May 11, 2013


My husband knows, more than most, that being a mom is hard work. I could have fallen on the floor and kissed his feet the day he told me he realized that unless I had someone fill in for me during the minutes I had to myself (for a day out, weekend away, etc.), vacation time was not restful for me.

There are levels of awareness when it comes to understanding a full-on, no-limits role. I had no clue what being a full-time mom meant until I was one; they don't give you fine print until after you're on the front lines. It's jarring to realize just how much the role will ask of you. It will often feel like more than you have to give.

The man I married is fully aware of how much effort it can take to run errands with multiple active small children. He knows that preparing a meal and timing things isn't easy. The level he doesn't quite get is that every decision takes me that kind of calculation.

He loves to grill, and I love the smell of charcoal (something primal, there), so he prepped a meat dish for supper tonight. I crashed hard and was deeply asleep when he came to me ~15 minutes before our usual supper time to ask what else we could have to eat. He had mentioned running an errand in town with both kids, and it became apparent that it didn't happen while I was sleeping. As we talked further, the collision of everything (my brain ramping up, supper not decided let alone started, errand not run with husband remarking it would take at least half an hour, and usual kids' bedtimes fast approaching) meant I couldn't restrain the "how could you not understand this ahead of time?" expression on my face.

It's easy to forget how long it takes to learn certain things and learn what options just aren't there. Moms learn it in the trenches, and you don't understand the extent of it until you have to do it every day with no end date. If I don't have a supper plan by 5, my "fast" options are mac & cheese from a box (assuming I have all ingredients), reheated leftovers, or some quick-heat frozen food option. If frozen pizzas aren't in the house, I cannot get some from the store, preheat the oven, cook them, and be ready to eat at 6. It won't happen. If I have an errand to run with the kids and I only have 15 minutes, I'm going alone or I'm not going. Period. --And I only have two kids! I am certain these sorts of plans change drastically for more kids.

I never appreciated all my mom did until I was trying to do her job. John Piper said that motherhood is the big leagues of self-sacrifice, and it is. No personal boundary or preference gets to remain intact, no physical indignity is off the table. We're not saints, and yes, there are times we resent being needed, when we internally whimper, "Why do I have to be the go-to person on this?" So many, many moms follow that whimpered thought with getting up to go do it anyway, though. It's our job.

My mom has been my first teacher, cheerleader, confessor, solace, authority, entertainer, listener, friend, and confidante. The moms in our lives are often our first experience of the fierce tenderness that characterizes God. A line from the movie "The Crow" says that 'Mother' is the name for God on the lips of every child. On the eve of Mother's Day, now a mother myself, I am thankful. My mom did more than just accommodate me in her life, more than rearrange her world. I finally understand that she was willing to rewire her neural circuitry, to change the way she viewed everything and chose anything, for me. Because of her, I have been willing to do the same for my kids. Thank you, Mom.

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