Just about every day someone comments on how big Jacob is. I often joke about the consequences of carrying around my huge baby. I call him my little weight loss program, and note that my arms have never been as toned as they are now (which isn’t really saying much, to be honest).
Though I am physically stronger now than I have been in a long time, motherhood has also made me stronger spiritually, emotionally, and mentally.
Embracing motherhood in a society that doesn’t always fully appreciate the vocation can be a tough thing. Thankfully, I’ve recently come across a couple of meditations that have helped me understand and be grateful for how, in just the last year, being a mom has effected extraordinary changes in my interior life.
For one, a recent article in Family Foundations magazine (sorry, I can’t find a link) inspired an important reflection. It cited Timothy 2:15, “The woman will be saved by childbearing, if only she continue with faith, love, and holiness.” To the author, this initially came across as misogynistic, but in practice, she found that being a mother truly did trigger changes in her heart that could not have come about any other way. I’m so glad she put it that way, because I’ve experienced the same thing.
In much of what I do each day, I now have greater discipline because I know that what I do—or don’t do—directly and immediately influences another person. Even without his conscious effort, Jacob holds me accountable to even do the littlest things—standing up straight and strong when I hold him, not cutting corners when attending to him (the diaper isn’t that full, right?)—to the best of my ability, and not to make excuses.
I read somewhere (and unfortunately I can’t remember where) about a mother whose children seemed to be able to tell when she wasn’t giving her all. Children, like all of us, know when they have someone’s full attention and when they don’t. I’m certainly not perfect in this regard, but I’m working on it, both with Jacob and with other people. In this way, I am also becoming more charitable and more patient than I may ever have become on my own.
Certainly not everyone understands and appreciates all that “motherhood” entails, but some really do. Just the other night I read the following quote from G.K. Chesterton, which was printed as a sort of frontispiece in Your Vocation of Love by Agnes Penny. (I wrote about Penny’s book on pregnancy, Your Labor of Love, last May). Chesterson is a writer I have just discovered, but already recognize as brilliant. His words made me so proud to be a mom!
“If drudgery only means dreadfully hard work, I admit the woman drudges in the home. . . . But if it means that the hard work is more heavy because it is trifling, colorless and of small import to the soul, then as I say, I give it up; I do not know what the words mean. To be Queen Elizabeth within a definite area, deciding sales, banquets, labors and holidays; to be Whitley within a certain area, providing toys, boots, cakes, and books, to be Aristotle within a certain area, teaching morals, manners, theology, and hygiene; I can understand how this might exhaust the mind, but I cannot imagine how it could narrow it. How can it be a large career to tell other people’s children about the Rule of Three, and a small career to tell one’s own children about the universe? How can it be broad to be the same thing to everyone, and narrow to be everything to someone? No; a woman’s function is laborious, but because it is gigantic, not because it is minute. I will pity Mrs. Jones for the hugeness of her task; I will never pity her for its smallness.”
To motherhood, to mothers, and to the children who offer us this beautiful vocation!