There was a lot going on today in my blog world about parenting. Kim asked me last week about something I had written about giving of yourself to be a mother and then she wrote a great post today about the difficulty of parenting. It got me thinking... Those two women are years ahead of me in parenting experience (let's be honest, I am still in the infancy stage!) so I know that my reflection may be considered infantile as well.
As a teenager and adult I've spent many hours serving others. I built houses and worked in a soup kitchen in Mexico. I collected diapers for local women and children's centers and helped the poor in my community. When we perform works of service we "abandon" ourselves in a spiritual sense to put others' needs ahead of our own. Performing such works of service is not always pretty and sometimes goes unnoticed. It is hard work and can go unrewarded. Some days doing community or Christian service is downright hard. It is not unlike being a parent.
I believe that to be a good parent you must give of yourself fully to your children. Even though I am a new mom, I learned quickly that I need to "abandon" myself to serve them best. I don't think it is hard to be a good parent-- I think that it is hard to put other people entirely ahead of ourselves. We live in a society that is so much about self-fulfillment; serving others is low on the list of our priorities. Most of the time putting my children first is simple. I am so overwhelmed by my love for them that I want the best for them. But occasionally I long for the selfish moments--where I had some money to spend on myself and time to freely go wherever I wanted.
Many women disagree with the idea that motherhood means giving yourself fully to your children because they don't think they need to sacrifice who they are to be a mom. I have heard women without children (and maybe even myself before having kids) say that they won't change their way of life for a baby. It's as if we have visions of carrying our children as an accessory. But the best moms that I know, including my own, put much of their own lives on hold for the sake of their children. Giving yourself fully to your kids doesn't mean you can't have your own friends and pursue your own interests. But it does mean that you will priortize based on the needs of your children. So I don't think parenting is hard. I think being selfless is hard.
I am in admiration of the mother's I know who are selfless everyday. Their job is hard. And children don't appreciate the difficulty of giving oneself to another; they likely will not understand until the moment they hold their own child in their arms.
There are days ahead of me where there will be children whining, screaming and demanding attention. I will get frustrated, angry and upset. I know there are days when I won't think I can do it anymore and want to throw in the towel. Shoot, even this afternoon I was overwhelmed to the point of tears with two crying babies. But motherhood is a form of service, where we give ourselves to our vulnerable children so that through our service to them, they will grow into selfless people who, in turn, will serve the world and their own families.
I have a lot of years of motherhood in front of me. I know they won't all be easy. In the end, I hope that I look back on those years pridefully, knowing that I tried the best I could to raise them with love.
And the days that I just can't do it anymore? Those are probably the days you will find me getting a pedicure...