|Matty in his fleece carrier, six months old|
Then I started thinking of all the times I heard "oh, I could never do that..." and "aren't you worried that..." and "blah, blah, and can't wait until they go to school," and "blah, blah, blah and then I'm cuttin' em off!" These comments were usually directed at my choices to extend breastfeeding, wear them in a sling, let them sleep in our bed, or keep them home and teach them.
I talked to a mom recently who told me all the glories of her career. She talked about how great one of her bosses was because when he wanted her to work overtime he let her bring her baby to the office with her. As her story continued, with every adventure and opportunity that she praised, she also admitted that she feels so guilty when she is around moms like me and my friend who was hosting the event, who is also a stay at home mom. She says she works herself to exhaustion when she gets home from her job running her kids around to all their activities and "being there for them" in that way, but really, she misses out on so much, and it makes her sad. What could I say, really? I wasn't going to start a mommy war--this wasn't what it was about. But I honestly felt sad for the woman because no matter what turn the conversation took, it always came back around to her justifying (to herself--I was saying nothing) why she has made the choices she has made. I felt sad that she could have such regrets already and that she seemed to have no plans or intentions to make a change to correct those regrets. She really didn't see--or perhaps didn't want to see--an alternative.
I think when I had children I reduced my thinking to the least common factors--what elements are absolutely necessary to raise my children to be healthy, thriving adults? Children need touch, so I carried them in a sling. They need nourishment, so I breastfed them and am a little nutty about nutrition. They need rest and exercise and play, so we limit evening activities, have them in bed at a decent hour and arrange active play dates for them with a variety of friends. They need parents who care about them and listen to them, so we are present for all of these things so our children know that they can count on us to be there, no matter what, as long as we are humanly able. And all the while I teach them to trust God over everything else. Doing all this, not to mention caring for my husband and the household in general takes all of my time and energy.
We women seem to stress so much over our "calling"--all the "shoulds" that we see around us. We look to Jesus as our example of ministry, and indeed that is what he is, but he was a man. He was the son of God. He was out in public preaching, teaching and healing. Consider that we are women, and the women he praised were Mary, who sat at his feet learning, and the repentant woman who wept at his feet. Consider that the maternal nature of God is best expressed in Jesus' words when he said, "O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it. How often would I have gathered your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you would not!" (Matthew 23:37) He models for us the tenderness and protective nature of a parent, and a willingness to save them from themselves and their sin. When I read this, I consider that my children are my calling, first and foremost. I am to model for them the peaceful nature of Mary who desires to sit at the Master's feet, and in so doing gather them under my "wings" and protect them from the world. In this place I can minister to those who witness this, and as we open our home, it becomes a testimony to them of peace and security in Christ. I have to believe that if I am fulfilling my first calling to my children, God will use that to minister beyond my boundaries, and I will have no regrets.
Now as they went on their way, Jesus entered a village. And a woman named Martha welcomed him into her house. And she had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord's feet and listened to his teaching. But Martha was distracted with much serving. And she went up to him and said, "Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Tell her then to help me." But the Lord answered her, "Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things, but one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her."