I must clarify, just for a moment, some thoughts on the "art of motherhood" I talked about yesterday. Because in speaking of that art, I'm not talking about whether or not women adopt or bear their own children...or whether women even have children for that matter (one of my best friends who has never had children practices the "art" of motherhood better than most people I know). I'm not talking about whether a mother works away from home in addition to all the work she does at home or not. No, I'm not talking about any of the extenuating circumstances that shift our unique lives off, individually, into different branches because of such varying needs and personalities and hopes and dreams.
In speaking of the "art" of motherhood I'm talking about motherhood as just that...a beautiful act of doing something with our hearts, and doing it gracefully, deliberately, in the best way we can taking into account our vastly different circumstances.
Just as a meticulous dancer balances and leaps, making her work look so compelling and beautiful to a bystander who may or may not even comprehend all the grueling work that has gone into her precision, so a mother can perform her work with grace and beauty. What comes across when someone makes what they love doing into an "art" is that it is important enough to them that they are willing to make the sacrifices needed to make it beautiful.
To me, motherhood is beautiful. A mother with a toddler on her hip, or a pacifier slung around her finger as a ring speaks to me. A mother who, tired from a day of working at an office, still comes home and puts on a puppet show with her children, or that mother who is willing to stop what she's doing and stoop down to look into the eyes of a worried child as she balances a load of laundry on her hip and lets the swirl of activity just be, even for a split second...those mothers know the art of motherhood. And I want to be like them.
To me, the "art" of motherhood doesn't have as much do to with all the extra things we balance...whether it is working full-time or developing a talent that fulfills us...as it has to do with being in the moment when the "moment" arises. Really reading a book with a child (instead of skipping pages in an attempt to please not have to read every word for the thirty-fifth time in a day like I do), or staying up late to talk to a teenager who needs a little extra loving, or praying our guts out that a child will make good decisions in life all contribute to the moments that make our motherhood an art.
There can certainly be no generalized "perfect mother." We are all too different. We have different husbands or have no husbands at all. We all have different children to care for who have myriads of varying needs. And most importantly we are all different...unique daughters of God, all with completely different abilities and attributes to develop.
But no matter what we do, or who we are, or where we live, or how many children we have, we can all make our little piece of motherhood an "art" in it's own right. We can go about what we do in a day just as a dancer goes about a beautiful dance, with precision and grace. We can keep getting up again, after numerous failures and mistakes, and keep trying. We have the power to choose to meet our challenges in a way that will help us grow and become who God wants us to be.
No one on earth may ever know the heart break we have endured, or the gallons of throw up we have cleaned or the amount of times we have counted to ten in valiant efforts not to loose our minds with difficult children. There are no Pulitzer prizes or even gold stars stuck to our foreheads for figuring out how life-changing "magic erasers" can be, folding load after load of laundry, or being able to whip up a decent dinner with the random assortment of what we have to work with after not making it to the grocery store for a while.
But on that same note, no one else will feel the rewarding heart-swell we will when a child finally makes a much prayed for breakthrough. No one else will quite understand the sweetness of an inside joke shared with a child we've cultivated time with. No one else gets to feel the same joy watching our children love each other as only siblings do, or save money as we have painstakingly tried to teach them. And those things come when we choose to make the way we mother a priority, whether we work outside the home or not, whether we live in a different culture or have different interests outside of mothering. They come when we put our heart into our mothering, no matter how different we may be.
Some day, as we look back, we will marvel at the strength and rhythm we were able to develop. Because what we have willingly done with love in our hearts has become our passion. Hopefully we will see that love reflected in the eyes of our children. And that will be our reward.
I must also clarify that I am writing these things mostly for me...one who has more patience to learn than I can even comprehend. One who gets frustrated and slams doors and forgets things right and left. One who gets distracted from the "moments" at hand quite easily and is just about as far from perfect as you can get. But also one who knows there is a God who cares and who is willing to help me every step of the way if I will only let Him in. And that is what I am hoping will somehow help mold me into the mother I want so much to become.