Monday, October 8, 2007

What is motherhood?

Is it a job or a relationship?

Karen is asking this on her blog, Cheerio Road, and delving into it full-throttle this week.

Interesting topic that has me thinking. I've always said motherhood is the hardest job I've ever had. I say this haphazardly probably because all I've ever known my whole life is work. Americans gauge everyone by how hard they work, or how much they don't, or whose work is better, harder, easier, and how much money we make doing said work.

Therefore, to explain my existence as a stay-at-home mom, I say it's a hard job.

But, it's also a relationship -- one that I never want to live without. It's hard for me to view mothering as a relationship right now because I'm still in the trenches, so to speak, of active, physical labor (which is more like a job). I still have to lift and carry them often, I still have to feed them frequently and they rely on me for all of the basic needs in life in order to exist.

I'd like to see it turn into a relationship where we listen to each other, challenge each other and support each other as best friends do. I might be dreaming.

Mostly, though, I think mothering is a lifestyle. You live it. You breathe it. You are consumed by it every single day. There is no escaping it. There is no leaving it. The responsibility is utterly unbelievable. There are no breaks, no time outs, no days off and no moments of silence.

The other day Da! and I attended church service together. It's the second time in 21 months (and longer) that we've done that. Leaving the girls in the nursery was shocking to me. I felt naked, much like forgetting a wedding ring but a million times worse. The entire hour-long service left me feeling fidgety. I could almost reach out and grab the string that goes from my heart to theirs.

That string, wound tightly, led out the double doors, wrapped around the staircase and traveled down into the basement, where Jadyn and Liana played.

Perhaps I knew that one of them had been crying off and on since we left. Perhaps I just don't know how to be anything else anymore.

I could try all day to be something else -- a worker, a community resident, a congregation member, a wife, a writer ... but, in the end, all I am now -- and all I want to be -- is a mother.

It's my life. And, despite all the years I wasn't a mom, it is all that I know now.


Anonymous said...

Beautiful. It is a complete occupation, isn't it? But as for the "style" in lifestyle--I'm afraid I've lost mine in the laundry.

Mama Zen said...

That's the essence of it, I think. Not knowing how to be anything else. Beautifully put.

Shannon said...

You nailed it with the string metaphor! It is all we are. The rest of life is the "bag of chips". :-)

bella said...

I had to write a whole post too, cause this is just such an irresistible topic!
Reading your words I kept returning to the word vocation: different than job or occupation. It speaks to calling and offering your whole self/heart to the work and work that only you can do because you were born to do it.
The string? Yes, they are with us in some ways always, woven into our own fiber.

LauraC said...

Gorgeous post. I love this:

Mostly, though, I think mothering is a lifestyle. You live it. You breathe it. You are consumed by it every single day.