Monday, October 21, 2013

What Really Matters


I took a week off and didn't even mean to.  Janey was a fussy short-nap teething baby, and then I had a wonderful bout of mastitis, and if you don't know what that is, consider yourself lucky.

Oh, motherhood.  It's wonderful but it's not always easy.  I often feel pulled in a thousand directions.  I remember a precious letter my grandmother, a mother of nine, sent to my mom, a mother of five that said exactly that.  It was wonderful to know that my grandmother felt the same, felt like we all do-that we are doing our best, day in and day out but still always have a pull to do better.  

And I loved this essay I read recently about stay at home moms.  I absolutely loved it.  To me it's a love letter written to his wife and his children. 

This is my favorite part of the article by Matt Walsh:
"Yes, my wife is JUST a mother. JUST. She JUST brings forth life into the universe, and she JUST shapes and molds and raises those lives. She JUST manages, directs and maintains the workings of the household, while caring for children who JUST rely on her for everything. She JUST teaches our twins how to be human beings, and, as they grow, she will JUST train them in all things, from morals, to manners, to the ABC’s, to hygiene, etc. She is JUST my spiritual foundation and the rock on which our family is built. She is JUST everything to everyone. And society would JUST fall apart at the seams if she, and her fellow moms, failed in any of the tasks I outlined."

It's weeks like I had last week that make me all the more aware of how much I am needed here.  I've written about it before, but I have to say it again.  It's not the easy fun weeks of motherhood that make it all worth it. It's not seeing the baby's first steps, or spending a beautiful day outside at the park for an hour, or the loving hugs or sweet kisses.  

It's the hard stuff.  It's the fussy baby that makes me feel like my head might explode.  It's the diaper doozies-the ones that require a bath, only because that tiny twenty five pound baby is so strong in her insistence to do flips on the changing table that I can't get clean what I need to get clean.  It's the intimacy of even changing a diaper and wiping private parts clean.  It's doing that twice or three times (or more!) a day.

I want it to be ME.  It MUST be me.  My head feels a hormonal buzzing noise when she whines that makes me go pick her up, no matter how tired I am, no matter how annoyed that whining combined with the need to hold her while I get other things done makes me feel, no matter how sore my arm, or how exhausted or sick I am.  

I want her to know that even when she is smellier than what a human nose is supposed to be able to handle, I adore her so much, I will change her lovingly as many times a day as it takes and as soon as possible.  She deserves to feel loved every moment, especially in these moments.  All babies deserve that. 

I remember long ago someone asked me what I tell my oldest daughter about pursuing her education, combining a career and mothering, balancing life.  

Really the answer to that question doesn't just apply to my daughter (daughters now)-I could possibly be blessed with four daughter-in-laws that will raise my grandchildren too.  And my sons and sons-in-law have just as much a part in parenting also.

I can tell you this-more than anything else in the world, I want them all-my sons, my daughters, my son-in-laws and my daughter-in-laws, to be intentional thoughtful present parents.

I want them to be able to have the courage and intelligence to take a step back and see life with a wide angle.  To not fall in line with the rat race of materialism but look and see the beauty of life and the gift, the incredible gift, of parenthood-to know what is really really important and beautiful and true.  I want them to question the main stream, and try not fall prey to the lies that bombard us every day and lead us astray.  I want them to know that all that the society rewards us for, is almost always never what deserves an accolade, and the quiet work of caring for a family and being a responsible member of the universe usually never gets a write up.

Really, I want them to not need rewards.  I want them to be able to be still.  To be patient. To trust.  To wait.  To have faith that living with pure intentions will bring a reward that none of us can ever imagine. That's essentially what parenting is about down to the core.

I want them to not be afraid to make big sacrifices of time and money.  I want them to know the importance of being financially responsible and cautious always, because in today's world it is not just a trait to be had but a necessity.  I want my daughters and sons and their spouses to work together to put parenthood first always and to use their gifts and talents and creativity and intelligence and perseverance to make that happen. I want them to know the real meaning of wealth.

