We recently moved, requiring me to purge and pour over old papers at the bottom of boxes and stuffed in ratty folders. Papers that I don’t even recognize when I read, even though I wrote them. Papers that gave me goosebumps and made my heart pitter-patter with author pride. Man, I used to be good. Writing is an art, and I was an artist. And the reading. I used to READ. When I was done reading, I had thoughtful, insightful, colorful things to say. To write.
I have a disgusting number of ‘friends’ (as Facebook defines them) participating in big, important aspirations. They splash Facebook and Instagram with pictures and updates about grad schools, prestigious programs, important jobs, and worldly travels. Many are working toward fancy degrees at even fancier schools. They’ve earned big awards and got promoted in big jobs. They’ve literally traveled the world and shared photographs from places that might as well be fictional to me. They’re involved in world-changing research, writing at my “fantasy” job, and just signatures away from being doctors, lawyers, and Pulitzer Prize winners. Not to mention most of them are fit, tan, and effortlessly stylish.
Some days the most exciting part is when I find some chocolate I forgot about in the cupboard, my two year old goes potty in the toilet without me being in the bathroom, or Matt simply comes home. Yesterday (or it may have even been today) I ate some crackers that were so stale Henry wouldn’t eat them–and he eats crayons. Instead of fancy accessories I usually wear spit-up on my shirt and applesauce in my hair. I sweep the floor 42 times a day (only a mild exaggeration) and know all the words to the Thomas the Train opening song. My vocabulary now includes frequent uses of “let’s go potty,” “that’s not a hat,” and “is that poop?”
But you know what else?
Most of my ambitious, successful friends aren’t married, and none of them have kids. They think they’re celebrating their youth and traveling to heaven on earth.
I’ve been to heaven on earth, it’s in the next room. Heaven on earth cuddles with a new stuffed bunny while he snores and coos in her sleep. Heaven on earth gives tiny hugs and big smiles. It smells like baby breath in my face at 3 am and feels like drooly kisses on my nose. Heaven on earth is being loved despite the mom-jeans and spit-up and getting long kisses goodnight. It’s pillow talk at midnight and makes me laugh until I cry. It’s having someone to make and share a lifetime of memories with. The 4,152 pictures and videos on my phone capturing giggles, songs, smiles and first steps trump any collection of pictures taken around the world, no matter how breathtaking or historical.
While I won’t be receiving any prestigious awards or getting promoted any time soon, I can cook dinner, talk on the phone, set the table, unload the dishwasher and put a kid on the toilet one-handed while bouncing a baby. I’m a master negotiator and gourmet chef. I can carry a toddler, baby in a baby carrier, and at least two bags of groceries up a flight of stairs without blinking an eye. Motherhood has given me the opportunity to discover new talents and skills. It’s forced me to stretch and grow in ways never possible sitting at a desk somewhere exotic writing incredible thoughts. I can say with confidence that I’ve learned more about life, death, and everything in between from my little corner than they have in all corners of the earth.
We live in a society that practically dismisses motherhood altogether; at the very least patronizes it. Even in conservative Indiana I get comments like, “So…what do you do all day?” Like, I couldn’t possibly have anything to occupy my time with. Or comments about how much I must miss “working.” I can’t deny that I like the taste of success and the sound of praise (that’s why I have a narcissistic blog I brag on). It makes me sad that my own writing and thinking is a little lack-luster compared to my pre-mom days. But what I’m doing is important, and very literally contributes to society.
Don’t get me wrong, what my friends are doing is important. And good. And noble. I hope for their success in everything they work toward. My friend who’s working on research on the cure for colds and cancer and other horrible diseases, I really hope she’s successful. I recognize that there is merit in traveling and learning about the world, and I hope to join them. Just not yet.
I’m not writing this to try and elevate myself above my friends making their way in the world, or as a statement of “moms work hard.” I’m not saying that I can’t be a good writer and a mom, I can if I prioritized it higher.
I’m writing to say this: What I do is important too, and brings me joy. And no one is *just* a mom.
To be a mother is a woman’s greatest vocation in life. She is a partner with God. No being has a position of such power and influence. She holds in her hands the destiny of nations, for to her comes the responsibility and opportunity of molding the nations’ citizens. Spencer W. Kimball
I’m changing the world, just in a quieter way.