Dear Mom - Don't Give Up
This post is written as a letter in the hopes it will bring a word of cheer to at least one mom out there.
Maybe you think that others don’t see or understand the work you do every day, but there are those of us that do see. And what we see, when we allow ourselves to, is frankly astonishing at times. It doesn’t make sense, certainly not in this “survival of the fittest” world we live in today. You’re human and as such one would expect you to be inherently selfish, but so often you are found battling back the baser tendencies of your flesh and pouring yourself into other people.
Only these are not simply people. They’re little, very vulnerable people and save it were for the compassion that you, and others like you, have on them they wouldn’t have a hope in the world. I’m speaking, of course, about your children.
In a very strict business sense, you have nothing to gain by helping your children in the immediate future, maybe not ever. They come to this earth fully equipped with an array of needs and wants that couldn’t care less about your plans or expectations. This is why during the time you've set aside for sleeping they wake you 4 times by their crying because they're hungry. Or, after you’ve cooked your meal and readied your table, they dump their plate, spill their drink, or simply pull the table cloth, and everything on top of it, plum to the ground. It's why they mark your walls, break your dishes, stain your carpets, and get sick at the most inconvenient of times. It's why they weary you with questions, scream to get their way, treat things as if they didn’t cost money, and seem diametrically opposed to tidiness.
Again, strictly from the standpoint of personal gain, who really needs children? The case could easily be made that governments need children else nations would fall. Businesses need children to grow and come of age to supply the workforce necessary to produce their wares. Neither of these could long exist if everyone stopped having children; but did you ever hear of a family having children simply to keep their country afloat, or to revitalize the workforce? I haven't. No one has children for these reasons.
Yet, we still have them. Maybe one could suggest it was simply a miscalculation, these children you have. Who isn’t positively enchanted by the little cherub face of a newborn baby? The prospective parents think, “Oh, what it would be to have one of those,” and then after the sleepless nights, emotional duress, and loss of personal property these same parents are ready to declare the whole thing a mistake. Maybe some, but not you.
The moms I'm writing to are just as human as other moms. They get tired (read: completely exhausted), they get flustered (read: utterly overwhelmed), and they have their "mom moments" (read: they yell sometimes). They have hopes and dreams just like other moms and oftentimes all they can do is look on as their children crush, and then dance upon the wreckage of what was supposed to be their Martha Stewart home or their alone time in the evenings. Don't give up.
Surely you've been tempted to. The world you live in and the channels through which it speaks - the movies, the television shows, the books, the blogs, the magazines - so much of it seems to conspire against you as a mother. Hard as you try to wrap your life and your mission up in the lives of your children, it seems that everyone else is trying to drive you to separation. "It's you," they say. "It always has been and always will be you. You're the center of importance. Why will you lose so much of yourself to the needs of others? Why will you give to something that offers so little in return?" Life is business they seem to suggest — pure and simple. You should quit anything that you can't profit from.
These people know next to nothing about the love of a mother for her children. I'm reminded of a story a man told from his boyhood, how that, after a prairie fire he ventured out into the field to go exploring. It wasn't long and he came across a little brown prairie bird, still sitting on her nest. She had perished in the fire attempting to shield her fledglings from the flames. This mother, with her two strong wings, could have easily ascended above the reach of danger, but there was a law much higher than the law of self preservation that caused her to remain with her little ones — the law of love. Don't give up.
You see, this love you give to your children doesn't make sense. Why would a bird stay with her children who must unavoidably die in a prairie fire, only to lose her life as well? "What a waste," the world would say. But we must also ask why a woman would subject herself to a 9 month pregnancy that will require significant portions of her body's resources just to sustain the life within her? Expectant mothers, whether they planned it or not, want the child or not, are literally giving their lives so that another may live; and their sacrifices are only beginning once the child has been born.
There is no explanation for this and none is needed. Jesus' words — "Greater love hath no man than this; that he should give his life for another," is the closest approximation of what's going on here. This giving of yourself; this feeding and teaching and guiding and doctoring and counseling and yes, this setting aside of your own wants and desires in order that all this might be done for your children is not earthly. It comes from above.
You won't quit, will you? I know you moms. I'm married to one. The love of a mother is a complete paradox and one of the most singularly beautiful things you'll ever encounter. She lays her life down in hundreds of little ways, dies hundreds of little deaths every day, even for one who would repeatedly poke a fork through her leather couch or write on her new white comforter with a permanent marker. Oh, these things frustrate her terribly, but give her some time and before long she'll gather her brood together in the living room and read them a gripping story or she'll simply cup the face of her little one in her hands, stare deep into the face of innocency and draw all the reason she needs for getting up tomorrow and doing it all over again.
You can't quit mom. You're simply too important. To others your work doesn't look like much and I know it often doesn't feel like much but if you left off sweeping your kitchen and nursing bruises and staging impromptu tea parties and the thousand other things you do to enrich the lives of your children, the world would fall apart. So carry on, dear mother. Let those who have eyes to see look on and marvel; for in you we see the love of God.