Today at church they showed a video tribute to mothers. I had Claire with me because she had what I thought might have been a cold and I didn't want to spread it in the nursery. Now, I didn't see it all because Claire was in my lap requiring help with the puzzle I'd brought for her to do as an independent (hah!) quiet (hah!) activity. And it was one of those reading videos, so if I wasn't looking, I missed it. Anyhow, the gist of the video was to highlight all the things moms do. It was like, "They're our chefs, housekeeps, taxi drivers, etc. So thank you!)
I remember looking up and thinking, "Is the church calling me a housekeeper?!" Now, of course this video was made with wonderful, loving, honoring intentions and I truly believe it touched many people there. And I also didn't see it all, so maybe there was more depth to the "what makes a mother" business. But it didn't sit right with me, and I couldn't quite place my finger on why. I wasn't offended, really. Just not particularly honored. I was considering it later and here's what I'm thinking. None of the roles mentioned are anywhere near what I think of when I define myself as a mother. Sure, I clean the house, and take the kids places, and I cook meals, but honestly those tasks have nothing to do with my identity-who I am and what I do.
That got me thinking about this idea of motherhood. The stage of motherhood I'm currently in is the young stage. So, perhaps later on down the line I will feel more of a "Here here!" when I see a video exalting and appreciating my house maker skills. But even as an older child, I remember my own mother becoming exacerbated with us and exclaiming, "What am I, your maid?!" And my first thought was always, "Of course not, you're my Mother!" (Now I know I treated her like a maid sometimes, and oh how I wish I hadn't and simultaneously marvel at her grace and love in the face of such treatment!) But even as a child, for me a Mother was a special and wonderful creature, not a person who cleans up after me. So much so that those are the things I took for granted and never thanked her for. Because that's not who she was to me. (Also, thanks for cleaning up after me, mom!)
How would I describe my identity, then? Firstly, because my children came to me through pregnancy, I think of myself as a life-giver. We, as mothers, sometimes get to literally build and nourish life within us. It's a very physical act. Mothering is growing a being and then even after birth giving from ourselves what is necessary for continued life, and growth, and learning. But that's not where motherhood stops, or even starts for many wonderful mothers.
More than initiating life, a mother is the person who forms our concepts of the world. (Truly, this is a role both parents fill with importance, but it's not Fathers Day, so they only get honorable mention here!) I stay home with my littles. This means that I'm the primary one who walks with them moment by moment. I literally narrate the world for them. They learn that a tree is a tree because I tell them. And more deeply, they learn about intimacy, kindness, love, and affection all from my example. As our children grow older, we help them examine the intricacies of interpersonal relationships, the mysteries of the universe, and the truths of God. This is my job. This is who I am. This is what I want said about my role as Mother. These are the things I hope Claire, Jude, and Eli come to appreciate about me. These are the things I cherish in my own fantastic mother.