Thursday, March 8, 2012

Essays on Motherhood {pt. 3 Godly}

See Essays on Motherhood {pt. 1 We are Strong} HERE.
and Essays on Motherhood {pt. 2 Other Mothers} HERE.

I've been wanting to write this post for ages, but it was scatterbrained. I had lots of thoughts that I was trying to pin down and focus on, with the result of having nothing pinned down.
And then about a week ago, I read this quote:
"You are the bearers of the children. You are they who nurture them and establish within them the habits of their lives. No other work reaches so close to divinity as does the nurturing of the sons and daughters of God." {source}
And my thoughts were pinned.
No other work reaches closer to divinity. 
Can any woman, holding her babe to the breast, breathing in his sweet smell, watching his fingers curl doubt that?
I love watching my babies learn. They used to lie and spend hours watching their own hands curl, flex, and wave. They have these new perfect bodies to learn about.  And I get a ringside seat. Every moment of every day, I am there. Teaching, helping, watching. From a baby's point of view, I'm even pretty omniscient. I can see him about to stand up and crack his head on the edge of the table. I can see him reaching for the candle, and I know that it will burn him. I know.
And my days consist of teaching and instructing my children. "This is a triangle. We don't bite. Ducks say quack."
And being an example, hopefully, of kindness, curiosity, love, reverence, spontaneity, and all the other qualities that I aim to have and raise my children with.
I spend my days trying to protect my children, while also allowing them to live and experience things. Every day I have to weigh dangers and decide what I will let them do.
Will I let Grey fall off the couch? It will help him learn to be careful around the edge of the couch and other objects.
Will I let Micah run into the street? It will help him learn that cars are fast and will run you over.
Obviously there is a line drawn between those two things. And I have to draw it. I have been given little human beings to care for and am 100% responsible for them.
And if that isn't enough to convince you that child rearing is a Godlike responsibility, think about the Godlike ability to bear children.
I made two little babies.  I MADE THEM. No craftsman, scientist, or artist in all the world could ever make something so impressive, flawless, powerful, and with so great a capacity.
And I, without any baby making training, made babies. I created life. From an infinitesimal little egg and sperm, with a little help from giant smoothies and bowls of granola... I made PEOPLE.
Seriously think about that for a minute.

It almost makes me feel guilty, to be honest, when I feel this likeness to God. I'm not God. I get that. I'm not all powerful or all-knowing. But if any people on earth have something in common with God... it's not man. Sorry boys. I know you like to talk of our Heavenly Father, and it's probably pretty easy to imagine that since He's a he, and you're a he... you have something in common.
But mothers.
Mothers are as divine and Godlike as you can get, without being God.

Not to brag or anything.

Travis says this post needs a call to action. So here it is. Take yourself seriously. The other day the boys and I were still in pajamas at about 3:30pm.  They hadn't really had solid foods that day, just bottles. I took a picture of us playing on my phone and was going to send it to Travis. I captioned it, "Oops. Today I'm being a bad mom. We're still in pjs!" But I didn't send it. I couldn't.
I wasn't being a bad mom.
We'd spent the day playing and snuggling.  We'd been crawling in and out of the fort over and over and over again. The boys had each spent a good fifteen minutes giving me slobbery, open-mouthed kisses.
I was being a good mom. Getting dressed isn't always part of good mothering.
I went back to my text, and replaced bad with lazy.  It was a lazy day.
But I couldn't send that.
I'd done four loads of laundry and washed all the dishes.
Sure, our house still looked like a freaking pigsty. But I wasn't being lazy.
I went back and erased the whole caption. I'm pretty sure that I sent it with a caption like "Happy boys!"
But for some reason, even though I'd spent the whole day loving, cleaning, playing, kissing, and being forcefully fed graham crackers I felt inadequate. Like getting my kids dressed was more important than covering them with kisses, and making silly faces at them.  Like cooking them a well-balanced lunch that they wouldn't eat anyway was more important that reading "Animals" fourteen times in a row, and making all the different animal sounds (including several that I've made up... for example, half the time the penguin clicks like Snoopy pretending to be a penguin in A Charlie Brown Christmas, and half the time he says "Hello! I'm a fancy penguin! Do you like my tuxedo?"... I'm pretty sure that penguins do neither of those things.)
I was being an awesome mom. I was doing everything that my kids needed. I was being Godlike. For real.
When you're praying, sobbing, having a hard day and you come before God, he doesn't say "Let's get you dressed and well-fed, for appearances sake. "
Instead, he wraps you up. He sends you warmth and comfort. He sends you love. He whispers to your heart the things you need to hear, and teaches you the things that you need to learn.
And that's what mothers do. Sometimes we look like we're lazy or bad mothers.
Sometimes our kids have boogers crusted on to their noses, because we know that they'll scream and cry if you try to wipe it off and it's just not worth it...
and that's okay.
It's more than okay.
It's good mothering.
And mothering is divine.
My religion (The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints) teaches that there are two places on earth that can truly be defined as "The House of God." One is a temple, which is a sacred and beautiful place.
And one is the home. My home. Your home.
You know who's in charge of helping God feel welcome there? Us. Mothers.
Sure, Fathers, too. But in most cases, Mothers are there more of the time. They cultivate the feelings of the home, whether they be of peace, happiness and love, or whether they be of stress, anger, and frustration. (In general, you know. Obviously even the most loving home can sometimes be filled with angry words or hurt feelings.)
We have a responsibility and ability to be the most divine and Godlike people in our homes and families.  And we need to take it seriously, and take ourselves seriously.
Another quote, by Gordon B. Hinkley says "Women who make a house a home make a far greater contribution to society than those who command large armies or stand at the head of impressive corporations."
Read that. Think about that.
And take yourself seriously.
Because seriously. You are pretty amazing.
Completely divine, one might say.

