Monday, February 14, 2011

How To Know Whether Or Not You Are Ready To Be a Mother

From the Krogh Biology textbook. I used this pic in a powerpoint on sexual reproduction. Notice the exhausted parents in the background.

While I was still pregnant, I found this in a joke section of a newspaper, ripped it out, and stuck it on the fridge. I noticed it there today while I made my coffee, and read it over again, now in the light of actually being a mother.

How To Know Whether Or Not You Are Ready To Be a Mother
Mess Test: Smear peanut butter on the sofa and curtains. Place a fish stick behind the couch and leave it there all summer.
Toy Test: Obtain a 55 gallon drum of LEGOs (if LEGOs are not available, you may substitute roofing tacks). Have a friend spread them all over the house. Put on a blindfold. Try to walk to the bathroom or kitchen. Do not scream (this could wake a child at night).
Grocery Store Test: Borrow one or two small animals (goats are best) and take them with you as you shop at the grocery store. Always keep them in sight and pay for anything they eat or damage.
Dressing Test: Obtain one large, unhappy, live octopus (they turn bright red when they are unhappy). Stuff into a small net bag, making sure that all arms stay inside.
Feeding Test: Obtain a large plastic milk jug. Fill halfway with water. Suspend from ceiling with a stout cord. Start the jug swinging. Try to insert spoonfuls of soggy cereal (such as Fruit Loops or Cheerios) into the mouth of the jug, while pretending to be an airplane. Now dump the contents of the jug on the floor.
Night Test: Prepare by obtaining a small cloth bad and fill it with 8-12 pounds of sand. Soak it thoroughly in water. At 8:00 p.m., begin to waltz and hum with the bag until 9:00 p.m. Lay down your bag and set your alarm for 10:00 p.m. Get up, pick up your bag, and sing every song you have ever heard. Make up about a dozen more and sing these too until 4:00 a.m. Set alarm for 5:00 a.m. Get up and make breakfast. Keep this up for five years. Look cheerful.
Physical Test: Obtain a large beanbag chair and attach it to the front of your clothes. Leave it there for 9 months. Now remove ten of the beans.
Final Assignment: Find a couple who already have a small child. Lecture them on how they can improve their discipline, patience, tolerance, toilet training and child's table manners. Suggest many ways they can improve. Emphasize to them that they should never allow their children to run wild. Enjoy this experience. It will be the last time you will have all the answers.

I know the intent of this was to be humorous. And I do think it's amusing. But it did get me thinking about how you hear a lot of jokes or groans from parents about how difficult it is to have children. And I can't help but think that that mindset must be self-defeating sometimes. Or, even worse, give a skewed impression to those who don't yet have children, and make them even more wary of parenthood.

"For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven" (Ecc. 3). For many people, there is a time for being a child, and a time for being a parent. So many these days seem to seek perpetual childhood or adolescence. Wanting the freedom to do what they like, and have only themselves to care for. No one is supposed to live this way forever. And to think that you are entitled to the same freedoms as a parent that you enjoyed before will only sow bitterness towards parenthood, or even the children themselves.

Children are painted too often as burdens. As a source of grief and trouble. And the truth is - yes, it turns your whole world upside down sometimes. You are no longer the priority - your child is. Maybe you have to give up a career you enjoyed, stop going out at night, find yourself with little time to exercise/craft/read/etc.. Maybe you barely have time for a shower, even, and never get a full night of sleep again.

But the joys of it all are innumerable. And I think if people can "survive" the crazy ride of parenthood without going too crazy themselves, and without grumbling too much, they will come out on the other end better people, holier people.

No one is ever "ready" to be a mother. There's so much more to it than just the day-to-day care that the above joke has you "testing" for. I think most of the time, you just kind of stumble through it, try things out, make it up as you go along. But the happy news is that God is continually pouring out His graces to assist you the whole way.

Besides, all of us had parents of our own, and they went through this. They put up with years of our poopy diapers, our temper tantrums, our messes and mistakes and disobedience. And do we ever stop to think about that? I never understood HOW MUCH my parents loved me until I had my own child. How much of themselves they have given me, and continue to give. I was given so much, and it would be selfish to just keep it all for myself. It's time to share that with others.

Children are not burdens. In giving them to us, God entrusts us with a huge responsibility. We should feel only extreme gratitude for the trust He puts in us - the great opportunity He has given us. An opportunity not only to educate and enjoy our children, but to attain holiness ourselves. And of course, this doesn't come easily. But nothing worthwhile ever does. Parenting is a great privilege - to have an instrumental role in helping to form a person. In having chief responsibility for caring for one of God's beloved - body and soul. You get to help make that child who he is - to raise him on the good foods of virtue, obedience, faith, love. To help him build memories and knowledge of what is good and true.

It's okay - and I'd guess completely natural - to feel a little scared about the great responsibility laid before you as a parent. But it's wrong to feel scared because of the thought of what you will have to give up, and all the ways your life will change. Wrong to doubt God's plans, and the sweetness of his graces.

It's so amazing to watch my baby growing and learning. That is a gift greater than any I could hope for. Just last night, he was able to sit up all by himself for an extended period, without falling. Such a simple, natural thing. Something he would have learned eventually, with or without me. But I got to witness it. I knew what an accomplishment it was for him. And he made me so overwhelmingly PROUD.

1 comment:

  1. I'm a new reader to your blog and really appreciated this post. Not only was the comic commentary hilarious, but your insights into being a selfless parent really hit home for me. I have a two year old and five month old and no, I didn't get a shower today. I often struggle with not having the freedom I once enjoyed, but your post has given me a new perspective on what it means to be a parent. Thank you!