to be human

The kids and I spent the morning at an outdoor play date. A pastor’s wife invited us over for the morning, and she and I talked while the kids played in the yard. It always amazes me how effortless conversation is between two women on a porch. It seems to come as naturally as breathing.

Much has been written through the years regarding mommy wars. I think even the moms five or so more years behind me had a different and more confusing go of early motherhood than I did. More products. More articles. More die-hard opinions. I don’t know if something has changed again in the culture, but at least in my latest personal experiences, though mothers seem very aware of the threat of potentially divisive topics, no one is interested in hashing things out or dying alone on our hills. We want to respect each other’s hesitations and preferences, and leave room for each of us to do things differently. In other words we want to be supportive of each other.

supportive (adj): providing encouragement or emotional help

support (verb): 1) bear all or part of the weight of; hold up 2) give assistance to, especially financially; enable to function or act 3) to hold up or give strength

support (noun): a thing that bears the weight of something or keeps it upright

hold up, bear, carry, keep up, brace, help, aid, assist, pillar, post, prop, underpinning, base, maintenance, keep, sustenance, subsistence

Once we got past the initial “I’m okay, are you okay?” check-in making sure we both understood that realistically there would be no social distancing among the children, we turned them lose in the back yard and settled into our chairs. For two hours neither one of us left our seats, unless it was to fetch a toddler who’d wandered around to the front of the house, and then to be excused to step inside and change a smelly diaper. After about an hour, a mom-talk went out to the bigger kids overflowing from the preschool playgound equipment to watch out for the littler ones under their feet.

One of the trade-offs that’s come with homeschooling is it’s taken away some of the summer sparkle. Two moms I’ve talked to recently have mentioned the learning time and projects they’re doing with their kids since summertime started. I did this too when my kids were in school, and even though we limped along with our school books this week, I could tell it wouldn’t work to not have change with a changing season. I’m not saying this so much to compare myself to those moms, but more to acknowledge the difference now and be thankful for those memories.

It occurred to me also that I don’t really know what’s fueling my mothering life these days. I’m no longer running on the fuel of “raising the next generation”. I don’t need anyone telling me motherhood is “a woman’s highest calling” in order to validate my work or make me feel better for being covered in spit-up. Those words mattered and fueled me then, so in no way am I meaning to discount or discredit them, regardless of whether or not the truth behind those words is misleading or over-glorified. The paradox of “teach them diligently” and “you’re not in control and never were” is too much to try and wrap my head around to formulate a thought.

But where the mind has failed me, the heart makes up for. Love and joy, that’s what fueling me now, with a deep belief that all human years are important. It doesn’t mean I’m not tired. It doesn’t mean I don’t get sad. It doesn’t mean my heart isn’t ever slowly breaking. It does mean I’m becoming more human as a mother, and to be human is to be hungry, exposed, and in need. To be human is to be born, live once, and then die. To be human is to at some point despise your humanity, and if not yours then somebody else’s. To be human is to fall down and to never forget it. To be human is to know even my whole heart is not enough without God’s.

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