As a young mother, I struggled. Other women made it look so easy to keep a house clean, keep everyone fed, laundry is done, and look beautiful while taking the children to do fun activities. I could usually manage about 2 of the 5 things on that list. It was exhausting and in the background of all this 'mothering', I was struggling with depression. How I wish I could go back to my 30-year-old self and just give her a big hug! She needed some love...and a day at the spa!!!
It was hard in the moment to appreciate all that I DID do. It was easier to see what I did not seem to be able to accomplish. It is rare to get gratitude from your children or anyone about how well you are doing as their mother and so it can feel like a thankless job! As the hours and days (sometimes minutes) ticked by, life seemed monotonous and not very significant at times. It was hard to feel like I was getting anywhere.
As I look back now, I see the beauty of all that was being built - minute by minute, hour by hour, day by day, as I look at the extraordinary lives of our children and who they have become. I hope this blog post offers some perspective to mothers who are still raising children.
Recently, I was listening to the funniest marriage therapist I have ever heard. Matt Townsend is amazing and I got to hear him speak at an evening event for couples at my church. He was talking about how men are stuck with three jobs - they have to preside, they have to provide, and they have to protect their families. Women, on the other hand, are only tasked with one...to nurture their families.
Now before any of you start defending, or getting upset at these statements, just know first of all, that I started laughing. I was not the least bit offended and have pondered the statement for months now! I loved it. One word to describe it all.
let's talk about exceptions
I was raised by a single mom. So here is a big shout-out to all the single mothers and single fathers who are doing all four jobs at once. It is exhausting! It is never-ending. It is the work of a saint and I applaud you! Here is to all the career women who are providing for their families and working in careers they love. I have run my own businesses (while raising my family) for 20 years now. I know your challenges. You are amazing. If there is anyone else that is outside of these criteria that is thinking about getting offended, could you just know - right now - I mean no offense by this blog post? Please don't tear it apart. If that is settled, then we can continue because I have some things I want to say.
I have been thinking about the word nurture. I thought first of the physical body. Mothers nurture the physical body for their children by providing healthy food, enforce bedtimes (sleep), fix wounds, change diapers, clothe and bathe children and so much more. The list seems never-ending when they are young, and such a relief when they grow older and can do some of that for themselves. But, nurturing the physical body is just the beginning.
Nurturing the mental body with truth, with education, with uplifting thought and conversation is a powerful part of raising a child. I think of my own mother who was the dean of the Humanities Dept. at our local community college (SLCC). She would come home with stories of amazing people from other cultures, other religions, other races, and share the most inspiring part of who they were and how they lived. Is it any wonder all of her 8 children grew up very accepting and openminded to all people? She made traveling the world seem like such a beautiful gift to get the opportunity to meet all of God's children. She nurtured our minds with positive thoughts about humanity as well as taught us the value of education.
Nurturing the spiritual body is a profound experience as we teach a child their origin. For the most part, I think a newborn baby reminds US of our origin! I love the quote from Charles Dickens that says: "It is not a slight thing when those, who are so fresh from God, love us." TRUTH! These angel children of ours given to us from God come dripping with divinity and it is up to us to make sure they don't forget. We nurture the spiritual body as we teach of prayer, teach of a heavenly home, teach of the light of Christ that is within every man, and help them learn how to connect to their heart which holds their divine connection. (photo credit: robinjohnsonphotography.com)
Nurturing the emotional body can in some ways be the most draining of all! haha. The emotions of a teenage girl can be overwhelming! I believe I nearly drove my sweet mother crazy. And what about our darling boys? Oh, how I wish they were taught that it is OK to have emotions!! They need to be taught what to do with emotions. The problem is - did anyone ever teach us? Rarely. So rarely. Yet, still, we nurture. We nurture the emotion when we allow them to feel - to be mad, to be sad, to be happy, to be excited. Feeling emotion is a gift of being human. Teaching them what to do next is key. Once they feel the emotions, what do they DO with the emotions? Let's nurture that part too!
So, yes, Matt Townsand, you can put a mother's job in one word - to nurture. But that one word holds the key to so many aspects of a child's life. We care for and encourage the growth and development of their physical body, their mental body, their spiritual body, and their emotional body, and that is a bucket load of work.
nurturing + time
Bless you, dear mothers and parents of young children. All of those beautiful minutes of nurturing, loving, teaching, listening, caring, disciplining, cleaning, feeding, and carrying your children add up! They combine to create a beautiful and powerful environment for your child to grow. They create the space for a child to connect to their heart. One day, you will be like Andrew and me - empty nesters - and you will wonder where the time has gone. (This was our Christmas card this year since there were no children around to be in the picture!!)
My husband heard a statistic on a podcast that I wish I had understood when my children were younger. Eighty percent of the time you will spend with your child in person over the course of their ENTIRE LIFE will be before they turn 18. So, know once they start leaving the nest, your time with them is SO LIMITED. I have seen the truth of this with our kids.
Don't give up! Don't give in. Your work is shaping the future of our world. You are raising our future leaders, philosophers, mothers, teachers, inventors, and builders. Your children are the hope of our future. Love, nurture, provide, preside, protect, and teach those beautiful gifts called children that you have been given. Your endless job of nurturing is the greatest gift you could give the world and I thank you for all you do!
Much love ~ Robin