Motherhood is part of my calling, but it's not the sum total of my entire existence. I love my children more than life itself and would gladly--GLADLY--give my life for any of them, but I also know that motherhood is not my highest calling.
Maybe what I'm really objecting to is the common practice within contemporary Christian culture of placing a "highest/lowest" value judgment on just one portion the female existence. We've elevated the vocation of motherhood to The Holiest of Them Allllllllllll.
Don't get me wrong; it's a sacred vocation for sure. But the way Christians talk, it's like a woman hasn't FULLY LIVED unless she's given birth. She is viewed almost suspiciously, as if she is only half-matured and perhaps a little broken/damaged.
There is very little value placed on the single or childless woman.
This incredible weight of expectation places an almost impossible burden on mothers and non-mothers alike.
When we artificially inflate the importance of motherhood, then average, everyday, good-enough mothers are always found lacking. I simply can't live up to the expectations. No matter how hard I try, I always feel like I SHOULD be doing more and doing it better.
I've never heard once heard a Christian mom say to another mom, "Hey, it's OK. You're doing a good-enough job." Because it's never really OK for Christian moms to do a "good-enough" job. We're always supposed to be striving for something higher, better and more perfect.
Well, I'm done with all that.
I mean, the last time I felt like I had it all together as a mother I was pregnant with my first child. That was twelve years ago and if I keep trying to work harder, be better, strive for more perfection--I will ALWAYS be that perpetually stressed-out, too-busy-to-enjoy-my-life person. And my children will all grow up before I've even made time to enjoy them.
Living a fulfilled, abundant life didn't happen automatically just I happened to have a fertile womb. This is simply the life God gave me. I didn't ask for it. I didn't pray for it. And without meaning to sound egregiously ungrateful, there are days when I wonder why He gave me more than I can handle (because contrary to popular opinion, God often DOES give us more than we can handle--for me, at least, it was because I needed to learn the hard way that I can't control everything!).
Worst of all, the heavy burden of expectation pushes us to push our children in academics, in sports and in religion. I've heard Christian mothers say that their biggest fear is that their children will grow up and leave the faith. I know I should probably be more worried about this.....but (gasp!) I'm not.
I guess I just don't think that's within my control. Yes, I can pray. Yes, I can do all the "right" Christian things. But ultimately, my children will have to make their own choice and no amount of my worrying is going to change that.
I'm beginning to think that what my children--and what the whole world!--needs is less mothers who are overprotective, hyper-involved, hanging-on-their-child's-every-move. Maybe what our kids need are mothers who enjoy their lives and are happy.
I know! Subversive, right?
I'm not saying that being a super-involved mother and being happy are mutually exclusive, but I do think I can do a better job at doing LESS and enjoying my life MORE.
If there is a "highest" calling, maybe it's to enjoy this one, wild, precious life and by my happiness, bring joy to the heart of my Father.