Motherhood is surrender -- of everything.
My little sister, Wendy amazingly cares for three young children, the youngest of which was born with unknown genetic and physical problems in February. They are confined most always to their home as she can’t take their little girl out much. Her days are filled with things typical of caring for newborns, toddlers and preschoolers, but also with a lot of extra medical care tasks associated with a special needs baby. She’s heroic, loving and dedicated in every single way.
I was talking to her on the phone the other day. We manage this every two or three weeks and it is comically chaotic on both ends of the line every time.
At one point, her potty-trained two year old deliberately wet her pants. She finished cleaning that mess and walked over to her littlest only to discover that one of her venting tubes was leaking all over her blanket and the couch. Not a nice mess to clean up. Wendy audibly surrendered.
“You know, I used to care about how things looked when company was coming over. Now I just turn on the Scentsy warmer and pray that my house doesn’t smell like poop.”
I laughed -- a lot. Mostly because I’m right there with her and because I could hear the smile in her voice.
I’ve thought a lot about my sister over the past couple of days. I thought about everything that’s being required of her, everything that her motherhood currently demands.
Let me tell you what I can see.
I see my incredibly organized and neat sister leaving her toilets dirty to make sure she has clean kids instead. I see her sporting ponytails because her baby can’t be left alone. I see her spending sunny days indoors and trying to entertain children who desperately need to run marathons outside.
I see dishes sitting in her sink and a to-do list (and yes, she religiously writes these) that’s looking more like it would fit in a novel than on a post-it note. I see her juggling doctor appointments, specialists and medical care. I see her learning things and doing things she thought she’d never have to know or do.
I see Wendy doing everything that is physically required of her as a mother. I see her surrendering. But I can also see the smile in her eyes even over the phone. It radiates outward, making the dark circles underneath almost unnoticeable. That’s because something else is happening too.
This is one of the amazing things about my sister and all good mothers. Motherhood doesn’t just involve surrendering our free time, hobbies, clean floors and shiny toilets. The surrender is infinitely deeper than the trade-off of abs for stretch marks or cute jeans for yoga pants.
Mothers aren’t just relinquishing the things you can see. They’re voluntarily giving up everything that you can’t see as well.
Beneath the visible parts of our lives, the ones that everyone gets to notice and critique and judge, a silent battle is being fought in the heart and soul of every mother. It’s a battle that all good mothers are winning whether they’re aware of it yet or not.
It’s a place of voluntary surrender. It’s a place where we chip away at our impatience or our temper or our selfishness a little at a time. It’s the place where we fan the flames of our faith and recognize our potential and our worth. It’s a place that our children take us to.
Good mothers everywhere are not just surrendering the things you can measure. Yes, that mom only got three and a half hours of sleep last night and is still standing on her feet. You can be impressed with her. But that same woman also spent hours on her knees begging for the burdens that her child feels to be lifted. She also didn’t yell at her son this time when he kicked his sister in the nose.
Yep, that mother over there has dark circles under her eyes. She must be exhausted. Yet she managed to cook dinner for her family anyway. You can be impressed with her. That same woman also managed to keep it together when her child threw a raging fit at the grocery store. She was also able to smile at the woman giving her dirty looks during that fit.
Never have I ever witnessed another group of women so willing to surrender all of themselves for the sake of others. They’re surrendering their physical needs, free time and interests, sure; but they’re also relinquishing their vices and refining their souls. Good mothers everywhere are surrendering their wills as part of a much greater plan.
You can be impressed by all of the good mothers you know, if you want; but you should probably stand in awe of them instead.