The mommy blogosphere is full of articles brimming with advice on how not to “lose yourself” when deep in the throes of motherhood. Mothers are encouraged to take a vacation, go to the spa, perhaps go back to school or get a job, or simply take a night off. Often, mothers are encouraged to hold onto who we were sans children. But, as you probably already know, motherhood changes us.
And what if motherhood is supposed to change us?
Now, of course I’m not telling you to ignore everything except your children. You are likely a wife, a sister, and a friend. These are all proper relationships that require time and energy. You may keep a job. This also may be good and right, and perhaps necessary. But you are also a mother, and motherhood changes us.
In Philosophy 101 you learn of the ancient philosopher Heraclitus who’s main thought is summarized be the phrase “All things are flowing.” Put another way, all things are in a state of becoming, rather than being. The more I grow into adulthood the more I resonate with this philosophy. I am not the same person I was when I first heard of Heraclitus some up-teen years ago. My past jobs, higher education, and my marriage have all greatly shaped and changed me, and now my children are also changing me.
When it comes to motherhood, why do we have the desire to hold onto what was and not embrace what is or what could be? Perhaps we are scared of the way motherhood changes us.
Our culture has largely dismissed the art of motherhood and even the broader task of home making. When a large part of our external identity is not valued by the culture around us it can be easy to seek approval in other areas by holding onto parts of our identity which are culturally valued. Perhaps we felt “smarter” before kids, and we are afraid to loose that.
Regardless of what those around us think, we must see motherhood for the beautiful and rich calling that it is. There is a unique dignity associated with motherhood. As women, our bodies are designed to carry babies. Without us, society would die. Even at the most basic level of motherhood, there is dignity. Motherhood isn’t just wiping butts and sweeping floors. Motherhood is nurturing persons, souls, citizens.
Most of us are not naturals at the art of keeping a home and raising children, but does that mean that we give up? Run away from this noble calling? Or do we persevere, developing our “second bests“?
I believe that God created me as a unique individual.
He gave me my love of outdoors, photography, and the way things work. He also gave me a husband, parents, sisters, and friends. And, he made me a mother. I want to embrace the sometimes all-consuming-ness of motherhood with as much joy and purpose as I would any of those other parts of me.
Sometimes we need a new perspective and some time away to be the best mom that we can be. But next time I feel like running away, I want to stop and think about why I want to run away. Do I not like the way I’m being changed and stretched? Perhaps I’ll remember Haraclitus and his philosophy of change. And I’ll learn to rejoice in the way that motherhood changes us.