p.s. Please vote, and please scroll down and read today's other, much shorter post and help a sista out.
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Lana said...

Reply to your comment on mine: I don't have a twitter. I'm a poser. It just worked with those two posts. I'm definitely going to have to visit you and Lauren a lot to not feel so lonesome. And now, I'll read your post. :)

brooke said...

Beck, I LOVE this. So beautifully said. I tire of the ever-cheesy, "oh, motherhood is so great, you're so great because you're a mom, blee blah blee." It feels real here.


Brittany said...

This is amazing. You are amazing. I friggin love you.

Brittany said...

p.s. The new button for my blog is awesome. I squealed! You the best, my friend.

tammy said...

Great essay.

Unknown said...

I vote you the best writer ever. I love these essays more than anything. Holy cow. I want to high 5 you. : )

collette charles said...

this post. is awesome. i have a really hard time sometimes with our church and that little voice in the back of my head that asks if women are valued as much as men. and this brought tears to my eyes and chills on my arms. thanks for posting. beautiful writing, as always.

The Jacksons said...

While I was reading this, I was reminded of a talk I've had folded up in my scriptures for about 10 years, way back from my seminary days. It's called The Women of God by Neal A. Maxwell. It's very similar to what you've written. And it's beautiful. Go read it, I think you'll enjoy it :)

Claire said...

These posts are my favorite. Pretty sure I write that exact sentence every time I comment on one of your essays, but it's really true.

Also, you have 401 followers. That's incredible!

Love you.

F as in Frank said...


amberly said...

I just stumbled across your blog and I absolutely love it. Firstly, your boys are so precious and beautiful. But I just wanted to say that I admire you so much for being so strong in your beliefs and having the strength to stay at home with your boys. I'm also LDS, I'm a BYU student studying human development and I am so excited for the time when I can access this divinity that you are talking about and be given the blessing of raising children. I agree so much with what you said in this post. The sad thing is, it's becoming almost socially unacceptable for a woman to have these feelings. That's how I feel at least. So thank you for being a mother and for loving your children and for following God's plan even if it isn't popular. I think you are great.

jo said...

I love this post. I love the idea of teaching our babies to be wonderful people. Though, at the same time, there is a large part of me that struggles with the the gray line of divinity here. Where does my teaching end and their agency begin? Is their behavior a result of my efforts or their initiative? And my God-like creation(s) is only at the hand of God, so is that still God-like? I love this post and yet I worry for mothers who find so much of their self-worth in their identity as a mother. I think women like that are prone to wrap "their" accomplishments up in their children. And when thats the case, you're only as valuable as your children's best accomplishment. Does that make sense? I have a mother like that and the claim she lays on all the things I've done of my own accord...well its frustrating to say the least.
And as far as the sentiment about women doing more for mankind by being a mother than by any other means... I disagree. And frankly, I think its a bit old school sexist. I think you can have inordinate amounts of influence for good in a plethora of roles, only one of which as a mom. If we were talking good for the world as an actual tangential means, couldn't you do more by spreading it around? I say this not as a criticism of the role by any means, but rather as a genuine inquiry. I want to know what you think. I like how you think and its so different than how I think that I find it enlightening. This is going to be the longest comment ever but whatever.
Lastly, I read a quote from Stendahl once that I've never forgotten. He said, "All geniuses born women are lost to the public good." I've thought about that quote many many times. At times, I think only a genius would recognize their role is served best as a public good. At other times, I thought about this in terms of my role as a working mother. Do I do equal good as a servant of the public through work or through rearing my children? Can I do both?
I'd like to think that I've come to the answer that my children are merely one means of influence for good I have on the world. I can do equal amount of influence as the head of an Army or an impressive corporation. And I can choose between the two if I'd like and channel my influence through a more limited means. I think you think this too. You give back to the world not solely through your children or your role as a mother. You give back - you influence for good - when you serve others. You just choose to do that in a non-professional role.
Again, I hope this doesn't come off as critical but rather just raising points in an ongoing conversation about our different opinions on our shared role, a role we both see as having infinite value.

Tregani Lanham said...

I've been reading your blog for the past few months and I just have to tell you what an inspiration you are. I love how real and genuine your writing is. And your boys are absolutely adorable. Your words and beautiful photos make me so excited to be a mother someday.