Tonight after Young Life my kitchen was full of awesome Christian college aged women. As I scanned the room around them I was somewhat embarrassed by the lunch boxes stacked on the counter still waiting to be emptied and refilled, the wet towels and swimsuits in a bag in the corner from today's swim lessons, the stack of permission slips for an upcoming school program next to the homework stack by the backdoor and the half eaten box of mini wheats overturned from snack time. I couldn't help but wonder what message my life (or my kitchen) sent to them about motherhood. I apologized for the disarray and explained that I would be tackling most of those things later in the evening.
One of the girls, actually the lone high school senior said, "I don't think I will ever be able to fully appreciate all that my Mom has done for me."
I agreed that she would not, until perhaps she was a mother herself. Even then, circumstances will be different. I wanted to explain the things no one sees...how much work it takes for the house to look the same at the end of the day that it did in the beginning (much less better), the incredible amount of brain disk space that is occupied by mundane things like grocery lists, family schedules and basic life maintenance. This doesn't even include the part of the brain that houses hopes, dreams, long term parenting strategies and all those tips we read and hope to one day implement.
There is no way to explain until you have experienced it the incredible emotion involved when your heart is walking around in other little bodies. How can one accurately convey the love, the joy, the exhaustion, the guilt? How can you describe the pressure of knowing what an awesome responsibility it is to shepherd a little heart through this world--all while acknowledging your own sin, failure and desperate need for a Savior?
Sleep deprivation, hand wringing, fervent prayers, boo boo kissing, vomit and poop cleaning, laundry washing, meal preparing, Mom taxi driving, classroom volunteering...these things fill our days while we contemplate character development, strength maximization, talent and gift discovery, discipline, mental and physical health, spiritual growth.
Make no mistake, I am not complaining. I begged God for these babies. I almost died for them. I am exceedingly grateful for this job...but it is not my whole life.
I also have a precious husband to love, a partner to serve alongside. I have a life of ministry outside my home as well as in it. God's ultimate plan and purpose for my life is to know Him and glorify Him. It just so happens that one of the primary ways this is happening during this particular season of my life is in child rearing. So, the evidence is spread all over my kitchen, and my dirty Yukon, and my wrinkled clothes and not quite put together self.
The reward is not in a perfectly organized and clean kitchen, it is in the little moments...like a few nights ago when we were leaving our favorite Mexican restaurant and P announced, "I like you, Mom."
"I like you, too," I responded. "What made you think about that?"
"I dunno," he said, "I am just happy in my heart and in this life right now."
Clearly, his temporary happiness is not an overarching measure of my success. There are plenty of other times he is not happy with Mom's way. But in that unscripted, unexpected, random real life moment I felt a kind of satisfaction I never could have dreamed of 6 years ago.
It puts the wiping of bottoms and snotty noses, vomit catching, middle of the night bad dreams, tantrums, piles of laundry, discipline challenges, guilt and fear in perspective.
I love being a Mom.