I want them to have knowledge, book knowledge and field experience, in infant and child development.   I want them to see how very very much a baby needs his parents present, and that there is no substitute caregiver that can match a parent's level of care.  I want them to always consider the true needs of their babies, their toddlers, their children first, and to recognize that they are their children's only and best advocates. I want them to know they are utterly undeniably essential every day to their children.  I want them to know this so much that they can easily dismiss any suggestion otherwise.

I want them to know love and selflessness and intention and patience is involved in parenthood and that same care given by a parent can never ever be replicated by anyone else.  

I want my sons and daughters to know they can be different kinds of dads and moms but I want them more than anything to be present.  To be smart enough to know it's impossible to be two places at once, and choices and compromises will have to be made day by day, year by year, decade by decade, to make that happen between them.  I want them to know that what ever kind of moms or dads they are, being present is what matters.  Being present is everything. That they are enough as they are. They are what their child needs, just as they are, strengths and weaknesses, flaws and all, always, day in and day out.

It might, it will, require some sacrifice. All different kinds, not just monetary.  Sacrifice, yes!  It's not a bad word.  It's a beautiful word.  If we are lucky life is long, and there is time to do everything we want to do, but babies grow fast and children grow faster, and on our death beds I doubt we think of money, fame, or even accomplishments as worthy as they may be.  We think of the time we spent with our loved ones.

I want my children, in their role as parents, to know they were each born with incredible maternal and paternal instincts and not be afraid to feel those, or ever feel like they have to tame them and tamper them or deny them.  I know this task will sometimes seems effortless and sometimes it seems so daunting it will scare them to death.

I want them to know their worth as parents deeply, internally, unquestionably.

37 comments :

  1. I want them to not need rewards. I want them to be able to be still. To be patient. To trust. To wait. To have faith that living with pure intentions will bring a reward that none of us can ever imagine. That's essentially what parenting is about down to the core....LOVE!

    Beautifully expressed.

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    1. Love this that my sister commented and I am commenting right after her :). Sarah you wrote another masterpiece that echoes exactly what I would love my children to know in this life. Thank you again for being such a light in this world of selfishness and self absorption. You always help me with my perspective in parenting. Thank you again!

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  2. There's nothing like a week off of blogging for wisdom to spill out of your wonderful writing. Thanks for sharing Matt Walsh's essay. I find nothing more beautiful than a man who loves and respects motherhood. It will be interesting to watch our children's adult lives unfold. Teaching unselfishness is not easy, but I hope I have been able to do so by example. Being present and having intention are thoughts to hold onto. I finally sat down with my son and husband last night to play a game of Racko - seems like ages since I had played a game - and my college son called! (We usually just talk once a week.) Even while trying to be present I am not present. Thanks for reminding us about what is important.

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  3. I read that too and couldn't believe all of the negative feedback he received. How on earth people find the energy to complain that someone wrote something kind in this world of negativity I will never understand. I recently watched the movie I Don't Know How She Does It and felt so bad for the kids, makes me sad that that is the reality for so many families.

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  4. What a beautiful post. I need to read this everyday to remember i am doing what i need to be doing and that its so important. You are amazing.

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  5. Loved this post Sarah, just beautiful! I actually wrote something similar on my blog yesterday. Some days are so hard as a stay-at-home mom and you have to keep reminding yourself why you are doing it, this was a perfect explanation :).

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  6. "I want them to know love and selflessness and intention and patience is involved in parenthood and that same care given by a parent can never ever be replicated by anyone else." This is my favorite part of this wonderful and much-needed post of yours. You are so right and I am so blessed that if I have to work full-time (and yes I have to) that my Mother is able to give my children care in my place for those hours of the day. I never ever wonder if they are getting the level of care that I would give....I know they are because my Mother lived out and taught me to parent all the ways that you are describing above.

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  7. Sarah,
    You make me so proud to read your blog!! Today's post is beyond touching...thank you.
    Blessings,
    Cathy

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  8. Thank you for your words. They are what mothers need to hear. Thank you for reminding us of the important things and being a champion for motherhood.

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  9. I super needed this after the week I had. Thank you very much. Your blog is my absolute favorite ever.

