Deep down, I think I’m a fairly selfish person. It’s something I try desperately to fight. Perhaps sometimes too desperately. But no amount of fighting really changes the fact that when it comes down to it, I like my time. I like time to be me. I like time to do what I want to do. I like space.
This is a challenge when being a mom. Between Magoo and Goosie’s constant questions and comments and stories and tales, my ears and my thoughts are never my own. Every time I try to think a thought, it gets interrupted by more questions about why the sky is blue or why cars are called cars. And between Goosie and Mae’s constant need for physical assistance — diapers for the baby, drinks, food, clothing changes, toys — my body is not my own. I am constantly using it in an effort to assist someone else in what they desperately want or need because at that age, the line between the two is blurry at best.
I wouldn’t have it any other way. I adore my children’s brains. As constant as the chatter is, I know what a blessing it is to be the one asked all of the questions. The confidences they share with me are some of the greatest treasures of my life. And with the physical needs, I know that what I am building is trust. A feeling deep within them that when they have needs, they will be met. And it is a pleasure and an honor to be that person.
But sometimes I just get so tired.
It’s a fatigue beyond anything I have experienced before because it’s not due to physical exertion. It’s due to the mental stamina that is required of constantly being in service of others. It’s born of holding my breath and waiting to exhale until all the needs of my little people are met.
And that’s where the selfishness comes in. Because this does not come easily to me. I would love to say that I am always willing and cheerful about giving every moment of my day in service to others. I desperately pray that one day I will find it within myself to give of myself freely and cheerfully whenever I am needed because some times these days it feels awful reluctant and often exhausting.
And that’s where I found myself this evening. Overwhelmed and exhausted by a day of too many whines.
And I was in the car by myself (this only happens once a week) and I was listening to the rosary on Relevant Radio. At this stage, I find myself a seeking Catholic. I want to have full faith and full trust and full acceptance, and give myself willingly to it. But it’s a struggle. I envy those to whom faith seems to come easily.
But anyway, as soon as I turned the radio on, they were praying the mystery where they cast lots for Jesus’ garments. And I sat there for a moment and thought about that.
Here Jesus was giving His everything — His life — for the sins of all of us, all of us who sin against Him and who turn away from Him, and while they were actually preparing to hang Him on the cross, they took even His clothing. They left absolutely nothing left. They took all He had. And yet, He still kept on giving.
I’m not comparing motherhood to dying on a cross. But I think the cross has more to teach us about sacrifice than I ever realized.
Giving means giving it all. Giving and giving and then giving some more. Even when we don’t want to. Even when we don’t think we have any more to give.
To mother is to promise to be there for another. Even at 3:00 in the morning. Even when you have the stomach flu. Even when you feel like your body might crumble from fatigue. Mothering is about being there.
There’s a lot that I think I could have drastically improved on over the last six years. I could have been more patient. I could have been more Pinterest-worthy. I could have been more inspiring. But one thing I am enormously proud of is that I have been consistent. To a perfectionist like me, consistency sounds rather lame, but when I think of what I have done for each of them throughout the span of their lives, I realize that the sum is much greater than the parts.
And I think perhaps that’s what we need to keep in mind when it all gets so overwhelming. When we feel like we are failing. When we feel selfish and inadequate and broken. Yes, mothering is about some of the big things. But it’s also about doing the little things over and over and over, and teaching a little soul that there is something in which to trust in this big old scary world.
The blessings found in one little chubby armed hug is worth every sacrifice I have ever made for my children. But still, sacrifice is hard. And it’s supposed to be hard. But it’s not in vain. They may never thank us for or even remember us changing their diapers or cutting their grapes, but when they take those first tentative steps out into the world, and they trust that there is solid ground beneath them and loving arms to return to, we will know that it was not in vain.
Our work is hard. It’s mostly invisible. It’s often quite messy. But it’s not in vain.
So this song goes out to all the mamas out there.
(If you are reading this through email or bloglovin, you might need to click through to my blog to actually view the video.)