A woman on a parenting list I was on asked us what it was like to be a parent. I was expecting our seventh child at the time. This was my reply:
I was totally unprepared for the physical impact of mothering; for me it has
been an overwhelmingly sensual experience. I don’t mean sensual in an erotic
way. I mean that all my senses are involved, affected, enjoyed in a brand new
way. Nothing on earth smells like one’s own new baby, affects my sense of
touch like the feel of my baby’s little head, sounds like an infants totally
captivating giggle, tastes so sweet when one kisses him/her, or is so
enchantingly engaging that one can just sit and gaze at the new little one for
It continues for me as they grow older. I love listening to my 14 year old
discuss life, sing as she goes about her chores, and play the piano. I love
tangling my fingers in my 12 year old’s curls, listening to her read aloud to
her younger sisters. I enjoy the feel of pat-a-cake with my mentally
handicapped ten year old, the sound of her funny little voice singing her odd
little songs. I have dropped laundry on the floor to lean against the bathroom
door and listen to my eight year old sing songs in the shower about her day-
“Oh, my mom wasn’t very nice to me. She won’t let me play in the hail. When I
grow up I’ll go get a new mom who will let me outside whenever I want, but that
will make my old mama sad so maybe I wooon’t”- all sung as dramatic opera. It
catches at my heart to watch the seven and eight year olds skip along, holding
hands and chanting nursery rhymes, to have my nearly two-year old come running
up with concern on her face when I cough to ask, “Drink? Mommy want drink?” I
can hardly keep my heart from bursting when I watch one of them learn something
new, proudly read a first book, figure out how to measure area, learn to ride a
bike. Their own faces are so full of light and joy…
So many times in my mothering walk I have wanted to grab time with both hands
and make it stop forever at this or that perfect moment, but time keep rushing
on, dragging me breathless along with it to other perfect moments.
What are the rewards? They are intangible, immeasurable, invaluable,
What are the cons? Well, there are other sensory experiences not quite so
pleasant- poopy diapers, upset stomachs, accidents requiring stitches,
listening to the children bicker or whine… but the madcap race of time is a
help and a comfort, here.
It is a sacrifice of many things if you do it right. But I have learned that
there is truth in the adage that is better to give than to receive, or that if
you “give, and it shall be given unto you, pressed down and running over.”
Is everything always wonderful, and am I every moment starry eyed with
delight? No, but I know of no experience, no job, no relationship that is.
You will know fears and worries you never knew before. You will have hope,
dreams, and joys you never had before. The word responsibility takes on new,
and weightier meaning.
And you will love it!