Friday, August 6, 2010

Motherhood as an expression of True Self

I used to think that successful motherhood was about what I did for the kids.  The orchestration of our day and all those little things that create the mothering experience: feeding, diapering, wiping unidentified substances off the car floor. 

And then I started wondering if successful motherhood wasn't about what I did, but about who I was. 

What if we really only mother from our core self?   The person we are when no one is around...who we are when we're at home in our pajamas and idealistic notions go out the window?

What if all that surface stuff and philosophies and step-by-steps really mean nothing, and it's just our True Self in the driver's seat of parenting, shaping our children?  And in the end, they'll become who we REALLY are...not the person we wish we were?

I am a klutzy housekeeper who hates folding laundry and wishes daily I was better at the administrative tasks of the home.  I want to bake cookies, not wash dishes.  I was sure I could fake that side of me long enough to teach my children how to be the Better Version of me.  THEY would be wonderful at keeping house.

But you know...probably not.  Maybe instead I should teach them who I am.  How to streamline tasks at home...write shorter to-do lists.  Outsource or give things away so you don't have to dust them. ;)  And show them, through my life, how to make who I *really* am work for me.  Accept that side of me and embrace it.

Seeing Motherhood as an expression of True Self sent me down a completely different path, where the martyrdom of motherhood was gone.  I wasn't just going to bear through the complex exhaustion that young children could bring, I was going to make sure we were having fun doing it.  Maybe not on a moment-to-moment basis, but as a general path. 

Let's shake up life a bit.

And in making life more adventurous and intriguing and novel for me, I started seeing how much trickle-down effect there is.  WHO I am is what mothers my children.

I can say all sorts of pithy mantras throughout the day: "What's more important, having the green cup or the relationship with your brother?"  But...

What mothers them is what I show them.  What's more important to me:  Living in the house that made us feel tied down and overwhelmed with stuff, or shedding our Stuff to turn the spotlight on family?  Cutting back on work to spend more time at the beach...going on freakishly long road trips...all of it.

It seemed too crazy to make sense and then this summer happened.  What everyone (perhaps me included) thought was madness - taking 3 young children for 7 weeks on the road - became a time when our family felt SO right.

It wasn't because we were spending our days in museums and zoos.  I've done that in the Not Settled Sarahbeth times, and it can totally suck.  Crabby, overtired kids and hungry mama and I just want to leave the freakin' zoo and get a Starbucks. 

But when there was a skip in my step, there was in my children's too.  And Steve was loving our life too.  We spent hours in the front seat, talking about what this might mean for our family.We set a new equation for what this adventure of life was supposed to be like, and we're going to follow this river where it goes.

I am now in Orlando with 13 children.  Eating sushi, looking out at palm trees, staying up until 2AM talking.  Seeing Donald Miller speak (a WHOLE 'nother post...or 2 or 10).  And instead of running away from motherhood, I see myself becoming even more the mother I'm supposed to be.

I will come home and love my children from a full tank. I will be ready for the next adventure.  And in filling my soul...nourishing my spirit...I'm more equipped to teach them how to do that in their own lives. 

This weekend, they didn't need me home being the one to make their dinner.  They needed me adding on another layer to who I am...who I'm supposed to be...assessing what I value and how to bring it home to the persons whom I love more than I ever imagined I could love.

Who I am shapes them.  Because they are watching me.  What happens in my life has to work for me, because that's what they'll learn.  How to lead the life that fulfills them.

I'm intoxicated about what this might mean...where life could head if we ask, like Donald Miller said: "What if...?" 

Which "What if?" will I bring home this weekend?


Michelle said...

Love this post. I've been thinking (and writing) something similar myself lately, as well as reading it on some friends' blogs. Good theme to go around!

Sarahbeth said...

Yes, I important theme! One of the most important themes in my ongoing path. :) Great to hear from you.