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  10. LOVED this! It is the service that we render for our little ones that make our love grow for them. They are unable to do so many things for themselves, and every time we are given the opportunity to serve and help them our love strengthens and grows. Think of how much we appreciate someome that serves and helps us. :)

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  11. Ah so good, so true. Hugs to Clover Lane and everyone here! xoxo

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  12. I truly love this post, and your blog. I'm a young stay at home mother and I gather so much gentle wisdom from your blog. Thank you for this post Sarah :-)

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  13. beautiful... thanks for sharing your thoughts.

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  14. Thank you so much!!!! I love your posts so much I wish we were neighbors and old friends. You truly help us each remember the importance of what we do.

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  15. With you on every single word.
    Thank you, Sarah.
    Xx

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  16. Thank you so much for that beautiful comment about what you want for your children, and their spouses. It says exactly what I believe: that ALL parents should be that committed to parenthood, however you split the work that makes money and buys food and the work that involves diapers and vacuuming. I work part time, practicing medicine, which I love, helping my unfortunate patients, often in ways no one ever helped them before. While I work, my husband gets a chance to stay home - to be the parent at field trips and swim lessons, to know how frustrating it is to try and cook dinner with a toddler attached to your leg. I am grateful that we are able to have this split, I think it is good for us both and for our kids. I find that many of the stay at home mom essays in the blogosphere elevate that important work by implying "my children would suffer if I wasn't the one doing this job, right here, right now, and YOURS are suffering if you aren't home every second." It makes me wonder if I am doing the right thing, if I should be home full time. But then, there's so much my husband would miss out on, and our kids would miss out on from him! Your words about the intentional parenting from both women and men say beautifully what I truly believe; that is what our kids need and deserve.

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  17. Just beautiful Sarah. I was curious if you have any favorite child development books?

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    1. Hi Kelsey-I love everything that are Maria Montessori's teachings. Also my favorite child care books are by Dr. Sears.

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  18. I am de-lurking just to say, thank you. This is the second time this week I've been told (through others) to "be still." Thank you for providing that answer for me.

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  19. "It might, it will, require some sacrifice. All different kinds, not just monetary. Sacrifice, yes! It's not a bad word. It's a beautiful word. If we are lucky life is long, and there is time to do everything we want to do, but babies grow fast and children grow faster, and on our death beds I doubt we think of money, fame, or even accomplishments as worthy as they may be. We think of the time we spent with our loved ones."

    Well written. Great job, mom!

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  20. I have had an absolutely exhausting season (lasting over 2 years) of parenting. We are dealing with all kinds of serious issues over here and it's just wearing me out. But today, your words breathed a little life into me. I've been telling myself all afternoon "My children need me." Sometimes I get so bogged down with kid issues that I forget that they honestly and truly NEED me. Thank you so much, Sarah. I look forward to every post you write.

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  21. Loved this Sarah! I read that post from Matt Walsh too, and shared it with my husband and friends. I love what you wrote today. Thanks for sharing your thoughts, beliefs, and love of mothering.

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  22. Thank you for sharing this Sarah ! My husband always tells me and others that I have the toughest job of the two of us and I think he has a tough job being the breadwinner and putting in long hours at work away from us. (I am a proud stay at home mom, wife, and wearer of many hats and he is a hard working Data Center Mgr. awesome dad and husband, Cub Scout den leader etc...) We are each other's biggest fans and we appreciate each other !

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  23. Oh Sarah! Hooray for popping back in! Thank you for these sweet and resonating thoughts on motherhood! Always love your words! I had a rough moment last week when one of my boys was a little sassy--telling me he does way more than I do! Oooohhhhhhhh if only he knew! And while I was frustrated to say the least, it doesn't make me want to throw in the towel. No, motherhood is everything I've dreamed of---even the hardest parts, like you say. I love this when it hurts, and on the sweetest days too! I'm thankful for my babies everyday!!!

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  24. I've been reading your blog for a couple years now and everything you say about parenting resonates so deeply with me. Thank you for taking the time to post these thoughts. I often feel somewhat alone in this day and age regarding my view of parenting (very similar to yours if not just about exactly yours) and reading these kind of posts truly uplift me. I've actually stopped reading many other blogs...too much perfection. Staged perfection. Not that they made me feel inferior, just made me want perfect pictures of my kids in perfect outfits in perfect settings with perfectly tidied up backgrounds. Never have I left a blog feeling actually uplifted except yours. So again, thank you for taking the time to share.

