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A Bundle of Myrrh

"My beloved is unto me as a bundle of myrrh." Song of Solomon 1:13

The Office of Mother Part I

February 11th, 2014 by Aubri

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First of all have any of you noticed that I’m turning into a Posting Machine! I think I’m finally coming out of the Pregnancy and Post-partum malaise that I spend the majority of my life in. I’m working out, watching what I eat and most days getting things done!

But enough of that, on with the post that got WAY too long so now it’s a 2 parter.

This Fall I read Family Vocation: God’s Calling in Marriage, Parenting and Childhood by Gene Edward Veith Jr. I recommend it. He made some very comforting points in his chapter on The Office of Motherhood. I wanted to share a few.

I also wanted to talk a bit of what I’m learning in my office of mother. I don’t consider myself a fount of wisdom, I’m still very much in survival mode of parenting (maybe that never changes….), in the trenches of life with littles and just trying to figure it all out. But for what it’s worth I thought I’d discuss a few things I’m being taught in this vocation.

This post may be more helpful for the overwhelmed Mama….

1) I didn’t know how terrible of a person I was until….I became a mother.

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Well, until I became the mother of more than one child. My first baby was a breeze. Lily slept through the night at 11 weeks old and not just all night but until 8:30 in the morning.  My patience with her seemed endless. I was in love. This love affair with my only child lasted 10 months before Clara was born.

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Clara was loud. She was not a good sleeper and she needed me! I had two babies to care for. I suddenly was not patient, not as “loving” as I thought I was and very frustrated. I found myself thinking, “Enough already! This is too much for me!”

Then we had a third baby and we were officially outnumbered. I was even more overwhelmed with work and mess and noise.

Then we had a fourth baby and then a fifth baby. From there, three babies seemed like a walk in the park of “What was I complaining about back then?” Three now felt like a Vacation!

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With five babies I was weary and worn down. And so afraid of another baby to care for. I asked God, “How much more will you give me? How can you ask me to mother these babes well when I’m so tired, so scared and so angry over the sacrifices I have to make all day long?” At times I resented the task of being a mother. Resented the lack of freedom. I felt trapped in my house, in my work. I felt like a House Girl working sun up to sun down not enjoying life at all.

Resentment, anger, jealousy, selfishness = MEAN MAMA. I’d get up every morning, praying “God forgive me for being MEAN MAMA, please help me not be MEAN MAMA today.” But MEAN MAMA always shows up at some point and lets go ahead and bring MEAN WIFE in here too. Making me wonder “Why can’t I just get rid of MEAN MAMA?! I should be able to do better than this right!?

No. I can’t

Which leads me to my next point.

2) Being a mother is a life of constant repentance.

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I’m full of sin, my children are full of sin. In our house there is a LOT of SIN. A lot to repent of.

“Likewise the faith of which we speak exists in repentance, i.e., it is conceived in the terrors of conscience, which feels the wrath of God against our sins, and seeks the remission of sins, and to be freed from sin. And in such terrors and other afflictions this faith ought to grow and be strengthened.” From the Defense of the Augsburg Confession

And what’s even harder than all the work is facing the one thing that makes being a mother the hardest for me, I’M A BIG FAT SINNER and I’m not “getting better” at being a mother I’m just “getting busier”.

Motherhood is servitude. Servitude means dying to self. I HATE DYING.

My flesh feels like I should be able to love and serve my my beloved babies without losing my temper, without grumbling, with a cheerful heart and with thanksgiving. The truth is I CAN’T. Only through God’s grace will I at times be able to do these things, but I will continually all my life FAIL to do these things. I will continually SIN. I will continually NEED TO REPENT and BE FORGIVEN. Over and over again. This is the “Victorious Christian life”

Lather, Rinse….Repeat.

 

3) God provides HELP

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As I said, with 5 children I didn’t know how I’d possibly be able to care for another. I was afraid of having more children.

Then came Mercy. Sweet baby #6 and I was full of joy and so relieved and amazed that I was full of joy when I found out she was coming. But I knew that very familiar exhausting journey of pregnancy while taking care of 5 other babies was just beginning and I was more overwhelmed. I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again, raising children IS HARD. Physically, mentally, emotionally….HARD.

