Friday, August 7, 2015
At Home, Arlington, Massachusetts
I'm reading a book for my Jonathan Edwards paper on siblings in colonial America. I love it already. There's so much to chew on in it. An off-hand comment from the author really caused me to pause and think though. She was discussing childbirth rates among the early colonists and in discussing one particular woman as an example, she mentioned her "childbearing career." At first, I was disturbed by this comment; women gave so much in those days to motherhood and everything about their lives was consumed by children.
But as I considered the description further, I actually started to really like it, and not just that, but I started to see in it a healthy perspective on childbearing that I need to take on. Childbearing was considered a woman's career. It wasn't just an obligation, or a duty, but it was work on which she embarked and in which she could take pride. She could do it well, or she could do it poorly, just as with any other career. It wasn't so much about her fulfillment, but it could be a great deal about her success and pride.
I think many women today would find it vulgar to think of motherhood as a career, but I find it liberating. I love work. I love strategizing about how to succeed and do well in life. I love having my days full with work that has an objective. In many ways, part of the burden of being a mother in my mind has been the need to give this all up. I don't think of having kids as something that will fulfill me – I already feel fulfilled. I don't need children. But if I think about it as work, of motherhood as a career, then it takes on interesting features. It's a project that I can be creative in and with. It's work that has an objective other than my own fulfillment. I don't ever feel the need to have a baby to be happy. But I can get excited about having a baby to create something good.
Of course, family is family. It's relationships, not tasks. But I also think it could be healthy for us to remember that it is also work – that bearing and raising children is a career of sorts. And it's not so because it's some special task for women alone. Though part of our career is the physical bearing and feeding of the young, the career of childrearing belongs equally to fathers. When we remember that having children is one career out of many that we undertake, it reminds us that all things exist in unity under the authority of the Creator. Just as our work must always involve relationships, so our relationships often take on the nature of a job. God's cultural mandate did not divide these things – all that God has given us to do intersects and weaves together.
(Image by Kuzma Petrov-Vodkin, "Motherhood.")
2/11/2017 04:47:48 am
Yes yes yes!! I absolutely agree - it truly is our God-given work/career to which we ought to devote all the different creative gifts and talents the Lord has given us! It is so helpful to think of it this way. Honestly, it's so easy to just let parenting "happen," I think. But to really intentionally give it our all is such a different reality filled with self-sacrificing and joyful purpose. (I'd say I get this, maybe if I'm generous with myself, 15% of the time? But the days when I do are SO much more full of joy than the days when I don't). I also think it is easier to think this way the older they get. Infancy, at least the first time around for me, felt a lot more like surviving boot camp ;-) - the intentionality became more possible later on. (And I think in some ways that's probably ok....). I could keep rambling, but thanks for getting my mind thinking this way!
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About the Project
This is a very personal project. It tracks my growth and development as I journeyed toward motherhood over the recent years. It doesn't document every experience I had, and probably neglects my more joyful and peaceful moments in the frenzy of trying to communicate my fears, anxieties, and doubts. If you are a friend or loved one, please do not let anything you read here overshadow what you know of me personally. If you are a stranger, please remember that a living and flawed person stands behind these words. To all my guests here, please understand these are not political statements and try to extend me grace, even as I share my failures and foibles - I have repented of much of what I share. I don't share this journal as an exemplar, but rather out of the desire to share my hope that entrance to motherhood does not need to be a fearful thing - despite the very real fears I have fought against. Motherhood is simply a part of life and one through which I am discovering more of myself and my God.