The Chief End of Mom

From the Westminster Shorter Catechism:

What is the chief end of man?
Man's chief end is to glorify God.

What is the chief end of *mom*?

I was one of those young married adults that other young married adults with children love to hate--and with good reason. I remember saying it--"when I have children, they will not run my life. They will be along for the ride." My friends who already had children were kind enough not to snort with laughter in my presence, upon hearing my naive pronouncement...No one said "Yeah right. We thought that too."--at least not to my face.

And then we had a child.

And if you have any common sense, or at least one child of your own, you know that even before they are born, they tend to take over and change everything, from your body to your marriage, to your dreams. It's just the nature of the beast. Becoming a parent changes you, in ways you never conceive of beforehand.

Fast forward to today. I am the mother of a fifteen year old and an eight year old. I like to think I have this motherhood gig going pretty good. Most days. OK Some days.

Once in a while.

Throughout the years I have been thoroughly and soundly spanked by all the ways that being a mother has changed me, all the ways I have been challenged, all the ways I have sacrificed for the good of those two boys. An outsider observing my life would probably conclude that a boy named Julian and a boy named Grey are indeed the Masters of my Universe.

However, there are times when I still stomp my proverbial foot in child-like defiance and declare loudly that my children are not my masters. Yes, at times, it seems that my life revolves completely around two boys who share my last name, but in fact, I would be doing them a grave disservice if I allow them to think that they are in charge of my life. And in truth, it's a disservice to myself as well. While they are important, their health and well-being, their provisions, their happiness and self-esteem are not the answer to that question "what is the chief end of man?"

When I drop into bed in the wee hours of the morning, after a day of breakfasts, lunches, laundry, scouts, cajoling, chaperoning, referee-ing, correction, and 100 other son-centered tasks, there's a good chance that I don't think of myself, in that moment, as having done a fantastic job of "glorifying God". More often than not, I merely survived the day.

Sometimes, surviving is all I can do. It's all I've got. It's the bare minimum. And to be honest, I hate that.

Who wants to just survive? Shouldn't my aim go just a smidge higher than that? Is mere survival really what it means to live in Christ? I just don't buy that. Does survival mode glorify my Creator? I'm thinking not.

Granted, I deal with serious things. A child with brain damage. A husband who travels for work quite extensively. A malfunctioning body. Dysfunction and disillusionment. These are things that eat away at ones soul and lower long-term expectations from *live big* to *mere survival*. And let's not mention the menial and the perfunctory that comes with motherhood.

A few weeks ago, my much younger and definitely more cool than me sister came to town to hang out with the sons for a weekend so Joal and I could go away in honor of our milestone (twenty year) wedding anniversary. To say that the boys were excited for her visit would be akin to declaring the opening games of the Olympics mildly entertaining. They were over the moon.

Aunt Deb is the fun older sister they don't have. She has a driver's licence, her own money that she's willing to share, and she does cool things, like take them bowling, to the park and to play air hockey at the arcade. She feeds them leftover pizza for breakfast, Dunkin Donuts for snack, Chick fil A for lunch and Sonic for dinner (on the patio, no less). And then to end the day, this fearless threesome made Rice Krispie Treats with M&Ms before they watched a movie at bedtime.

She's the fun, cute, snappy young version of me. (She is actually 16 years younger than me, and yes, we have the same parents.) I have trouble doing fun with them. I'm the uber responsible one, thanks in part to being the oldest,  marrying an oldest and facing the things we've faced across the last twenty years. I'm the one who makes sure they are on time, clean, well-dressed and prepared. I supervise the homework. I sign the medical releases and send in the checks for lunch money. I drag them to the library and make sure they check out at least one book that is respectable.

I'm the one who says things like "drink your milk" or "turn off the tv and go ride your bike, you're turning into a vegetable". It's true. I've forgotten how to have fun. In my survival mode, fun has all but disappeared.

In the days following her visit, I was regaled with stories of the adventures my two boys had with the fun Aunt Deb. I couldn't be more proud of my sister, Fun Aunt Deb. She fills a need in their lives and she made me see something I'd been missing. I was reminded that to be a parent is to be about more than just mere survival. It requires engagement and attention to details that aren't necessarily *the big things*. While I can't be Aunt Deb's kind of over-the-top fun every single day, I can engage the fun mom more often and with more intentionality than has been present lately.

Conquering Mount Laundry and overcoming that phenomenal display of dirty dishes on the counter is not the chief end of motherhood, for sure. A made bed does not glorify God more than unmade one. (You can quote me on that.) And those things surely don't qualify me for fun mom of the year in the eyes of two boys.

Somewhere along the way, enjoyment of my little family became optional, in my quest to not be completely run over by this thing called motherhood. My vision for life became narrowed and I allowed the big things we deal with to become the only things we deal with.

And that's not working.

So, I'm on the hunt to find the fun and get "fun mom"--or at least "less serious mom"--back into our lives. Don't get me wrong--we will not be eating at more than three fast food places in one day--I will leave that for the mega-fun Aunt Deb with her still-under-30 metabolism.

Little steps, right? Short embraces of fun sandwiched between periods of responsibility. We can do that.

1 comment:

maria f. said...

OK, I'm still here, reading your blog and I admit it. You are an amazing writer. I have been nodding in agreement, laughing out loud and at the same time I have tears in my eyes. All in the space of one post. You have no comments on this post and it's one of the best things I've ever read... something needs to be done about this Sarah.