03 July 2012

Hey, I'm an American

A recurring theme in this blog, or maybe just in my head: the many and various ways that motherhood, particularly the seemingly perpetual motherhood of young children, is so very, wrenchingly, good for the soul. Our American*-steeped psyches, being as they’re also sin-sick, get to thinking that those individual rights we treasure so dearly apply universally and in family life. We do so love our rights.

And I am as slow and as sin-steeped as they come. For me, at least, it took the continual demands of motherhood to understand that looking not only to my own interests, but also to the interestsof others, might mean doing so on a schedule other than my own—not just sometimes, but every day.  Or that counting others as more significant than myself might require actual (gasp!) sacrifice! And that those others might be diaper-clad, with an astonishing amount of tyranny packed into a ridiculous stature, relentless, and thankless.

As Rebekah pointed out awhile back, there’s nothing like motherhood to make a body realize that even introversion, for instance, is a privilege, not a right.

I was just thinking of a few other privileges that I formerly assumed to be in the category of unalienable rights, e.g.:

The right to determine how a day should start. I love a peaceful morning; a new beginning; an orderly commencement of the day’s tasks. Realizing that I had to awaken with, and likely immediately feed, whichever little ‘un(s) woke at whatsoever time, was an adjustment. I got kind of used to that. I harbored no illusions about, for instance, my chances of meditating over a devotional book with an uninterrupted cup of tea to the sweet chorus of morning birds. And yet I used to think that I was at least entitled to some semblance of order in the waking and breakfast process—especially if I worked hard enough to earn a little law and order in the way things went down. As it turns out, I have a kid who wakes up like he’s been shot from a cannon into britches full of fire ants. And his morning just won’t feel complete till he’s dragged his siblings through the anthill too. So. Farewell to my “right” to order the day’s beginning and the breakfast table as I please. (Heck, I can’t even get them all to EAT the same thing for breakfast…) 

 What, your breakfast table doesn't look like this either? (Kids obviously sold separately too...)

Also: the right to three uninterrupted minutes to deal with necessary matters of personal health and hygiene. No need to elaborate here, eh?

Suffice to say that the battle I must wage against my desire to have my rights is a daily one, and the list could go on and on. And on. But I will end it here with a small pang in my heart and a tiny wistful sigh, as I remember the days in which it seemed to me that the opportunity to enjoy a piece of chocolate at whatsoever moment it pleased me was indeed as unalienable a right as if it had been John Hancocked all those 236 years ago.

*America is great. I love this country. Happy Fourth, everyone! I’m just noting that, like any other culture, America’s has its own particularly soul-endangering notions and tendencies.


Cathy said...

Thank you Reb.Mary. You said it perfectly. This recurring theme is what I really appreciate about this blog. The vocation of motherhood, with all its crosses and joys, actually works in us the very things we need. Faith in Christ, godly virtues, deliverance from being all about ourselves. Wrenchingly good for the soul. Thanks.

Rebekah said...

>> I can’t even get them all to EAT the same thing for breakfast…

ROAR. This drives me CRAZY.

Kaylee Hicks said...

Very true - "America's particularly soul-endangering notions and tendencies" which seem to very quickly creep into our hearts & minds to wreak havoc on those we love most. Thank God for daily baptism!

Emily Cook said...

The right to having only ONE child crying, screaming, or desperately NEEDY at a time.

The right to have only ONE spill per meal, or at least one at a time.

Anonymous said...

Oh, shoot. I thought that "mother's quiet time in the morning" was a given.

Jane S.

Reb. Mary said...


And the right NOT TO BE TOUCHED by a zillion loving little hands (sigh, what a wretch am I), especially when it feels as though one's skin is about to split open :P

What IS it about breakfast, anyway?

The Mama said...

I have significantly improved my breakfast mood by teaching my eldest (8) to make pancakes and eggs. She's thrilled to do it, I am thrilled to sip coffee and wait for my brain to realize I am awake, and everyone else is fed.

Elizabeth said...

The right to have children poop through their clothes one at a time instead of all at once - including the potty trained one....

Seriously, though, THANK YOU! I laughed and it also struck me right where I needed it!

Emommy said...

Elizabeth: "poop throught their clothes one at a time" - laugh my face off! SO with you there!
Reb. Mary: Thank you for reminding me that what I want and what Christ wants for me are usually diametrically opposed, and that's a good thing