Thursday, 4 February 2010
The Sisterhood of Mothering: Finding Joy
When I wrote my last post, I knew it was risky. I knew that asking for advice and opinions on something as personal and protected as mothering might result in some misunderstanding, in some platitudes too simple or slightly off.
And that did happen, but it’s OK. One reader called me “desperate” (in what she thought was a helpful way.) Another said that she also sometimes wished she wasn’t a mother.
It’s not that I don’t want to be a mother, or that I feel desperate and I’m about to give up (though to be fair, I did use the word “desperately” in the post). It’s not that I believe it’s not all it’s cracked up to be, or that I wish I could back out. I just want to find the joy again. I want to clear the cobweb of poor habits and bad communication, and enjoy mothering more minutes of the day.
I knew most of you knew. You could place yourself in my shoes that morning, you’d had explosive blowups with your kids, you had mornings that didn’t go well, you wanted to take something back.
And I got perfect gems of advice, love and understanding. Give thanks. Have reasonable expectations. Build in margin. Make room for their unique needs. Be intentional. Ask God for joy. Build the relationship first.
I’ve been assembling a record of memory in my mind, those moments I’ve found crazy joy in mothering even when it feels like herding cats (50 percent of mothering is containment, a friend told me). I find joy in mothering when:
I am intentional about how I spend the next hour
I can look in their eyes and watch resistance melt away because they are understood
I expect them to get caught up in play and forget what I’ve asked
I have time to sit still and watch them be themselves, when the joy in who they are overwhelms
I respect them and they return the effort
I have enough time, even with inevitable delays and things forgotten, to finish the tasks of a morning or afternoon
We can get out the damn door in time for school without yelling
Alright, maybe the last one is more a sense of accomplishment, but all the same. The day is better when that happens. The other items in the list help it happen.
When I decided this blog’s theme was honesty, I knew I might be misunderstood. One day, I’m sure someone will be offended (maybe that’s today). But if I weren’t honest about the war I was waging in my mind last week, I wouldn’t have peace about it today. If I just kept muddling through without admitting that something was wrong and I wanted to find a way out, I would still be back there. And I would feel alone.
Because of your comments, emails and words of encouragement — even if it was that you “liked” the post or said you appreciated it, I knew you were there with me. You reminded me that I don’t have to walk this mothering road in the dark. I have the light of my sisters to help guide me, who let me know they’re right there in step with me, and are willing to humbly share the way they’ve found back to joy.
That makes the honesty worth it. That makes the risk of being misunderstood OK.
So thank you.
What do you need to be honest about today? Whatever it is, know this: You’re not alone.