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Mamma-trimmen

Av: Barnhill, Carla
Publisert: 27.02.2009
I alt slitet og i alle de tunge oppgavene som mor er det lett å miste perspektivet. Oppdag gleden ved daglig omsorg og personlig modning og hva dette gjør med dine perspektiver!

I used to be able to do the splits — seriously — all the way to the floor, with a smile on my face.

 
I was on the dance line in high school. While I was never a long, lean, leggy dancer, I was one bendy, high-kicking chubby girl. And now? Well, now I wake up in the morning barely able to touch my knees, much less my toes. Clearly, my dancing muscles have left the building.
 
Flexibility is one of those use-it-or-lose-it propositions. Once you stop stretching every day, you quickly lose the ability to stretch much at all. It’s certainly true of our muscles, but it’s also true of our attitudes. When I was young and single and childless, I was pretty much up for anything. If friends called on a Friday to see if I could head to the beach in an hour, I was in. If my roommate wanted to go out for ice cream at 11:30 P.M., no problem. If my job was eliminated and I needed to find something else, no big deal. Back then, I was bendy enough to move whichever way life seemed to take me. I didn’t stress about it. I didn’t worry about it. And I didn’t really think about it.
 
Not anymore. Now I live in a near-constant state of overwhelmed-ness (a word I just coined because I’m too overwhelmed to figure out a real word that means the same thing). My response has been to become rigid, stiff, unyielding in my efforts to gain some kind of control over a life that sometimes seems like it’s going to swallow me.
 
This seems to be one of motherhood’s unspoken side effects. We want so much to create a wonderful, beautiful, painless life for our children that we close in on ourselves, pulling away from anything that seems like it might threaten the careful plans we have for our family. Instead of flexing our dreaming muscles, we stop using them because we believe they get in the way of the work we need to do. Instead of reaching toward a more complete version of ourselves, we sit back and watch our children reach and stretch and grow. In short, we stop moving forward and let ourselves atrophy in the name of good parenting.
 
So often, I talk to moms who poured so much of themselves into their children that they’ve forgotten what it’s like to have plans and dreams and hopes of their own. Believe me, I have a preschooler at home, and I barely have the brain space to remember to make my dentist appointment, much less the time and energy to think big thoughts about what I want out of life. But I also have a 7-year-old and an 11-yearold who are developing busy lives of their own. I know the day is coming — sooner than I care to think — when parenthood will take on a different kind of intensity. I won’t be so exhausted all the time, and I’ll have the time and the mental space for new ideas. When that day comes, I don’t want my dreaming muscles to have withered away.
 
The beauty of motherhood is that it doesn’t have to shrivel my dreams or my growth as God’s child. Instead, motherhood actually can be a kind of spiritual Pilates that works my core and whittles away the fat of selfishness that marked the dreams of my childless days.
 
Not long ago, I talked about this whole dream business with a friend who’s in her late 20s. I told her I loved being her age, and I loved having all those great dreams for my life. But I went on to tell her recently I’d been struggling to figure out what my dreams are now. “I used to want to travel the world and have all these great adventures,” I told her. “Now I realize those things probably aren’t going to happen. I wish I was able to hold on to those dreams.” She replied, “I think there’d be something wrong with you if you had all the same dreams now as you did when you were my age.”
 
She was absolutely right. I’m not the same person I was before I became a mother. My life is much deeper, much richer than it was then. That’s because God has been working on me through my parenting. I have become far more patient, far more compassionate, far more aware of how vulnerable we all are and therefore how essential it is that we care for one another. My kids aren’t the only ones growing because of our relationship — I’m growing, too. As I’ve cared for my children, God’s cared for me — teaching me, leading me, nurturing me, sustaining me. But the end goal of all that work and growth isn’t just that I become more of whom God created me to be, or a better mom. It’s to become someone who is better equipped to do God’s work in the world.
 
That patience means I can listen to my 90-year-old neighbor tell me stories — often the same ones — about his days in the Army without thinking about the laundry I should be doing. That compassion means I’m learning to see beyond the surface of a sarcastic, cynical friend to the child hurt by people he trusted. And that awareness motivates me to figure out what I can do to help children orphaned by AIDS or women trapped in the sex trade.
 
I can’t do the splits anymore — which is fine, because, really, who wants to see that? But motherhood has strengthened and stretched me in ways I never expected. While I’ve definitely “felt the burn” of all that effort, I’m also starting to see that my core is stronger than ever.

 

 

© Copyright 2009 Christianity Today International - this article was first published in MomSense magazine.

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