Motherhood is not the hardest job

Okay, so maybe my inner cynic is showing, but not too long ago I read yet another post affirming motherhood as the hardest job and the highest calling and I think I rolled my eyes. For sure I sighed. I may or may not have sent a snarky text to my friend (who, incidentally, may or may not have replied with a hearty assent urging the authors of such pieces to go ahead and get over themselves).

My friend and I don’t mean to be cynical. I do understand the authors’ intent with such articles. I do. Really, I do. No doubt I’ve written similar sentiments here on the blog. Motherhood is not easy, not by a long shot. It can be overwhelming and confusing and all-encompassing and, well, just plain hard, yes and amen. Not always but sometimes.

And maybe my snark is because I’m nearing the end of my daily responsibility as a mom. My nest is emptying; hence my curmudgeon-ry grows. Could be. Certainly my cynicism may well be closely related to my angst about transitioning out of this stage of life.

Regardless of the motivating factors, it’s not the assertion of the difficulty of the task of motherhood that gives me pause but rather the superlatives. The hardest job ever? The highest and best calling? If that were true, what about my life now as I near “retirement”? Am I to conclude that from here on out whatever my hand finds to do is somehow less important, of a less critical nature? And what about the implications for those who are single or who do not have children? Is our message really that motherhood is highest and best?

Besides, parenthood as we know it, what with medicine and healthcare and preschool and answers to any and all questions available with a few clicks of the google, is it really the hardest job? There are eternal implications to be sure. But I can’t help but think of friends who are laboring in parts of the world openly antagonistic to the gospel, where they do not know any other believers apart from they themselves; surely their job, their calling, their mission is hard, if not impossible.

Why then the repeated assertion of motherhood as highest and noblest? Does saying such really foster encouragement and joy in the task? For me it often had the opposite effect. I would grow depressed and discouraged to know that * this * ought to be the height of what I do and who I am; yet I was so often bored or overwhelmed or a complete failure. Some days, to be frank, seemed devoid of meaning and purpose in what was supposed to be the most important job of my life. Forget highest and hardest, while I knew days full of all that is good and grand about mothering, a lot of days just weren’t. If this was to be the end all, be all of my existence here on earth, shouldn’t I be better at it? Or find more joy in it?

Yes, indeed, dear mother, your task is difficult. It is a high and holy calling to raise children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. There are fabulous days and glorious days of sheer joy. There are also dark days and boring days and long days. Rest in the provision of your God no matter which kind of day you find yourself in. Do the best you can in the wisdom and provision of God, knowing your motherhood doesn’t define you. There are hard things and high callings beyond this stage and what matters is not necessarily the task at hand but the glory of God the Father who calls and empowers and sustains.

An unfinished post

I spent some time the other day poking around behind the scenes here at the blog, discovering in the process that I have a rather large number of un-posted posts languishing in the draft queue. Some were obviously victims of a some sort of compelling distraction, only a few words long and then in incomplete sentences. Some of the drafts were just that: unedited, unfinished posts needing only a fitting conclusion or a little fleshing out here and there. Some I remember writing; most I do not. Some I can figure out what my point was; some I have no idea what it was I wanted to say.

For the curious, like myself, here’s one of those draft posts, this one hearkening back to over three years ago, when we were all writing six word summations of our lives and tagging others to do the same. It is just as I wrote it then, with a few minor edits here and there (what can I say, I just can’t help myself; the compulsive self-editor will never die). It ends, as you will see, rather abruptly. What was I going to say next? Who can know?

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Another fitting six word memoir depicting my life as it is and not necessarily as it should be:

She rarely finishes what she starts.

I’ve considered giving you a laundry list of the things begun yet unfinished still. There is, however, a limit to my self revelation and, honestly, I fear risking your judgment. Suffice it to say, the list is long and varied.

In Sunday school yesterday we studied Ephesians 5:15-17, “Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is.” Our teacher quoted John MacArthur as saying the most spiritually foolish thing a believer can do outside of willful disobedience to God’s Word is to squander time and opportunity by frittering away his life in trivia and half hearted service to the Lord.

I’ve heard it said that we are to live like we’re dying. We do not know how long God has allotted for our life here on earth and the argument goes that we ought live this day as if it were our last. Should I do so, I would no doubt have a sense of urgency and would certainly seize every opportunity to proclaim the glories of God in the gospel of Jesus Christ. I would not, however, worry about the dirty dishes in the sink. Were this to really be my last day on earth I would leave them there in the sink, not to mention the dirty laundry in the hamper and the dog hair on the floor; indeed I would leave it all behind with scarcely a thought as I prepared to leave this world for the next, yes I would.

But, isn’t washing the dirty dishes in the sink also part of my calling? Certainly there is something of a flaw in the live-today-like-you’re-dying approach.

Yeah, I’m thinking and too much. As I’ve already shared with you, I feel a sense of conviction–or is it guilt?–over squandering my time. As I told a friend in an email this morning, I feel as if I am chasing after my life, haphazardly and hurriedly, always behind and never accomplishing.

She rarely finishes anything she starts.

Or for another six word summation:

She lets life happen, accomplishing nothing.

Take Monday for instance. I spent nearly all day, besides fretting over my contrary child’s karate attendance, on Bible study. A good thing. But I had to spend all day in preparation because I hadn’t done much preparation in the week prior. A bad thing. So because I spent the day with my nose in the Word and various commentaries, I did not do the dishes or clean house or fill in the blank with some necessary domestic duty. Another bad thing. So now my already crazy week (hello? it’s May) is even crazier as I try to catch up. Another bad thing. So I put off Bible study this week as well…

Squandering my time on trivia and half hearted service, this I fear.

I feel as if I accomplish no more than getting my kids to school fed, bathed and on time. Is that enough? Have I redeemed the time?

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