Thanks to all of you who left kind and wise comments on my post about mothering woes. It is definitely good to be reminded of the big picture. I know my children have a loving mother and father, which is a lot more than a lot of children. And I also know that if I can teach them to love God and love their neighbor then I am getting the essentials. I needed those reminders and am thankful for other people who can bring them to me.
But I do think I am in a place where God is trying to teach me something, to humble me a bit, and to bring me into a better sense of calling. You see, I don't really feel like I have grasped my calling as a mother. Sure I love my kids, feed them, dress them, get up with them at night, and occasionally even do fun things with them, but I don't see myself as a mother. I know that most moms have a desire to be involved in activities and work and relationships outside of mothering, and I think that desire is a healthy one. But my problem seems to go beyond that. I'm not sure that I can describe it well except by contrast to other mothers I know.
Many mothers I know seem to have a real sense that their priority right now is their children. Beyond just meeting their physical needs, they take time to reflect on how to parent their children well. They sincerely desire what is best for each child, worrying in a good way whether or not they are meeting each child's needs. They have an intuition about how each child will respond to a given situation, and they work to accommodate that. Of course, there is a fine line between letting the child dictate one's life and working to accommodate a child's needs, but these moms seem to have found a balance. In other words, they see themselves as the person to whom their children look for guidance and comfort and security, and they are willing to do what it takes to maintain that trust. Though mothering may no always be joyful, they find joy in seeing themselves as mothers and in doing their best to fulfill their calling. I sense this when I hear them talking about their children, and I wonder how I am missing it.
I think this is what I mean when I say I am missing a parenting gene. Or maybe I am just late getting on the boat. I know I am a mother, but I have not accepted my calling to motherhood to its fullest. I have good moments, but I have not made this role, these relationships, this calling a part of my identity in a way that allows me to truly parent selflessly and with a sense of God's leading. I don't commit time to considering my children's needs or my parenting strategies. My husband and I don't often have conversations about how we parent. We just sort of go through life hoping we don't screw our kids up too badly.
I'm not saying that all of this reflection is necessary for good parenting. People in different circumstances around the world certainly don't have the luxury to worry about their parenting styles when they just worry about having enough food. And parenting young children definitely leaves less time for reflection than I will have once they get older. But I do think God is calling me to really consider the implications of this privilege of motherhood that I have been given and to start getting serious about it in a way that I haven't before. I think it has to start in prayer, for me and for my kids, and in an ordering of my house around love of God and neighbor. I'm going to pick this book up again, since I started it months ago and never got very far.
Thanks again, for listening to this rambling topic. I think it is more for my own reflection, but if it can encourage someone else or bring encouragement to me through my readers, then I am glad.