It is still and dark. The clock ticks 5 a.m. and I cannot sleep. I pull out the coffee. Moving slowly, not wanting to wake my exhausted crew still breathing deeply in their beds. Even the dog is curled tightly on the pile of dirty laundry we’ve discarded in the middle of the floor. I tiptoe my way to the living room, grab my cup of joe, and sit down with you.
What do you want to be when you grow up?
It is a simple question really. Trite and unimaginative. Eight days ago I asked our small class of eight church kid’s this question. And haven’t stopping thinking of it since.
We got our usual answers of “fireman!” And, “Super Hero!” One boy even captured my heart when he said, “I don’t know but I WILL live in the mountains.” I liked that. A lot.
The thing that stayed with me was this: one little girl said confidently, “I want to be a mom.”
I’ve spent all week recalling her answer and why it was meaningful to me. And I think the answer is in what my daughter has actually said at one time or another about being a mom:
- “I don’t want to be a mom, it is too hard.”
- “If I am a mom one day, I will put my kids in daycare so I can go do what I want.”
- “Being a mom doesn’t seem very fun. It seems like a lot of work.”
- Ah. The inevitable sigh. My daughter is like a little reflection. I hate it at times, the way she can give voice to the things I’ve thought in my head.
- You’d have to be hiding under a rock to have missed the “mommy-crisis” in our culture. Even my 7-year-old can voice it aloud. Every mom is crying out for validation and looking to others to provide it.
But others aren’t going to change the tide of our hearts…or our culture. It will be these young ones that are currently spilling their milk across our tables, stubbing their toes, and dreaming of being super heroes that will make up our future.
And I wonder, does the problem of not “valuing motherhood” start in the heart of us moms? Does it start in me?
- Do our kids see our secret (or not so secret) wish to be out doing something more “fun”?
- Do our kids see our grumbling every afternoon about the three meals we’ll cook that day and that second load of laundry?
- Do our daughters see mom feeling trapped and looking for life in fitness or a career or….?
- Do they only see the drudgery??
Because then I am pretty sure they will grow up to do and think those same things… and to not value and love the institution of motherhood themselves.
The hard part is: being a mom is hard most days. It is a lot of hard work. It can be drudgery. You do cook a lot and clean a lot and go unnoticed…a lot. And since I hate the whole “put on a fake smile and act like everything is fine” thing. What do we do? What do I do??
I think back to that little girl. I know this little girl’s mom. She is a good friend to me. And a great mom. I don’t mean that in the “her kids are always well-mannered and perfectly dressed” way. I don’t mean that in the “she somehow maintains a perfect household, spotless social life and body of 20 year-old” way either. She is honest about the hard work and toil and sacrifice being a mom is. But she is a great mom, because I can see her enjoying her kids.
And maybe that is a piece of my answer. See, I am pretty sure I’ll never find full joy in the daily tasks I do as a mom, but I can enjoy the big blue eyes that will peak around the corner in roughly 20 minutes. I can enjoy the little one as she crawls on my lap and the oldest who will have perfectly organized her wardrobe, brushed her hair and planned out her crafting exploits for the day before she even exits her bedroom. I can enjoy the little-boy-legs that are moving so so fast all. the. time. But haven’t quite mastered coordination and often end up tangled underneath him.
And my kids will learn to love motherhood and sacrifice and hard work, not because I am perfect at doing it, but simply because I enjoy them while I am doing it.