Perspective

I am beginning to notice a shift in my perspective on motherhood and my current life role and situation.

Last night I was driving to the grocery store — alone! It always feels strange to leave home by myself, especially after dark. I almost feel rebellious. During these rare times of solitude in the car, I often start praying. I’m much more focused and candid in prayer when I can speak aloud, and this isn’t often a possibility these days. The thing about these aloud-in-the-car prayers is that things often come out of my mouth that I didn’t even know I had been thinking.

Yesterday had been a fun day with Charlie, and I started by thanking God for these days when I just adore being a mom. And suddenly I realized how fortunate I am to stay home with Charlie. It’s a privilege to watch firsthand as he grows and develops into such a cool little kid. I realized how heartbreaking it would be for me to have to hear of his milestones from a nanny or babysitter: “Charlie took his first steps today” or “Charlie said ‘race car’ today.” I realized last night that I tend to subconsciously view myself as a victim of my circumstances, and this can make me bitter about the frustrating things we face on a daily basis, like a tight budget that doesn’t have room for any frivolous spending. Can’t I just buy a new pair of shoes for myself without feeling guilty? But no, I’m not a victim. I am the recipient of a great gift — the opportunity to mother my children 24 hours a day. Jeff and I have made a choice for me to stay home, and that choice involves sacrifice of certain material comforts. But it involves great joy as well. And last night I recognized, maybe for the first time since Charlie was born, that I’m exactly where I want to be. Yes, there are days when staying home is frustrating and I feel isolated and frumpy. There are days when I wish I could go off to work, accomplish tasks, interact with adults, and forget about the five loads of laundry that are waiting to be done. And these are the desires I’ve been focusing on for too long, thinking that I’ve been plopped into this season of life with no choice in the matter.

Then today I caught up on the blog of an incredible woman from Kansas. I highly recommend that you read it too. Jeff went to high school with Joel and Jess McClenahan. I’ve only met them once or twice, but their story of recently losing their 11-month-old daughter, Cora, to cancer has weighed on me heavily, as it has on the thousands of people who know them or know of them. Jess’s amazing perspective on life — her recognition of her dependence on God; her gratitude for the 11 months that she and Joel had Cora in their lives; and her transparency and humility to admit that grief is hard and ugly — had me in tears for a good portion of the afternoon, and reiterated my sentiments of last night: that motherhood is a gift. That Charlie has been given to me for this time, and I can’t waste it by wishing it were easier or more comfortable.

Today, for the first time in a long time, I felt eager and antsy for Charlie to wake up from his nap. When he finally did, I smiled as I listened to his sweet little voice calling “Mommy? Mommy?” And I scooped him up and held him close as he snuggled into my neck. These are the moments I don’t ever want to forget.

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5 responses to “Perspective

  1. Jess you have such a beautiful perspective…one I hope to have someday. 🙂

  2. Speaking of tears …

  3. Marilyn Reimer

    Tears from me too. So beautifully written, Jess.

    Here’s a quote from Gloria Gaither:
    “Only at birth and death do we get real about life.”
    And another:
    “We have this moment to hold in our hands and to touch as it slips through our fingers like sand. Yesterday’s gone and tomorrow may never come, but we have this moment today.”

    When kids are little it seems like the demands are forever, but they’re not. These days and years will have passed quickly when you look back as you are taking them to Kindergarten…or attending graduation.

    You have gained a perspective that many gain too late.

  4. Thanks for this post Jess! I needed this reminder today. I hope you don’t mind that I’m sharing your post with friends!

  5. I have this cartoon where this “put-together ” woman is sitting next to a haggard, worn-out mommy. Toys are strewn everywhere. The one lady says to the mom “I envy you not having to work”. Ha! Motherhood is MUCH work! But the “pay” is great! One tip I got as a young mom that I loved was this: when your child is fussy and whiny, sometimes what they are really wanting is a little mommy time. Take a few minutes away from house-cleaning to read to them, snuggle and then get them into play time.

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