Many have said about motherhood that it is the hardest and lowest-paying job there is. I beg to differ.
Financially-speaking, there is no compensation for the hours and hours of "on-call" duty a mother must perform for the well-being of her child. Blood, sweat, and tears hardly begins to describe motherhood, with all of its demands and absolutely no time for breaks. Overwhelming becomes the new normal, as suddenly a mother's life is not her own, anymore.
And yet... it is the job title I most aspire to hold. In all of the trials of motherhood, there lies an opportunity for grace. (I especially love HE Adopted Me First's recent thoughts on this, which gave me the idea for this post.) If a mother recognizes all of the immense GOOD she can do through her daily generosities (to borrow the term from HAMF), she can get closer and closer to heaven, while leading her children there. Is there any higher payment than that?
I believe on some level, I always held this truth about motherhood. On a survey we were given in elementary school about "the future," a question asked, "If you could be anything in the world when you grow up, what would you be?" It listed, parenthetically, some choices: (teacher, astronaut, actor, fireman, etc.)
My mother, a few Christmases ago, gave me and my sisters each a box of our old school stuff, and we went through it together, laughing about our child-like view of the world. But when I read my response to that survey question, I began to cry. Not because my response was naive and child-like, but because it came directly from my heart... and while my mind and body had changed drastically since those childhood days, my heart has remained constant.
"If you could be anything in the world when you grow up, what would you be?":
A Good Mother
I've written about this once before. But today, I focus on a detail about my answer. Notice, I did not write "A Mother." The word "Good" completely transforms my response from a dream to an aspiration. I knew then that there would be work involved in motherhood. That it wouldn't be enough to just become pregnant, have offspring, and suddenly my dreams would come true. I knew there was more to it than that.
The trouble is, all of this time of childlessness has felt like an ongoing interview for that job title I most aspire to hold. I have so often felt like God was waiting for me to "prove myself" before He would give me the job, and trust me to give myself unconditionally, while working on sanctification. My resume would probably look something like this:
THIS CROSS I EMBRACE
Blogland, World Wide Web
DayCare Center for 6 weeks-2.5 yrs (1 year)
Nanny for 2 month- 14 month (1 year)
Camp Counselor for K-8 (4 years)
Student Mentor (2 years)
Teacher's Aide (1 year)
Kindergarten Teacher (1 year)
Time Spent Thinking About, Studying, and Dreaming of Motherhood (25 years)
Now I fully understand just how "high-paying" the job of motherhood, with all of its opportunities for grace can be, and my aspirations have never been stronger.
I realize now that Motherhood is not the hardest and lowest-paying job there is. It is actually the 2nd hardest and 2nd highest-paying...
2nd only to Infertility/Childlessness.
I am seeing now that this time of waiting to become a mother is not an interview. It is a job in and of itself! And I can either do this job well, or I can do it really, really poorly - just like motherhood. But God is not waiting for me to succeed at this job before promoting me to the one I truly want. He is waiting for me to succeed for my own eternal good! And much like motherhood, the way I do this job on a daily basis not only affects me, but affects others, as well.
But my compensation for doing this job well can be abundant, if I can remember that this job was entrusted to me from above. Each and every trial I encounter in this job can be transformed into a "generosity" towards my spouse and towards others, if I offer the suffering for them, and do it willingly and joyfully. If I can do that... this job can become the highest paying job ever.
And while I don't think I would have ever answered that question posed to me in a survey years ago with the response: "A Good Infertile,"
I think that God has in fact seen my resume, exactly the way I wrote it above. And I think he read it this way:
CHILD OF GOD
In the World Created by God
Loves children with all her heart
Defends life in all of her work
Wants to be a Mother, because she believes it is My Will,
but above all, she hopes to do My Will, and do it well
God read right through the words on my resume, and gave me a job I never applied for, but He knew it was a job I could benefit from right now.
I hope and pray I can do this job well... as I wait for the next one.