Wednesday, January 6

My Sacred Obligation

I am a mother.

At times I am overwhelmed with this thought.  At times I am crippled by guilt for my actions.  At times I lose control of my patience, my temper, my body, my thoughts, my words, my reactions.  At times I step outside what it means to love and I embrace what it means to control.

The fact is: I can't control anyone outside of myself.  I can show the little devils how to walk the path of angels, but I can't make them do it.  I can show the kicking, screaming child how to take back the reins of their anger and frustration - but not if I've lost my own grip.  I struggle with speaking softly when I'm angry.  I struggle with hanging on to patience when things aren't going the way I planned.  I struggle with jealousy, insecurity, spite, and I temper all these with bitterness (just to keep things fun, you know).

I am an ordinary mother.

My first job every single day is to make sure my children are safe fed clothed bathed clean finished with homework brushed awake inspired organized secure LOVED.  There are many ways to accomplish this most basic and important duty.  I can hug them, kiss them, cuddle them, tickle them, praise them, feed them, snuggle them, stroke their cheek, pack a treat in their lunch, write a note, kiss their father, sing a song, smile...the list of things I can do to show my feelings is endless.  I can negate all of this good will with a simple cruel word or a physical blow.  I can erase all the love and confidence they have for me (and for themselves) with one moment of anger.  It is a very delicate balance I strike. 

Sometimes this power can go to my head.  I want to FORCE my children to be good, to choose right, to talk more softly, to play nicely together.  Often my method of persuasion is a raised and angry voice.  I am coming to realize how counterproductive yelling is.  Yelling teaches yelling.  Hitting teaches hitting.   To mark their body with a physical strike is to mark their soul with a permanent tattoo.  That is not to say I have mastered myself, especially when MY NEEDS are not being met RIGHT NOW. 

But the fact is: I signed up for this.  I took the downs with the ups, the anger with the joy, the discouragement with the satisfaction.  It is a part and parcel deal.  And my needs are not going to be met sometimes, at least not first.  I am not the most important person in the room.  I am one of a group of equally important people.

I am a changing and learning mother.

My job is not to rule by fear or consequence.  My job is not even to rule at all.  My job is to guide, direct, persuade, teach, show, lead, and love.  My job is to make my children feel like they are the most important thing that ever happened to me.  Because they are, they are my greatest accomplishment, my greatest gift, my greatest lesson, my greatest joy.  And my time as their guiding star is short.  I decide, every day, how fondly they will look back at our time together.  I decide how loved and secure they will feel.  I decide how much of a mother I will be.

"The home is the first and most effective place for children to learn the lessons of life: truth, honor, virtue, self-control; the value of education, honest work, and the purpose and privilege of life. Nothing can take the place of home in rearing and teaching children, and no other success can compensate for failure in the home."

I am a mother.


Heather said...

Ahhh... I always feel so inspired after coming away from your mothering posts. I love the truth.

Serioulsy, when is that memoir coming out??

Sarah said...

You are too sweet. If I could publish a parenting memoir I totally would. And I'd thank you in the liner notes.

That Girl said...

Why aren't you famous?

Marcia Marshall said...

Thank you for this, sarah! Beautifully said.