Well, I take that back - it's quiet except for Hayden, who is squirming and complaining on my lap. He's been in a grouchy mood all day, and I think I've nursed him 49 times. Possibly less, but it doesn't feel like it. Lily is chattering in the background too - covering her doll with a maroon plastic pasta strainer and singing "wash, wash, wash." (Give that girl an A+ for creativity, because I promise she isn't reenacting anything she's seen here before.)
But it's more quiet here than usual, because the rest of my kids are dispersed throughout our town tonight....some are playing football in a park with their older brother, a few are off on an ice cream date with Daddy, and Mackenzie is staying the night with a friend from work whose husband is out of town.
So I'm here at the computer with a fussy baby on my lap, and a mountain of weekend laundry to do (deja vu??) and there is a thought that has been running through my head all day...
Motherhood is the ultimate blessing.
I read a few things online this weekend that contradicted that statement, some sentiments that ran cross-grain to that truth, and it set the wheels in motion for this post.
I don't want to create drama on my sweet little bloggy, because I feel like there is enough drama in this world, don't you? Social media, talk radio, talk shows- they all almost lend themselves to drama. Because everybody is entitled to their own opinion in this day and age, dontcha know?
So without linking to the places where motherhood was given a bad rap, and maybe stirring up the pot as a result, I just want to say a few things that I believe to be true. And if this happens to step on any toes as a result, that was not my intention.
But this is my blog, and as a mom to eleven, I do feel like I have a little room to speak. I'm not an expert by any stretch of the imagination, but I am... a mother. And I've been one for over 25 years.
And as a mother, I would just like to say...
...that motherhood is the ultimate blessing.
It is an honor to be a mom. It is a privilege.
There are women who would give anything to have what I have. Anything. I have loved ones and friends who desperately want to have children but are unable to do so. And before anyone is quick to offer the solution of adoption, let me just say that I have pretty good "second hand" experience in that area. Adoption is almost never quick, and it is never easy. Having watched my own daughter-in-law struggle with infertility, and knowing she will never be able to conceive a child, has given me a profound appreciation for the gift that I once took so lightly.
But moving beyond that ability to conceive and carry children, what I really want to address is what motherhood means on a day to day basis.
I'm talking brass tacks here: changing diapers, doing laundry, serving breakfast, doing dishes, cleaning up after messes made - the list is endless.
And even beyond that, motherhood is the job - yes, the privilege - of shaping little hearts and minds.
And THAT is what I mean when I say that motherhood is the ultimate blessing.
I once read that the hand that rocks the cradle rules the world.
That thought both inspires and terrifies me.
What I put into my children, good or bad, can influence a generation. The decisions that I make on a day to day basis can have effect on lives - and other lives - for years to come. I have in my power, quite literally, the ability to change the future. Every single day I'm given the opportunity to pass on my values, to infuse what I believe into my children, to impart in them a desire to do great things with their lives: to be compassionate, to be kind and loving, to be gracious, to be selfless, to serve others, to love God.
And I take that role very seriously.
Do I have moments...sometimes days...when I feel like all hell is breaking loose here?
Does it seem that sometimes the universe - at least my little universe at the Rice Ranch - is diametrically opposed to every good thing I'm trying to accomplish as a mother?
Without a doubt.
In fact, I can honestly say that most days feel like that.
Because being a good mother is a fight.
And for the most part it is a fight against self.
Because - truth be told - I really like myself.
I would rather not have to wake up in the middle of the night to walk the floors with a crying infant.
I would rather not break up an argument over which cereal bowl belongs to which child - first thing in the morning.
I would rather not have to remind my teenager - AGAIN - that getting on the computer should never happen without first asking permission.
I would like to be able to go to the bathroom - just once - without someone knocking on the door to tell me that so-and-so won't give them their pencil.
I would love to go through the day without having to stop everything many, many, many times to discuss what our house rules are. (The same house rules we've had since time immemorial ...like do not get on the computer without asking.)
And myself is the one who has to be the enforcer of all these rules. (And yes, I realize I just used myself as a subject, which is a big grammar no-no.)
As a mother, my job can best be described as a constant - and I do mean constant - dying to self.
Which is why it is the ultimate blessing.
Motherhood is the job of shaping little hearts and minds, and in the process it is shaping me. It is forcing me - if I let it - to be shaped and molded into a better person. One who is patient and kind and selfless. One who lowers her voice when she feels like raising it. One who bites her tongue when she feels like snapping back. One who demonstrates to her children who she wants them to be by the way she speaks, by the tone of voice she uses, by the words she chooses.
Because more than anyone in this world (except for God and their dad) I have the power to influence my children. Beyond what the media or teachers or political leaders or friends can influence them with- I have the power to help my children be great.
That's a great burden, and it's also a wonderful blessing.
The ultimate blessing.
And just as I was finishing typing those words, Hayden decided he was ready for his 50th meal of the day. So I'll end my thoughts with these ancient words of truth :