Wednesday, October 26, 2011

The Highest-Paying Job

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:

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:

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.


Rebecca said...

'I hope and pray I can do this job well' - I think your prayer has been answered. While I wish none of were given this job, you have shown me in so many ways how to be a 'good infertile,' how to accept this job with grace and humility. I wish no one else ever had to feel the things that I've felt or offer up suffering for others, but I am truly and forever grateful that there is someone else, are many someone elses, for that is what makes accepting the job just a tiny bit easier.

Your words have so often given me the courage to confront my own feelings, to share my own experiences, to offer my own sufferrings up for others. While I pray you move on to your next job of being a 'good mother', I thank-you from the bottom of my heart for being a 'good infertile.'

Nadine said...

Completely true, being infertile really is the hard work. I'm sure you would walk on fire if it meant that you could be a mother, and keep going, your passion and commitment will make it happen.

Hebrews 11:1 said...

Someday, you are going to be the BEST mom ever! You are 100% spot on with everything in this post...somehow you manage to articulate things I think and feel but can't articulate myself. You are an inspiration to me, and knowing you has made me a better person.

Women for All Seasons said...

Reading your resume the way you think God reads it made me tear up. Thank you for sharing these beautiful thoughts. Today, I found myself sliding into that sad, blue feeling about being childless for the first time in a few weeks, but your writing and your perspective is just so inspiring that I'm going to hang onto my joyful feelings for a while longer!

All in His Perfect Timing said...

"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."
Thank you for reminding me that God knows best and to persevere in the little, daily things in "this job".

Faith makes things possible said...

What a truly beautiful and inspiring post! I actually have tears from reading this because this is something I've thought about before but you've done such a beautiful job of articulating it! Thank you!!! Im going to refer to this post when in feeling down or defeated...a wonderful reminder to keep trying to be a good me so that when the day comes when I can finally live out my vocation, I'll know I haven't wasted all those years...

I love that, "a GOOD mother"...

You are such a beautiful and wise woman!!

Ps-auto correct try and change my "wise" to "wide"...geez...glad I caught it!! ;)

Ania said...

I was just saying this to hubby the other day. I know God didn't give me infertility, but I hope I live with it in a way that is pleasing to him. You're right, it is a way for us to grow in love and will better our mothering for sure.

JellyBelly said...

Amen! Amen! Amen!

I spent so many years (is it sad that I have been IF so long that I can honestly say years?) wasting my time and twiddling my thumbs. I was seeing my time of waiting as a punishment, not an opportunity.

There are so many days, particularly as my surgery looms closer, that IF seems WAY too much to handle. I am not being humble, nor am I seeing the many gifts that IF has brought me.

You are going to be an AMAZING mother, TCIE. One day we will both be able to see why the Lord made us wait for so darned long and hopefully we will be enjoying some tasty falafels while discussing our post-IF lives. :)

Anonymous said...

Beautiful post. This week I'm helping to host a conference on vocation and we talked today about how our callings evolve over time through our lives. At each stage of the lifespan, we are called by God to be who and how we can be at that stage (as children, youth, young adults, etc.) as well as being called ahead to something in the future. So children have a vocation now - they are not just waiting for a future vocation. Your post made me think it is the same for those who are waiting to become parents - they have a calling here and now as well as being called to something in the future. So I pray for you in this calling today and in what lies ahead as well! btw I also wanted to let you know that I gave your blog a little plug here:
Thank you for sharing your story - it has really spoken to me over the years.

St. Rita's Roses said...

AS usual, another amazing post from tcie! I am storming the heavens for ya A- I do not know why the wait is so long, it will make sense some day-- I am asking Him to make you a mom NOW! God Bless ya!

Danya @ He Adopted Me First said...

I completely agree that we need to be the most generous we can be wherever we are. I really believe you are doing exactly that! I love your heart TCIE - it's just beautiful!

Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...

Hello TCIE,
I understand your feelings because I too used to work with kids and I wanted to be a good mother from my childhood and now I carry the heavy cross of infertility.
Nevertheless I try not to idealize motherhood too much; baby is not equal to happiness. There are women with children and post partum depression and women that after a while feel terrible lonely, all the day at home by themselves, caring only for a child. I hope we both will fulfill our dream to become mothers but please, don't stop living waiting for a child.
As somebody said "life is something happening when you are busy making other plans" A big hug.

Amy @ This Cross I Embrace said...

Very true, Silvana, thank you for your comment.
I think that's what I meant by "doing this job well" (the job of infertility). If a nurse, for example, lived day to day only concentrating on becoming a Doctor... well, she would miss all the opportunities of doing a wonderful nursing job. :)

Beth said...

Yeah. Pretty sure you are doing it well ;)

Anonymous said...

i've always thought that too...that i'm sure motherhood is hard and difficult and worrisome yada yada, but at the end of the day our society and faith does revere mothers. and plus there is a little face looking at you and you can see the tangible work and effort you've expended even if they don't say "thank you". with infertility, no tangible 'product' (please don't take that literally). and you're right, its a totally different job in its own right, as much as i wish it just completely prepared us for motherhood it IS totally different, but still worthy of our effort since it is God given. what a great post!

Anonymous said...

This is an excellent post - because it's so true! In January, my DH & I will be married 7 years - so I'm all too familiar with the heartache, and the medical bills. This IS more than a full-time job, it takes our time & it takes our money!

Sometimes, when I begin to lose hope, the thought of returning to working outside the home overcomes me, because as it is now, I'm a homemaker/housewife - working on becoming a Stay-at-home Mom, but only in the Catholic Infertile community is that even remotely seen as worthy... Other people wonder why I'm not pulling a second paycheck, since at my age (41), they so much as said I should probably give up the dream.

We proved them wrong last year - after turning 40, we conceived (absolutely naturally - no meds, nothing!), but I miscarried at 16 weeks... If it could happen once, God may allow it to happen again. Meanwhile, I too, will embrace this cross. As Padre Pio always said: "Pray, Hope, and Don't Worry!" (easier said than done)

May God bless your generous soul!