February 24, 2010

The Delightful Burden

For over two years, I have been slowly peeling back a giant pile of unspoken truths in my own motherhood experience. Truths that arise from the frenzy of diapers, screaming, giggles. Truths that I find to be ...well, true... things that other mothers could never/would never utter/think/imagine. I am honest with myself regarding my truths, which are not necessarily those of other mothers. (This is the legal disclaimer part, BTW.)

My truth finds the day-to-day of motherhood to be a colossal burden. I do not stay at home, and I cannot imagine how difficult the day-to-day for a stay-at-home actually is, seeing as how I have amazing support from a wonderful nanny and husband, and a chance to leave the house every day for a career. Motherhood is a tricky situation and a ridiculous juggling act. Coupled with my job as an attorney, motherhood becomes really rough. However, when compared side-by-side to the gritty practice of law - law is a walk in the park and motherhood is the actual beating. The burden of law lies in the details. The burden of motherhood lies in the details upon the details (which are situated on top of the details), the smallness that makes up the "good mother" and the complete family. The burden of allowing oneself to say, yes, today I was a good mother, a good person, a good lawyer, a contributing member of society. Motherhood becomes the burden when that statement is doubted, is silenced, is judged by others. Burden. The burden of hoping I am doing everything to raise good children, happy children. Children who can stay out of therapy and unmedicated (at least until teenage years). Children who like themselves. Children who like others. Burden.

What a horrific word to describe the blessing of motherhood, you may say. Welcome to my blog, Judgy-Wudgy folks. Stay tuned. I have plenty to judge. Do not give up all your judgments yet.

One of my favorites quotes in the world is from Bishop Jeremy Taylor, regarding marriage. He writes,
"Marriage hath in it less of beauty but more of safety than the single life; it hath more care, but less danger; it is more merry and more sad; it is fuller of sorrows and fuller of joys; it lies under more burdens, but it is supported by all the strengths of love and charity...and those burdens are delightful."

The burden of motherhood, of children, is much like that of marriage. The strength of a marriage is often in the small details, the daily so-called burdens. The side-by-side sleeping, the sharing of toothpaste, the grocery lists. After years and years of the mundane actions, a marriage can become a place of beauty, of safety. Years and years, and I do not have to ask what Jason is thinking. I know it, I grab the crackers and cheese, crack open a beer...hand it to him, and he mumbles some sort of thank you, and we continue American Idol. A delightful burden.

Same goes for mommyworld. The beauty of motherhood is painted in schools of Goldfish, streaks of laughter, and stains of poo. Yes, I always mention poo. Poo is an integral part of motherhood. Poo poo poo.

So when I say motherhood is a burden, I do not take away from the word burden. Believe me when I say, signing up for children is no joke. Not for the faint of heart, not for sissies. Perhaps for crazies. If someone really predicted the battles, the lack of color in the room, the loneliness of the three o'clock in the morning newborn cries, I am not sure anyone would do actually do it. Or agree to do it. At least not in the early years.

Before children you make choices based on you. What do you want to do? Hmmmm, do I want to lay on couch for thirteen hours straight? Do I want to go to a concert? Do I want to paint my nails? Once you are a mother, these things are no longer simple choices. The burden of painting one's nails becomes bizarre: what if I paint my nails and the kid needs to have a diaper change?

All of you who have been shielding your eyes, now comes the part of this ramble where I say: who gives a flying trapeze about burdens? When my two-year old son says, Mommy so cute, Mommy so pretty, I love Mommy - do I really care that he painted the walls with poo (there it is again, poo)? No, I do not. When he sings Twinkle Twinkle and dances some sort of abstract version of the running man, do I wish he was not here? Are you kidding me? I would claw out my eyes if I did not know that boy. When my baby girl says, Ma ma ma and leaps into my lap with her sippy cup, do I care that she ripped out three handfuls of my hair seconds ago? No, I do not. When she makes spit bubbles, runs to me, and then sticks her fingers in my nose - can I trade her for a career? For "freedom"? Shut the front door. These children are my life, my world, my precious burdens to protect, to care, to bear.

This is what I mean. Motherhood is a colossal burden. It is full of sorrows, full of joys. It is the burden of hoping you can do everything correctly, right by those precious little faces. It is the burden of all the silences, the fears, the nights laying awake praying they are safe, that they will remain safe forever. Motherhood is full to the brim with burdens.

And those burdens are delightful.

Love to all you mothers.

BlogVentures of James & Stella


Suzy said...

I just got peed on by my burden. Awesome.

The Brooks Family said...

Your blogs make me cry. A lot. But in a good cry kind of way :) Thanks for writing what I think, because I never seem to be able to get my thoughts to come out on the paper (screen) the way I want them to.