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  25. Thank you Sarah once again. Love what you have written and even though I couldn't agree with you more it still serves as a good reminder to me, a mom, to BE PRESENT in my children's lives. Thank you. Thank you.

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  26. It's a great post and really how I was raised. Sadly though I know so many people that just cannot survive on one income and they have to go to work and leave their babies for someone else to watch during the day. Many of them are lucky enough to have a grandparent that is able to watch them and that I know is VERY lucky. Some are not as lucky and have to take their children to daycare. Daycare that they agonize over. I have watched a single mother that I work with totally agonize over her boys' care. She wished she could and wanted to take care of them herself but she could not. She would be homeless. So while I think that it's awesome that some of us are lucky enough to stay home with our children we need to remember that we are REALLY lucky and not just someone that is giving up a few material objects. Motherhood is hard for everyone even if you had to drop your child off at daycare so you can go to work and earn some money to buy them some food and put a roof over their head.

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    1. I agree with this. Sometimes circumstances are put upon mothers where they have no choice in staying home, no matter the number of sacrifices they could make. Someone needs to put a roof over these babies heads, food in their tummies, and provide the day to day necessitites. Sure, we would ALL love to have a husband who goes to work and provide an income exclusively allowing us mothers to be at home all day with babies...but sometimes the reality is much different.
      I choose to work every day, not because I don't love my children "enough" to want to be home with them all day. I choose to want not only motherhood but much more. I want a successful career, I want a daughter who is fully capable of learning by example that women don't HAVE to choose to be provided for when they have children. I want my sons to not bear the burden of believing that their sole purpose in life is to provide - that women CAN raise their children and more.
      I love this article, I think the premise is wonderful, however, I refuse to debate the WAHM vs. SAHM as BOTH are wonderful, but it's not ALWAYS such a simple decision.

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  27. my kids are grown and still at home. in college..due to economy...sorta...i mostly am at home, i work part time...they rely on me for a lot of meals...even though they do all things for themselves, im still busy here
    but do we all really need to be a such a hurry all the time...friends think i should "work"....and husband does too sorta...but we have enough...and i luv a clean house...because our house is somewhat small...so yea, luv the posts on mothering....luv Beth's post...and yes, im grateful i CAN stay at home mostly....

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  28. I love your blog. Well, more specifically, your words. Your down-to-earth focus on the things that are the most important, the eternal things, are so greatly needed today.

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  29. I needed this article today, thanks! I like reading your posts which, in my opinion, just show a mom who loves what she's doing, believes in it and doesn't feel like she has to make excuses for it! That's what I wish for everyone and that's what I aspire to myself. Whether you stay home or work outside the home---believe in what you're doing and just be the best Mom you can be. The grass isn't always greener on the other side.

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  30. I have been reading your blog for some time now and very much enjoy reading and sharing your thoughts. My children are grown and in fact my youngest, who joined the Army 6 months ago, is about to move 2000km away, meaning I will not see him very often. I am very proud of all my children but especially my son, but I am finding it a little difficult today to think of saying goodbye to him. I have been a stay at home Mum during their lives and now I am at the stage where whilst I am still a Mum, my life and role has changed. It is hard to let them go, as you know.i have often described myself as 'just a Mum' and felt less valuable as a person because this was my role - never from my husband or my kids, maybe just other people sometimes. I was so grateful to read your post because it reminded me what I have done for my family, my children, and the reasons why my husband and I chose to bring up our children as we did. That being present that you talk about is so very important, and I give thanks that both my hubby and I realised early on what was important and made it happen. We are not perfect, we made mistakes, but we did our best.

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  31. Ridiculously beautiful! I wish this wasn't such a long post and I would post it on my wall to remember....especially when times are so difficult! You make me realize that I wish I could freeze time with my little ones. As hard as it is with all the tantrums and "sacrifices" I make, your words hit me to the very core. They are truth. Wow! I can't stop reading your blog! Good thing the kids are in bed! haha xo

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