I’m wrestling with a behemoth of my own making. I’m trying to find space in my weekly schedule for two voice lessons. Both Baby and Baba want to develop their musical repertoire, which has been poorly served by me so far. It’s needed for sure, but I am stretched pretty thin. As X-Man’s schooling continues, and adding extra speech therapy on, the few remaining hours of the day not filled with work obligations for me, or schooling for the kids, are pretty much packed. Shockingly, the girls’ voice lessons instructor does not have a wide open schedule allowing us to parachute in whenever we see fit. Too many balls in the air, not enough hours to catch them.
This is chaos of my own creation. I try not to complain too much, I did this to myself. A helpful father, not the father figure, pointed said “this is all your fault, you had all the kids.” Well yeah, true enough. And spoken like a man. Four kids in activities might just be the straw the breaks me. Well, more like a four by four. While trying to arrange carpools, I get sympathetic comments from moms along with the comment “You’re such a good mom. Nicer than me.” I smile and desperately hope they are right. I do so want to be a good mom.
I’m fairly certain that the complexity of my schedule is not an accurate measure of my fittingness as a parent. I hope it’s not a strike against me. I figure it simply indicates when it comes to my children; my primary love language is acts of service.
There’s an overarching theme to parenting these days. Maybe it’s due to social media, maybe it’s Pinterest. But mostly likely it’s just the human condition. We seem to assume that the more difficult something is, the nobler it is. The harder something is then the more superior it is. And if we make things harder for ourselves then we are better for it. This mindset seems particularly prevalent when it comes to modern motherhood.
Look at the modern trends and fads in online mothering. Cloth diapering. Baby wearing. Extended nursing. Co-sleeping. Unmedicated childbirth. Homemade baby food. Homeschooling. All of these are wonderful things. Not one of them makes one a good mother. The whole kit and caboodle won’t guarantee anything. Nor will the failure to practice one or all of these condemn your children to a subpar childhood.
Motherhood isn’t supposed to be martyrdom. Motherhood of itself is sacrificial. There’s no need to make it more challenging. Your children will do that enough for you. Whatever works for your family, that’s enough. But weighing yourself down under a yoke that is overburdened with unrealistic expectations from an online presence won’t bring your children anything better. Suffering shouldn’t be the measure by which we judge something.
The measure of anything, but most especially motherhood, should be the love by which it if done. When we think about what we owe our children, it’s not artisan steamed vegetables consumed while wearing hemp diapers. We owe them the peace and security that comes from a loving home, a stable home. And that peace, that love, that’s going to look different in every family. It’s going to look different child to child. It might take the form of a baby wearing mother who shares her bed with her babies. It might take the form of a mom who utilizes daycare disposable diapers. Maybe even looks like a mom who spends every night running to soccer practices.
It’s not about what we do. It’s about why we do it. The varying love languages and personalities make sweeping statements and general conclusions impossible about love. At least as it is manifested to the outside eye. We all want the best for our children. We all want to give them the world. But we don’t all have the same abilities and circumstances, the same personalities. And so we can’t give the same. But that’s not a failing. That’s not being a lesser parent. And more importantly, that’s not denying your children anything. Motherhood by its nature is sacrificial. You give of your body, your mind, your heart, your energy. Motherhood is the hard path. Making it harder for yourself doesn’t make it better.
If your kids enjoy playing multiple sports, then have them play several sports. But having your kids in multiple sports doesn’t make you a good mom. If homeschooling works for your family, then embrace it. But don’t homeschool because that’s what good moms do. If exotic home cooked meals aren’t your gift, don’t force yourself into that mold. That path just ends in frustration and exhaustion. Give what you can to your children. Give yourself. Give who you are. Because that’s who they want.
All of this rambling doesn’t actually help me with my current predicament. But it’s my source of comfort as we look forward to another week of crockpot meals. Which is good because Cinco’s asking me when she gets to take swimming lessons. Also, she wants to be on the pink soccer team. Sign me up. Or commit me. It really could go either way.