“Giving it all away”

motherhood / Monday, April 5th, 2010

Want vs. Calling part II

A few weeks ago I saw an ad for a watercolor painting class. It was to be held in the local botanical gardens and was for beginners, like myself, and was only $45 for 3 hours for 3 Saturdays. I imagined myself surrounded by the beautiful spring flowers with the sun warming my hair and skin, and the gentle spring breezes dancing through my hair while I made flowers come to life on my paint pad with my magical paintbrush.

So I called up the number on the ad and reserved my name before no more spots were left. I arranged for my parents to help with the kids while I set aside this time to live out my dreams for a few hours. I told my friends and family how excited I was about it. As the first day of class drew near, reality kept knocking on my bubble but I refused to let it be popped. After all, didn’t I deserve some time for myself? I cook, feed, dress, referee, and clean up baby puke all day long. Surely, a few hours alone to sit and paint was a reasonable aspiration?

But on that Saturday, I was rudely awakened with a huge to-do list. We needed meat, new church shoes that actually fit my daughter and would match her lovely grandma-made dress, and a shirt to match my own hand-made skirt amongst other priorities. My poor husband had been walking around for a few days with a detached head and stuffed-up nose. I looked at my baby who had been anything but peaceful during the days lately and knew. I knew what I had to do.

I didn’t want anyone to tell me, especially not my husband. So I took the crying baby upstairs, grabbed the phone and hid in my closet. I called and asked for refund explaining that I was a mom and had sick kids and well it just wasn’t going to happen. Thankfully, the woman on the phone understood and was very kind. I said thank you and hung up the phone and looked into the mirror.

There was a woman there holding her beautiful, sweet, innocent baby. I stared at her and remembered who I was. A mom. That’s who I am and that’s who I need to be right now.

I can hear feminist zealots accusing me of “throwing my whole life away”. I chose marriage and children instead of a complete “college experience”, I ‘stay at home’ with my children, don’t wear makeup on a daily basis, and hardly ever go anywhere without my children attached to my back, hands, or legs. And now, here I am taking care of my babes instead of painting the flowers.

They say I’m giving up my whole life. And I say, isn’t that the point? Isn’t that what God calls us to in our vocations- to give up our lives to whatever He wills? God made me a woman and as a woman He has additionally called me to be a wife and a mother. I must embrace my true and complete femininity by being the wife my husband loves and by being that mother my children need and deserve. I have my outlets and they help me be a better mom and wife. But I can’t let these supersede my most important responsibilities.

Evidently this is still incredibly hard to do. This blog post is for me and I hope I can remember that when I give up something I want for a higher calling, I can remember to do it with love. If my complaining starts to overpower my gratitude or I talk too much about the drudgery that is my life and how miserable I am, kindly refer me back to this post.

12 Replies to ““Giving it all away””

  1. This is beautiful, and so true. You’re so “real” Erika, I love it.

    God’s call to us as mothers is a big one, but with that comes big rewards (although at times that is hard to see). But the small things he sends us…smiley giggles from a happy baby boy, a daughter who learns to go to bed all by herself, I don’t know, those little “pats on the back” along the way sure help a lot. May your days be filled with those happy moments amidst the certain struggles, frustrations, and self-sacrificing.

    Really looking forward to the motherhood group, I think it will be good for all of us.

  2. Oh, and I hear you about the church shoes. Aaron and I joked that we had to cut Gemma’s toes off for her to fit in her shoes for Easter Sunday. Heavens, I’m happy she’s healthy and growing, but does she have to grow quite this quickly?!!

  3. thank you Monica. yes, sometimes I forget to appreciate those giggles and fun moments. Way to go on your little girl ‘growing up’ 🙂 Well, except for the shoe problem! 😉
    Yes I am getting excited for it also! Next week!

  4. This was wonderful Erika. And so very very true. I find myself in the same torn position almost daily. I am ready to run again, but to run means not to play with Brendan when we get home from work and daycare. I take him with me in the jogger, but its not the same b/c i can’t watch him take in his surroundings or talk to him about what we are going (b/c i am way too out of shape to talk and run at the same time!). But I am giving myself at least a few days a week to take that 30 minutes for myself. But as for all the other class type activities like you were considering, I tell myself that one day there will be time for them, it just might be after I am done having babies, get them all in school, and can take afternoons to myself without feeling guilty about not being with my family. But that is ok, b/c like you, I know that Jake and Brendan are more important than any thing else I could spend my time doing.
    I hope that one day soon you can take a painting class, and when you do that it will be a healthly (and non-fussy) family you leave at home.

  5. Ahhh, Lauren I feel you. I was thinking the other day they need to invent a stroller (jogging preferably) that lets the baby either face you or away. This could be helpful for avoiding wind or direct sunlight also. I’m actually hoping to at least find a good double jogger for a decent price soon. Maybe now that it’s nice you could jog to a nearby park and play for a bit and then jog back home? But at least you are together like you said.
    I think that I will probably always find something to be guilty about but in the end we have to just be happy with what we did and can do and let it be what it is.
    Yes, one day I’ll paint again and you’ll run and we’ll miss our little babies. 🙂

  6. Jackie had said you had written a really good blog post, and this certainly lived up to the hype! 🙂 I especially liked the looking in the mirror moment, and not just because it reminded me of Lost.

  7. I so needed this perspective especially this week. Gianna has stopped sleeping through the night (for now) and I have been really unhappy about this part of motherhood, the waking up at 5 am to nurse when we just did it a few hours before. It’s nice to have someone to remind me that there is beauty in the chaos that is motherhood. Thanks 🙂

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