Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Why Being a Mom Matters (in a post-election world)

I was talking with a friend the other day who was feeling caught between busy mom life and a desire to do more.  To be more than just a mom.  But between the demands of little ones and a husband with long work hours, being "more than Mom" feels nearly impossible sometimes.

"I know being a mom is the most important job, but it doesn't always feel like it."

I honestly didn't know what to say because that same feeling resonated deep within me.  And so we came up with some small ways to incorporate the more into daily mom life, but we both knew it wasn't what we were looking for.  We were looking for an answer to this question: Why does being a mom matter?

Of course we both know the cliche answers, but a few nights later as I lay crying in bed, those answers just didn't help.  I was upset with Joel, but not for anything he did.  I felt jealous of him.  Really jealous.  I was angry that he had so much going on in his life.  A job he loves, a band, a marathon.  People telling him he's doing well at all of the above.  

"But you're a great mom.  You said it yourself just the other day."

Not even kidding.  I did.  After nine years of raising little ones I am well past the point of thinking I have to be a perfect mom to be a great mom.  (And I've realized it's okay to say it out loud.)

"I know I did, but what does that even matter?"

It's not a question he could answer of course (try as he might).  It's one I needed to answer for myself.

Because I have put in nine years of sweat and tears, nine years of moving and working from early morning to late night, nine years of diapers and meals and playing trains on the floor.  I have directed nearly every ounce of my energy into my family, and now that I have more than the minute I'm in the bathroom with the door locked to reflect on my life I'm wondering, why does is matter anyhow?

And let me tell you, I struggled to find an answer.  Really struggled.  To be honest, I couldn't come up with one satisfying answer, not one good reason why.  Until this morning.

I set my alarm for 4 am (10 pm, US time) and Joel and I slowly sat up in bed.  He brought over his laptop and we searched for a live stream of the election coverage.  I'm sure I don't need to describe the shocking events that unfolded from there.

At one point I decided to go back to sleep and thought, as I drifted off, I could very well wake up to a Trump presidency.  And I did.

As much as I tried to stop it, I couldn't turn off the stream of hateful discourse that ran rampant these past few months.  I couldn't stop thinking, what will I tell my kids?  That the same person who said these terrible things is now our president?

Of course I felt a little scared about what might happen, about our country's future, but much more so I felt heartbroken.  This morning I woke up and got my kids ready for school and went about my life as usual.  Nothing had changed.  But I couldn't stop thinking about minority people in America, people with disabilities, people from other countries, looking for a better life for themselves and their children.  How they might feel this morning like they're walking into a more hostile America, or at the very least a more apathetic one.

Later, in the car, Finn asked who the new president was.  I had told them earlier, but apparently it was too early to register.

"What?"  My feisty little guy exclaimed.  "But I don't like that guy AT ALL!"

I was a little taken aback by his reaction.  We had spoken very little about the election.  Not intentionally, just lack of obvious opportunities (since we read our news instead of watching it).  They knew we weren't voting for Trump, but I had no idea he felt so passionately about the matter.

"I know, buddy.  I don't like him much either, but that's how elections work.  Remember how you used to vote for things in Kindergarten?  And even if you liked your vote very much, the most votes always won."

"Well I don't like it."

"You don't have to.  But he's still president.  The best thing we can do is pray that he will be a kind and fair leader.  And what's really important is that we keep being kind and loving ourselves."

As soon as I said it something clicked in me.  It's exactly the answer I had been looking for.  I was so busy thinking big, wanting to do something bigger, something more obviously important, when I really needed to think smaller.

Sure, there are people who need to do big things in big arenas, but I felt more convinced this morning than ever that I am doing the most important thing I could possibly be doing.  I'm raising three little, impressionable people to be kind and loving.  I'm raising them to not just accept people who are different, but to embrace them.  I'm raising them to use their words to build others up, not to tear them down.

I get to be the one to teach them that people with disabilities are people too, with so much to offer the world, not a joke to be made.  I get to be the one to teach them that women are to be treated with respect, not degraded with "locker room talk;" that immigrants and refugees are to be helped, not hindered; that we respond to our enemies with love, not hatefulness and a thirst for revenge.

Aside from voting, there was little I could do to control this election, and even less I can do to control the future.  But what I can do... I can love my little guys.  I can love them with extra long hugs and warm meals and books at bedtime.  I can love them with quiet prayers and bible stories.  I can love them in hundreds of little ways, and I can hope beyond hope that they take that love into the world.  That they use it to love others, in hundreds of little ways.

And right now, on the day after election day, that is the very biggest, most important thing I can think to do.

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