Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Motherhood – Complex, Mysterious, Misunderstood

    With mother’s day approaching, I wrestle in my mind (as I often do) with the question: what is it to be “mother”?  Hidden behind the soft curls that hang around her face, or behind the gentle pleats of her skirt, a power emerges that is mysterious and profound.  It cannot be fully defined.  To be mother is to be a silent lover.  It is to be the one who gives when others know not how.  It is the one who loves when hope seems lost.  It is the one who silently cares for the sick, the needy, and the crying babies.

    There are a thousand little sacrifices and a hundred ways your heart ebbs and flows as you lay your life out in love for others, and no one knows them but you.  That’s part of the mystery of mother.  To be mother is to be a mystery, for it is not her nature to boast of her love, but simply to give that love away!  She is the tireless warrior of the heart. 

You know the long answer I have when you say "What did you do today?"  Well, today I didn't do it!

    With this reflection and encouraging story, we give up a big CHEER! for all mothers in whatever capacity you are living out your motherhood!  God sees the million ways you love!  Your efforts are not in vane!  You are doing a fantastic job!  May your efforts be blessed and may you feel loved.

    Today we get to hear the heart of another woman.  Angela Schutt is an amazing person.  She shares her personal development in her understanding of motherhood.  We all live it out in different ways, and it’s so fun to hear our different stories.  This story is not as much about that bond between mother and child and what that does to you, as it is about the woman herself and what living out your motherhood does to you.  Honest, heartfelt, and real, this is Angela’s story. 

    “When I graduated from high school in 2003 I had a scholarship to college in Minnesota and a pretty solid plan in place for my life. I had always been passionate about helping others and I had found my calling in Social Work.  I married my high school sweetheart, Brad, during our junior year of college and became pregnant during my internship. When I was about 5 months pregnant I graduated from college and was immediately offered a position as a Child Protection Social Worker for Clay County in Minnesota. I was thrilled! Life was right on track: I was married to the man I loved, I had been offered my “dream job” and we would soon be having our first child! That’s when things got really complicated.

Angie and Brad

    Emily was born 6 weeks early by emergency c-section. She had a condition called Pierre Robin Sequence, which is a rare disorder.  She was in the NICU in Fargo for a month, and then the NICU in Minneapolis for a month before we got to bring Emily home. By then, I had used up most of my maternity leave. Despite several surgeries, Emily could not eat normally and was still getting most of her nutrition through a G-tube in her tummy. As a child, my mom had stayed home with us and I had thoroughly enjoyed every minute of it. I had always thought that I’d stay home with our kids too. Suddenly though, we were looking for daycare.  Finding a daycare that would take Emily with her G-tube and that passed my inspection was a nightmare but we finally settled on one and I went back to work.

    We were at our 3rd daycare when Landon was born 20 months later. Although we had finally found a wonderful daycare, I couldn’t push aside the feeling that I should be raising my own children, rather than caring for so many other people’s children while mine were in daycare. We began trying to find a way for me to be home with our kids and our prayers were finally answered in the fall of 2009. Brad was offered a job in our home town in South Dakota. We had to move quickly so my parents graciously allowed us to take over the basement of their home until we could find a place of our own.

    In my mind, I had thought that if I were home all day, I could keep the house clean and in good order. I would be organized and efficient; after all, I was a professional. I quickly discovered that, although I had desperately wanted to be home with our kids, it would not be easy for me!

    As a Social Worker, I had gained respect from my co-workers, the local law enforcement, and even the courts. I was able to set my own schedule and usually had my lunch break to interrogate my co-workers about which tactics were best whenever I was questioning my own mothering strategies. Now that I was home all day with a two year old and a 5 month old, everything changed! They set the schedule for each day: everything we did revolved around naps and meals. My self-image was rocked hard. I had been a straight A student in high school, graduated from college cum lade, and I was proud of my accomplishments. I was suddenly in a world where no one noticed or complimented me for my accomplishments. Furthermore, I had trouble seeing any accomplishments in the work I did all day every day. The cooking, doing dishes, changing diapers, wiping noses, picking up toys, playing peek-a-boo….repeat, repeat….it all seemed so insignificant comparatively and my self-esteem began to drop.

    My relationship with my husband changed too. We had previously shared the domestic duties like cooking, cleaning and laundry. Now that I was home all day, I began taking on those duties alone. Brad never implied that I should do so, but I was home during the day so it made sense that I would do those tasks. Soon I resented getting up first, but still being the one to make the bed. I resented putting away his clothes. I ran all day long but when he finally got home, the house often looked like a tornado had just passed through.   I began to feel like one of the kids, vying for Brad’s time and attention when he got home from work each day.

    Most of my childhood had been spent on a farm so living in the country again, compared to our small apartment, was a welcome change. Still, there were many times when I craved adult interaction and desperately missed the companionship I’d had at work.

    I struggled, but slowly I began to see huge changes in myself. I grew in my confidence regarding the decisions I had to make for my children each day. I boldly took both the kids grocery shopping and even learned to say “no” when helpful employees attempted to bribe my screaming toddlers with cookies. I began to see my growing relationships with my children as my achievements, and I began to recognize how much value that held – even more than the respect of judges.

    I have been a stay-at-home mom for 2.5 years and we now have 3 children. I can take them all grocery shopping and even to the swimming pool - by myself! I am learning how to better prioritize my time and how to enjoy playing with my children, even if it means the house gets destroyed. I still have days when 4:30pm rolls around and I want to lock myself in the bathroom just to be alone, but I am growing. And so are my children. And I wouldn’t change my circumstances for anything in the world!” – Angela Shutt.

The Schutt family thanks to Reminiscence Photography for the pic!
Angie, thank you so much for opening up your heart to us today!  What an honest look at your life and your struggles, but how you love your mothering despite it all! 

This is such a great reminder to all moms (whether physical or spiritual motherhood), that it’s okay to not be perfect!  It’s okay to struggle and fake your way through sometimes!  Being a mother is a daunting and magnificent task.  It is a moment where God allows us to love as He loves.  (No wonder we feel we fall short!)  But just as Angie does, let us embrace our motherhood and thank God that He can write straight with crooked lines!

Happy Mother’s Day!

Well, that’s my view of it and I welcome yours!  (Please leave comments below!)
And please SHARE with others!
Follow me on Twitter!! @newfeminism