 “The physical suffering and even danger of labor soon gives way to the daily drudgery and self-denials that are entailed in raising small children. When the children are older, mothers are still subject to anxieties, stress and sometimes heartbreak. Yes, motherhood is also full of great joys and satisfactions. But we should not minimize the difficulties. And mothers certainly should not feel guilty when the pains seem to exceed the joys, as if they were bad mothers just because they are not always happy when dealing with their children. Motherhood is a solemn vocation of the greatest importance, and all vocations bring with them their own trials and tribulations. Mothers suffer and sacrifice themselves to create and sustain new life.” Veith

Emommy wrote this wonderful post about being a new mama of 4. “Does it get easier?” she asked a friend. It made me think about what I would tell her if she had asked me that. Honestly I’d probably just stare blankly and say “I don’t know, does it?!” But I think I’d also tell her “Yes and No.” It gets “Different.” It’s all about perspective.

My oldest girls at 5 and 4 can dress themselves now, put on their shoes and coats, hang their clothes up, sweep and wipe the table. THIS makes my life easier and because of this I can look into the next 10 years with relief and say, “This is going to get easier.”

But I also have SIX children now, that’s more than 2 or 3 if you didn’t know, that means MORE. MORE babies to feed, MORE cups of milk to keep filled, MORE pancakes to cut up, MORE kids to keep happy in the car, MORE clothes to wash, MORE booties to wipe, MORE booties to spank, MORE messes to clean, MORE hugs to give, MORE owies to kiss, MORE questions to answer, MORE. More doesn’t make “Easier” in my book.

But Hard  is not a bad thing (though I will resent it because as I said, I’M A BIG FAT SINNER and me no likey to work hard). Work is not a bad thing.

God is a loving and good Father. He gives His children Good things. My husband, my babies, my work, all these MORES, these are good things. I AM THE ONE THAT’S NOT GOOD.

(I’m so bad that I complain about how hard it is to be a mother but also how menial it is.The truth is this a lot of the work I do is hard in its tedium. My pride says this work is beneath me. AND I STILL FAIL AT IT! HA HA HA HA AHAHA HA! I digress.)
“Motherhood is undoubtedly draining. Though the sacrifices of a mother may go so far as to demand her very life, the normal ways she denies herself to love and serve the child who is her neighbor are much more mundane. These services may be the most difficult cross for her to bear. The tedium, the nonstop demands, the sense that it never ends can wear a mother down. “I went to college for this?” “Can’t I have a life any more apart from my kids?” Still, even while these thoughts are running through their minds, mothers can know on the deepest level that this is all worthwhile, feeling an overwhelming love for their children. And if they know about vocation, they can realize that this love is a participation in God’s love-for her child, but also for her.” Veith
I’m learning to see that through the vocations of others, God provides the HELP I NEED. The times the Phil makes a shut-in visit and takes 1 or 2 of the babies with him or goes running with the Baby Train and 4 get to go along, when he gives me an hour to myself in my room and watches the kiddos. I might sound terrible to say “I need a break.” But there it is. 6 children can make a lot of noise, make a lot of demands. I naturally crave quiet. So there are times I just want to be alone to recharge.
These little breaks are a HUGE HELP. God is providing for me through my husband. When my neighbor invites one of the Boogers to her house to play or folds a basket of towels while she’s visiting. This is God providing HELP.  I’m learning to SEE that help from His gracious hand.
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He also gives me funny kids….very helpful. There are moments I can get my head out of the work and SEE that these babies of mine are amazing. I get to watch their lives unfold and I marvel at it. God is good all the time.
“I lift up my eyes to the hills.
From where does my help come?
My help comes from the Lord,
who made heaven and earth.”

I’ll share a few more delightful insights with you all tomorrow. I know you can’t wait.

Read Part II of The Office Of Mother

 

6 Responses to “The Office of Mother Part I”

  1. carrie says:

    I love reading your posts and looking at your pictures! Looking forward to part two :)

  2. Aubri says:

    Thank you Carrie! I like looking at the pictures of all the laundry baskets overflowing (cuz I have a lot of those) and knowing that “Hey, I got that folded and actually put away.” :)

  3. krissy says:

    Such great thoughts. I miss you. Wish I was there to hold some of those babies and fold some laundry.

  4. jenny says:

    Well a new book has just been added to my Must Read list!

  5. Aubri says:

    Miss you too Krissy! And you know I’d let you fold, hold and probably….mop cuz I can’t think of anything else to rhyme with old except scold and that’s MY job! :)

    Yes, Jenny, this is definitely worth reading!

  6. Emily says:

    Aubri, my fellow sister in Christ, this helps me so much! “So tired, so scared, so angry”…”lather, rinse, repeat”…”I’m better than this!” . . “God provides the help.” Cycles of sin and repentence and forgiveness. Thank God He redeems us mean mamas over and over again. Thank you for your clarity, honesty, and faithful confession. Hugs!!