From my earliest recollections, all I ever wanted to be was a mother. I am not sure what it was that drew me that direction. (To be honest, I am pretty sure it was a pre-existent desire.) I longed for the opportunity to help others, to love them, and to serve them. Being the oldest of six children, I thought I had a pretty good idea of what mothering was all about and what it would require of me. I was wrong on both fronts.
I did go in with my eyes open. I knew about taking care of babies. I participated in the cooking and the cleaning in the house I grew up in. I babysat, a lot, both for my family and for others.
As I matured, I learned about myself, things I liked and didn’t like. I spent a lot of time playing basketball and playing my trumpet, probably 15 hours a week for bball and 10 hours for music. Those things were sacred to me. When I married, I could still do those things, just not quite as often. But when I became a mother, that was a different story.
I had to let go of the things I loved in order to choose to love the people I created. I still miss those things. I was really, really good at both of them, and I loved them, they were a part of me. But I had to make space to be more.
Right before I married, I had just decided that I had enough confidence in my ability to play that I wanted to try out for BYU’s womens’ basketball team. I decided to take a basketball class to bone up on my skills before try outs. Playing basketball messed with my menstrual cycle. When I started the class, the issues came back. I prayed and prayed and prayed to have things settle down so I could play. The response was a simple one. “You can play basketball or you can have babies, but you cannot do both.” What?! That cannot possibly be right! I want both! I prayed for the Lord to let me have both. “PLEASE!!!” I begged. The answer was always the same, “you can play or have babies, but not both”.
What? You didn’t hear about Carin the famous basketball player for BYU??!! Oh! Well, obviously I chose babies. Duh!
Being a mother has required more of me than basketball ever could, or even being a famous musician. Motherhood has required my very heart and soul. It is 24/7, 365 days a year, without a break, so far for 23 years running, on call all nights, no weekends, no holidays. Occasionally I have a small respite when I have spent a week at girls’ camp (but then I am mother to 8-12 young women who are not my own) and I think I have gotten away for one weekend without kids.
What motherhood has cost me in time and energy and money can probably not accurately be quantified. But what it has given me in growth and satisfaction cannot be measured.
I am kinder, more patient, more considerate, and more knowledgeable about everything from bugs and diapers, to Calculus, and people. I am much more compassionate. I recognize distress sooner and can soothe it more completely and faster. My heart has changed. I am becoming a new person. Each child challenges me in a different way. I am becoming more like Christ.
That is only happening because I am allowing my calling as mother to permeate my heart. I am embracing the process of my transformation.
I wrote this to a friend:
“I love my job!! I love being a mother! I love teaching and training children and teenagers and seeing the light go on in their eyes when they finally get it! And I love the challenge of trying to help each one ‘get it’ because they are all so very different in their learning styles and their understanding of how the world around them works. (And I especially enjoy the ones who don’t want to be loved and have an attitude…..I find the challenge exuberating to see if I can break their shell and find their heart, even though at times they are exhausting.!)
“So those are some of the reasons why we (I) am different than some you know, but extremely happy in my role and chosen profession. The pay isn’t so great on the checkbook, but the benefits just cannot be matched.”
The ability to shape souls cannot be duplicated. The tenderness and love required changes based on circumstances and the people involved. Always in the forefront of my mind is the understanding that each child has agency and each has unique gifts and abilities given to them by God, who knows what they are and knows how He wants them used, and why they are significant. Motherhood is like unwrapping new gifts with no comprehension of what is inside. As the child grows, the gifts unfold. It is beautiful and each one is different. And that is why I love it!
|Karen Larsen Photography
I also found this poem I wrote about motherhood. I thought I would include it.
…nothing in the eyes of the world, but everything in the eyes of your child.
…a long night with a teething babe or a sick child.
…tear stained cheeks as you plead for strength and wisdom to help troubled youth.
…an exploding heart the first time you see in your child the courage and determination to stand for moral truth.
…the empty ache of unfulfilled hopes, dreams and sometimes lives.
…all of your heart and soul, if you do it right.
…a toddler’s bouquet of your favorite flowers plucked straight from the front yard’s flower bed.
…finding yourself in the nurturing of children.
…the shaping of another human soul through your love, example, and diligence.
…the desire and will to be more than you think you can for the benefit of your children.
…hope and determination to make the world a better place through the life of a child.
…seen in a preschooler with her baby doll.
…anticipated by young brides.
…cherished by grandmothers.
…stem-less dandelion bouquets.
…noodle craft Christmas tree ornaments.
…exhausting and exhilarating all in the same sentence.
…hours and hours and hours of counseling siblings, modeling behavior, and working out problems.
…midnight sewing projects.
…secret sneaks of cookie dough together.
…doctor and dentist visits.
…crayon love notes written in your favorite book or journal.
…puddle stomping and muddy footprints across the floor.
…snow angels and hot-chocolate.
…finding lost socks, library books, uniforms, and shoes.
…promising ice-cream just to get one family photo where everyone will smile.
…expected holiday traditions passed down through the generations.
…sorting through out-grown wardrobes three times in one year.
…saving your children from scary monsters under the bed by setting monster traps with carrots and paper sacks. Monsters LOVE carrots. You knew that right?
…learning the latest hairstyles available with curling irons, rubber bands, and bobby pins.
…years of athletic events, dance recitals, and music performances from your very favorite celebrities.
…a sand-ring in the bathtub after a day at the beach.
…using fine china and a formal table-setting for no special occasion with party guests ages 3-17.
…wondering what your grandchildren will look like.
…watching your children do what you have done to sacrifice for the next generation and loving them all the more.
…time and energy—all that you have and all that you can get.
…a gift that costs more than you thought was possible, but gives you more than two hearts can hold.
…faith, hope, and charity.
…the very essence and nobility of women.
…mine for the taking and mine to share.