From the moment of conception, the pace of motherhood is set. The march to the end of 40 weeks seems simultaneously never ending and also a full speed launch into the most significant shift in a woman’s personhood.The tension and urgency of motherhood begins with the relentless pace of gestation; it is both a never-ending 40 week march and a full speed launch into a new season of life. #Motherhood Click To Tweet
The early days of infancy are marked by the sweet smells of baby lotion and little heads with cottony tufts of hair. Influenced by sleepless nights, we live for the coos and sweet smiles, but find ourselves longing for swift days ending in a quiet repose that seems more fantasy than tangible reality. There is a tension within between the desire to imprint all of the little things into our memory and a desire for the season of exhaustion, self-doubt, and paranoia to be over. We love the bonding and special moments yet despair if we will ever discern what our wordless progeny are trying to communicate.
School days come soon enough with backpacks, toothless grins, and a budding independence. There are tears on the first day but also an inner celebratory dance over new-found freedom. But then we realize how quickly the days have slipped by and struggle with guilt over the days we hurried through, stories we did not read, and cuddles we were too busy to entertain. Again we are confronted by the tension and urgency of motherhood.
Add in the competing demands of marriage and/or career and the tension seems almost too much to bear.
I once heard Andy Stanley say that “In leadership there are always problems to be solved and tensions to be managed.” I think the same is true of motherhood.
Our success or failure as mothers has less to do with how well equipped we are (all things being equal in a first world scenario.) Rather, I believe that an essential key to our success as mothers comes down to our ability to manage the tension that exists between motherhood and everything else.
Motherhood: The Tension is Real
As a follower of Christ I believe that motherhood is a stewardship. There are a gazillion ways to describe it, but stewardship expresses the role that God has assigned to me as a temporary caretaker of the child(ren) entrusted to my care. Long before my desire to become a mother was ever manifested, God had a plan and a purpose for me and the children I would bear. There is a tension to manage here between my own expectations of motherhood and God’s. Once I make motherhood about my plan and purpose rather than His, I am not properly managing that tension.
The relationship with my daughters is one of my most important relationships. However, my role as mother is not the most important relationship in my life. My most important relationship, the one that should receive my first fruits, is that with my creator. Second to that relationship is the one with my husband. There is a tension to manage here between my tendency to make my children into little idols, the covenant I have with my husband, and the call to worship my Lord.
In most homes, if we’re not careful we can find ourselves caught up in the false urgency of the day-to-day. We maintain a mental running list of all that “needs” to be accomplished. This list starts from the moment we get up to the second we drift off to sleep. The “to do’s” get longer and longer; they’re never complete. I like and function better in a neat house, but a neat house won’t build the relationship with my daughters that comes from playing a board game, watching a movie, or building a snowman. The urgency isn’t in finishing the laundry; the urgency is in building life-long intimacy, trust, and communication with my girls. The urgency is in pouring into them as much as possible before the voice of the world becomes louder and more influential than that of their mother.
If yours is like most homes, you and your spouse both spend long days at the office – whatever the “office” is for you. Inevitably, the demands of work and motherhood will find themselves at odds and you’ll note very quickly that the tension between the two is real. Whether our work is fueled by desire or necessity, it is vitally important that we acknowledge and manage the tension between the two. Ignoring it won’t make it go away. Failing to manage the tension will impact your relationships with your children and your colleagues. There is always work to be done, but if you are constantly in a posture of sacrificing the relationships with your children and/or spouse you will eventually experience the consequences. Each of us are able to manage the tension for a season, but if the nature of your career is such that the tension between work and family is never ending, it may be time for a change.
There Ain’t No Hood Like Motherhood
Today, on the final day of a long weekend, I spent three solitary hours running errands and perusing the aisles of Whole Foods because I needed to get out of the ‘hood.One of the most unique tensions in #Motherhood is the urgent need to create and establish our own space and identity apart from our children. #MotherhoodMatters Click To Tweet
I needed enough silence to hear myself think and then chase down the thoughts scampering around my head. I needed the ability to consider my own diet separate and apart from considering how I might best entice my youngest to eat her vegetables. I needed the time to get lost in a book, a character, another time and place.
And at the end of the three hours I was able to come back to an empty but disheveled house and clean the kitchen, unload the groceries, change the bedding, and finish the laundry. I had enough time with me, that at the end of the day I could engage in playtime with them. This is the magic and mystery of motherhood. This is how you manage the tension.
Be there momma, be there.