Earlier today, my sweet 5-year-old Moses asked me:
- “Remember when we goed to the store?”
- Me: “When we WENT to the store?”
- “Yes I remember…”
Then this just happened:
- “I writed my name….”
- Me: “I WROTE my name.”
- “Wrote my name.”
and I realized– when I started out, I didn’t know how constant this mothering job would be. I didn’t realize, going into it, how much it would take up my whole life.
Once your child begins to scoot around on the ground, and blow out food on his spoon, and reach up to touch outlets, it doesn’t ever stop. Correcting, teaching, and shaping our kids becomes the all-encompassing task of all day everyday.
Motherhood means giving constant explanations— what? why? how do I? when will we? why don’t we? how does that work?
- “Why do we buy the store brand for some things but not others?”
- “Are you planning to homeschool me all the way through high school? Will we homeschool for college, too?”
- “I just counted my money. What Christmas presents can I get for ________ with three dollars and 87 cents?”
- “Why does my bike seat keep getting loose?”
- “Why does that family do X but we do Y?”
- “Can I go Nil with this hand? Why not?”
For the young woman contemplating motherhood or homeschooling, consider this a friendly heads-up.
You will be pouring out all day long.
It’s a wonderful pouring out, but don’t discount it as easy.
Don’t make the mistake I did, of not rightly anticipating just how much it would take from you. When I was babysitting, it was all fun and games. I could wrestle for an hour, get them to eat their vegetables, play hide and seek, snuggle and tell made-up stories, even wipe down the kitchen mess, and go home with energy to spare.
But babysitting for a few hours, and then going home, is not the same as mothering for a few hours in your own home in a string of days in a string of years.
Set accurate expectations for yourself: It is a LOVELY, eternal thing to be able to shape young hearts and minds– there is no influence in the world like that of a mother who is daily, moment by moment, discussion by discussion, shaping the minds of her young ones.
But make no mistake: there is a cost for all that influence.
- It takes all you’ve got.
- It keeps taking even when you’re tired, even when you’re “talked out,” even when you’re “touched out,” even when you’d rather just go get a nap or enjoy a few hours of silence, PLEASE!
- It costs your conversation.
- It requires your time.
- You’ve gotta have a willingness to take time for thinking, weighing things out, considering, reconsidering.
- It means a continual fight against selfishness, self-indulgence, and laziness.
- It takes a willingness to keep discussing why and how, answering the same questions posed in different ways with subsequent children.
Being an interactive mother means things like sharing the reasons behind why you buy generic in some things, but why you’re willing to pay full price for other things. It means getting up to discipline your child for the 86th time, when you’d rather just sit and enjoy some peace and quiet. It means taking advantage of little moments to teach big lessons… in an ongoing way, in a string of days, in a string of years.
Mothering through the “whys” and “hows” will undoubtedly bring exhaustion, but it is a good and worthy exhaustion.
For those of you who are already moms, let this be a confirmation: this is why you’re so tired at the end of a day, even if your house looks like you accomplished nothing.
And for those of you who are not yet moms, let this be a heads up to help you arm yourself with accurate expectations: motherhood means teaching them all day long.