Sunday, May 12, 2013

Vulnerable Motherhood

Motherhood is not a hobby, it is a calling. You do not collect children because you find them cuter than stamps. It is not something to do if you can squeeze the time in. It is what God gave you time for.
I first heard this passage two years ago when Elder Neil L. Anderson quoted it in General Conference. However, recently I came across the original blog it was posted on and thoroughly enjoyed reading the whole post.  A part that stood out to me was the very next passage after the above quote.  The author writes:
Christian mothers carry their children in hostile territory. When you are in public with them, you are standing with, and defending, the objects of cultural dislike. You are publicly testifying that you value what God values, and that you refuse to value what the world values.
This really put into words some of my feelings that I have struggled to identify.  I've noticed that I feel particularly vulnerable in public when I am pregnant.  And during my current pregnancy we purposely put off telling Jeremy's PhD adviser we were expecting until about a month ago.

Within the walls of our own home we are so happy.  Sometimes when I am watching my boys play together, or listen to them talking to me, I just want to burst because of how much I love them, and how amazingly wonderful they are, and how blessed I feel that Heavenly Father has sent them to me.  And we are so, so, so excited for this new little one to join us.  It's been amazing to observe how each of our boys is different, and what they bring to our little family.  We can't wait to see what this new spirit will bring with him.

But outside the walls of our home we become "visible"--open to others' interpretation without our input.  We recognize that our children (and my pregnant state) are a statement of our values, and that other people may not value the same thing.  I  feel unstated accusations that if we'd just stop having kids, then Jeremy could be graduated by now, we could have a "real" job by now, or any number of material possessions by now.  And I take a lot of the supposed blame on myself, because I'm the one who's pregnant, and a lot of society looks down on a pregnant woman.  Like maybe I'm uneducated or unmotivated, or simply incapable of "greater" things.  And to go out with my children, particularly when they aren't being well-behaved, I feel the eyes of a million strangers saying, we told you so, what were you thinking, and why have you done it again?!

A few months ago, Jeremy sent me out of the house for a little "me" time.  I got a pedicure, and while chit chatting with the gal doing my pedicure, I let her believe I was pregnant with my third child.  I never said as much, but in the few other things we talked about we didn't make it to each of my kids.  And the truth is, I didn't want the "Wow!" or the "You're brave!" or the "I could never do that!" or whatever "polite" response she might try to offer, not to mention any impolite ones. 

But maybe it's time to change my ways.  I know how I feel in my heart and I probably need to work harder to not let others' unknown opinions make me feel any less secure.   I need to realize how important it is that I do; because in doing so I am "defending the objects of cultural dislike" and "publicly testifying that I value what God values".  In that context, it hurts to think that if I am insecure about my motherhood in front of others, then I am leaving my children undefended.  That's the last thing I would want to do.

As I make my final preparations to bring my fourth son into the world, I want to become a better mother than I have been in the past.  Particularly, I want to keep my head held high when I leave the sanctity and security of my home.  Because we love our boys, and the reason we "keep having kids" is because we want to, we choose to, we love them and we love our life with them, and also, we believe God has commanded us to bear children.  So, I will defend my values to the world--I will defend my children.  Even on their very worst days. 


Anonymous said...

As a mother of four boys myself, amen! We hope to welcome more sweet babies and I am so tired of the comments I already get. Thanks for the encouragement!

Anonymous said...

We always laugh at Bill Cosby's joke. He's the father of five children. People ask him, "Why did you have FIVE children?" He replies, "Because we didn't want six!" I also love my mother of SEVEN friend's response when someone in a store said to her, "Haven't you ever heard of planned parenthood?" She smiled and replied, "Yes. And we're half way through our plan." My Chinese students always exclaim "WWWOOOOAAAAHHHH" when I tell them I have five children. In the same breath, I tell them they are all happily married, graduated from universities and contributing much to society and the world. Pat me on the back--I raised five great people! I'm happy you are understanding your great accomplishments as a mother! -- Nonny


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