As Spring grows warmer and Mother’s Day approaches, I find myself reflecting on how I am being changed by motherhood. Don’t get me wrong, many days I spend (too much) time dwelling on how I might effectively shape, mold, and change my young boys. It is responsible at times to evaluate how I am doing at this job of parenting, but it is also easy to become overwhelmed by the responsibility of such a task. Today I am taking a deep breath and considering not just how I may or may not be affecting positive changes in the lives of my children, but how their lives are changing me.
My oldest son was born when I was 26 years old, my second when I was 27, and my youngest when I was 30. In the 3,304 days that I have been a mother, few things have remained unchanged in my life. My weekend plans, my body shape, and the quality and quantity of my sleep had all been my own for many years, but the presence of each new life changed all of that. Life was suddenly splattered by mess, and (SO MUCH) laundry, and interruptions. As all of these external familiarities, preferences, and routines were undergoing a major overhaul, my internal attitudes, rhythms, and priorities began to be transformed as well. There were times that this process was more conspicuous, and my impatience, exhaustion, uncertainty and self-doubt were on full display for all those closest to me. But plenty of days, this change was nearly imperceptible – I would wake early to enjoy a quiet jog at sunrise and begin the day energized instead of exhausted, respond with a calm word and patient smile instead of a quick snap of frustration, take the time to practice apology and forgiveness rather than separate the offended parties and move on. Over time, the smallest moments resulted in real and noticeable changes. None of those moments made headlines, but between a loving heavenly Father and an inexperienced and quite human mother, each one was a victory, prayer, and gift.
Sometimes I wonder at the purpose of motherhood. Is my purpose as a mother to raise responsible, godly individuals who contribute to society? This seems like a worthy goal, but also quite out of my actual control, as I am aptly reminded in my efforts to make a tired toddler go to sleep on any given night: the only person I can control is myself, and that proves to be plenty challenging. Is my purpose to provide a solid example for my children? I hope for and fail at this goal daily, as I am reminded by the vast opportunities I have had to practice a solid example of apology. Perhaps the purpose of motherhood is quite simple, but in any unique moment also quite nuanced. For now, I am choosing to practice bearing witness to the present life and joy all around me. I think of this much like a rock that bears witness to the wild, coursing water that shapes it. Motherhood is an incredible gift, one that joyfully engages me just as I am and yet graciously refuses to let me remain unchanged.
Afternoons wading in the Pecos River,
Splashing in the Glorieta waterfront,
Rafting down the Rio Grande –
Over rocks and around currents,
Tongues stretched to catch rain.
Stone shaped by wild waters and evidence all around –
Arches, tent rocks, canyons,
Mesas, key-holes, domes,
Shiprock, pools, puddles:
Water was here.
Speckled pebbles shine as treasure
to a freckled boy when wet
A rock shaped like a heart
that he recognizes familiar
An arch stands strong and delicate,
and canyons offer cathedral-high shelter and shade
No surface or contour cookie-cutter alike
But one same, smooth blade
Born from a motherly gush,
A full self spill
growing into wide mouths, long arms, tiny fingers
Each ripple a force of beauty-building erosion
to cut-out or carve the mass –
This heart of fleshy stone.
By LeAnn Dent
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