinct is to curse, insult, mock or demean, I have to think about who’s listening. When I want to kick, scream, or throw something in anger, I have to consider: do I want my kids to do the same?
9. It brings out the worst in me.
I don’t consider myself an impatient person, until Isabelle refuses to put her pajamas on for bed. I don’t tend toward anger, until the kids are fighting, screaming and throwing toys and food all over the house that I might have just cleaned. I don’t think of myself as immature until Isabelle says something like, “But I don’t feel like going potty,” and I reply with, “Well, I don’t FEEL like reading you stories.”
10. And reminds me that I’m not in control.
I can’t MAKE my kids do anything. I can’t force them to obey. I can’t wave a wand and have Isabelle magically potty-trained and accident-free. I can’t physically move their little legs faster so that we can finish our walk before dinner time. Some days, that makes me want to throw in the towel altogether, but I know I never could do that.
Yes, there are some things I hate about being a mom, but just because I hate these things doesn’t mean they’re not good for me. And when I look back on this list, I see it applies to my relationship with God, too.
Just as the goal of marriage isn’t to make me happy but holy (See Gary Thomas’ “Sacred Marriage” for more on that subject), so motherhood is not meant to fulfill all my natural longings but to show me my deep, utter need for grace and the love of Christ.