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Parenting well worth the effort
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Children challenge us to be better than we are. They inspire us to do - even when we think we can't. They call us to love beyond our human capacity. I was reminded of this during a recent encounter with a stranger with whom I had much in common. She, like me, was a talkative, entrepreneurial spirit and mother to three kids, teenage to early grade school.

Initially, we blabbed excitedly about our husbands - what they do and don't do. After a few minutes of playing the martyred spouse, our "woe is me" conversation shifted to animated talk about our offspring. She sounded a lot like the poster child for mommyhood, as she spoke passionately about her commitment to family and attention to her children's academic and extracurricular pursuits. About 10 minutes into this topic, I say, with sincerity: "I can tell you really enjoy being a mother." Her blunt response: "No, I don't." My eyes widened as I waited for the punch line. It never came.

Perhaps a few years ago, I would have responded judgmentally. Yet, while I don't wholeheartedly embrace her perspective, I get it. I get that she is parenting beyond her human capacity. That her faith is carrying her from day to day and through task to task. I understand that to parent is to sacrifice and not always a likeable task. I also get that, despite running her own business, being a mom is the most demanding job she will ever have. It's also the most important.

This understanding serves as a constant re-direct for my own adventures as a parent. There are days when I want to slink to the ground from exhaustion and feel as though I can't possibly sign another permission slip, read another book, clean another toilet or prepare another nutritious meal. Perhaps this is what the woman meant when she said she doesn't "enjoy" being a mother. At any rate, I've prayed for the woman I talked to extensively not so long ago. Not only for her, but myself, and other mothers I know or have yet to meet. The supplication goes something like this: "Lord, although we may not ‘enjoy' every aspect of being a mom, equip us, nonetheless, to be mothers who nurture and protect and prepare our children to navigate life independently at their appointed time." Can I get an "Amen"?