I am thinking that centuries from now scientists will conclude from all the mommy blogs and Facebook posts, Twitter comments and Instagram photos that motherhood, the mother of all jobs is hard. Really hard.
After all, it’s a fact that millions of moms do not sleep, eat, go to the bathroom, dress or basically function like a human being until their children have grasped a mother’s screeching lament in these seven basic words: “Please leave me alone for five minutes!”
At the risk of receiving The Mommy Death Stare right now (all women on the planet know what I’m talking about. Come to think of it, all men on the planet know what I’m talking about right now), I am here to say that motherhood is not at all hard in the way we like to complain about.
I am not talking about wayward children hard, or tragedy hard. This is about the regular day-to-day routine of life that goes into caring for a child.
Poverty is hard.
Caring for a parent with Alzheimer’s is hard.
Living with chronic pain is hard.
Planting a field in a drought is hard.
I have never broken a sweat changing a diaper or car pooling a kid to their first job. I did not become ill from lack of sleep or build my biceps scrubbing crayon marks from a newly painted wall. I did almost break my toe stepping on a LEGO. I remember I was more upset about yet another mess on the floor and how dare someone not realize I would be walking on that part of the carpet at that moment in time carrying a load of perfectly folded baby laundry that no one would see except me and my fantasies of being the best mother ever, than I was about the throbbing pain shooting up through my heel.
Motherhood isn’t hard in the way we may think or maybe even blog about. It isn’t about all the dishes and the endless diapers and projectile demands.
What is more true is that motherhood is inconvenient.
Inconvenience interrupts the status quo in a way that hurts. It delivers a blow to the inside parts of me. It is the hard scraping against my will. It is the push against my own comforts. Inconvenience is the tug-of-war of timetables….mine against everyone else’s.
I once told my children they were coloring too loudly.
This incident made the Top Ten List of my worst parenting moments, by the way.
I was expecting my fourth or fifth child and I desperately wanted a catnap. After the regular routine of breakfast, chores and then lunch, I was spent. I was, after all, lugging around an extra twenty-five pounds and I wanted silence. A little peace and quiet.
One hundred percent peace and quiet, apparently.
I was frayed to the very edges of my little pea brain for the deafening sound of crayons scraping against the box along with the ear splitting swish of the coloring book pages proved too much for me and I log rolled to the edge of the couch and whisper-hissed to my children, “Will you please stop coloring so loudly!”
My oldest son stared at me, his crayon clad fingers frozen mid-air. It was in that moment I knew exactly what the poor lad was thinking:
“My mother has completely lost it. And…she’s selfish.”
The inconvenience of motherhood has been my greatest and most painful teacher. I am inclined to preserve all things to do with my self and motherhood set me up to destroy that self-preservation. It was hard core love, really. That was the set-up.
Hard-core love for five precious babies that inconvenienced me in a thousand different ways and taught me the value of getting low for the sake of someone else. Sometimes the inconvenience leads us to recognize our children’s place in the world. Sometimes it’s when you spend hours carting band equipment or watching yet another film production. Sometimes it’s trying to understand the art form of fashion. Sometimes it’s holding a three tiered wedding cake in the back of the van or a baby born quickly because you’ve suddenly become a birthing coach.
A day’s journey from Jerusalem left another mother inconvenienced, too, when she and her husband discovered their son was not with them. Three days it took to find him. After back tracking, they found him with the learned men in the temple, amazing everyone with his understanding of spiritual matters. But this part was lost on his poor mom, who admonished the boy Jesus:
Son, why have you treated us so? Behold, your father and I have been looking for you anxiously.”
And he said to them, “Why have you sought me so? Did you not know that I must be in my Father’s house?
It’s like he was saying, “Why did you even have to go looking for me in the first place? If you’d known anything about me, you would have known where I would always be found….doing what I was created to do.
I have missed things like this when I’ve focused on the inconvenience. Sadly, I missed some growth moments…some aha moments because I lamented the inconvenience instead.
Motherhood is hard, inconveniently hard.
Just don’t let anyone tell you it’s about the dishes and the carpools and the empty refrigerator and the mountains of laundry. That stuff is regular life.
Motherhood is about getting low for the sake a child, helping them find their place in their Father’s house. The truth is it can only happen through the refiner’s fire of inconvenience.