My son was sick.
Usually, I’m a good nurse, but this one morning, I was feeling ambivalent toward being a mommy.
It’s an honor to parent my son. And yet, I can’t park into the place that being a mother (or a parent) is the single most important thing I will ever do.
It wasn’t the most important thing for most the peeps in the Bible (take Moses for instance). It wasn’t Ruth or Deborah or even Mary’s only legacy.
Jesus inspired things like Mary’s Magnificat but the lyrics are all Mary’s.
We each bring more to the world than our parenting.
Let me add that if you are a parent perhaps the most important thing you can do right now is parent your child.
But not all of you, not even, dare I say it, most of you, should think that parenting will be your primary contribution to this good earth. We ought to parent well and attentively. And believe me, I take the responsibility full upon my shoulders as a significant part of my life (Second Year Mom). I still have not left my son for more than 32 hours at a stretch. It’s not necessarily a mark of my sacrifice, I really like being with him.
But loving and enjoying my son is not the same as making him the most important output of my life. I can’t believe that and I won’t put that kind of pressure upon him.
His shoulders are too small.
I don’t know what’s more important (and I’m not about to try to order these): my husband, my son, Soulation, my extended family, my friends, my God, my painting, my cooking, my social life, my writing, my reading, this blog, etc.
Disciplines of Mothering
Each day I get a chance to choose what I will make most important to me today. When I’m feeling stuck (and let’s face it, all mothers feel this) I set out to practice disciplines to notice and value him in this two-year-old season.
I stop looking at the mess he’s created or the emails that are mounting and I look at my son’s eyes. I notice his chest heave as he breathes deeply and steadily, as it always does when he’s focused. I stop looking around and I look at him.
His pace slows mine enough to be glad I’m his mother.
I joke with my cousin (the one who has mentored me through several baby carriers at Frogmama.com) that every that every time we get to talk or email she gets to see a feminist.
But I’m not opposed to shaving or bras, I tell her.
For me, feminist isn’t a campaign flag I’m always waving at my church events. I have and will continue to speak among those who do not believe women should lead men. But I still hold my flag steadily; I am a feminist.
I am a feminist not because I believe in reproductive rights more than the rights of the unborn (I don’t). I am a feminist not because I want women to give up the lessons their bodies teach as they bear children.
I am a feminist because I can’t be a follower of Jesus and be anything else. Jesus consistently put women next to men as their companions, not their servants or assistants.
As a feminist, one of the most counter cultural ways I can live is to show that feminism frees me to be a better mommy. Feminism is where I found freedom to stop being the uber-mommy, which makes me more myself.
Where Christian Feminists are Different
I’ve written about how the adjective before the noun makes a royal differencein how you understand feminism. As a follower of Jesus, my feminism streams from what I see God teaching me.
Just today I saw, once again, that just because I’m a mother, doesn’t mean I’m nurturing (or cultivating) my son as well as I could be. My husband can nurture as well as, even better, than me.
Being a Christian feminist means I’m not so surprised or resistant when I see my husband play roles stereotypically reserved for women, thing like patience and love, for instance.
The rule of the kingdom of God says that if you follow Jesus you will find fruits of His Spirit growing, things like patience, kindness, love, peace and long-suffering.
Let me illustrate.
After lunch I suggested we try again and went to go snap on my skiis so my son would have another skier to watch (See, it CAN be fun!). My husband patiently explained the skis and how they worked while I was down at the garage. By the time I got back I barely got to snap this picture of them together, breathing heavily over the hard work of coordinating top in, heel snap down.
When my son whimpered that he was scared, my husband didn’t push him. He scooped him up and held him, skiis and all.
When my son was ready to start moving my husband walked him slowly, making a game of it. I wanted my son to ski, my husband kept saying that was 40 steps down the road.
“Right now we’re on step four,” he said. His back was aching but he still had energy for a sweep into the eight inches of powder. In that moment, I caught this and thought, Even though I did the run into town and boot fitting, it was my husband who was able to help my son have fun on his skis.
I got to capture it, but my husband got to parent.
And yet, all is well with my soul.