In reality, as the mother of small children, yesterday wasn't very different from any other Sunday. Okay, so there was the breakfast in bed, which arrived promptly at 7:45, as we had to leave for church by 8:15, and there was the extra long Sunday afternoon nap (thank you, Paul). Then there was the gorgeous brunch at Micki's house in between, followed by a sunny trip to the playground to let the little ones release their crazy energy. Otherwise, there was still the never-ending shushing during church, the many spats between the siblings, the dishwashing throughout the day, and the fatigue that overtook this mommy by about 8 o'clock in the evening.
And then there is this:
This, my friends, is my gift. Okay, so I helped buy it, but Paul chipped in, and he and Charlie stayed up late putting it together for me (a la Ikea), and I can tell you it has already made my life easier. :) This bookcase for my sewing corner (and also Charlie's art supplies) is one of those things that maybe I wouldn't appreciate nearly so much if I had a house with a sewing room (or even a laundry room, for that matter) and didn't understand how important it really is to keep things impeccably tidy and organized. But now that I have lots of experience living in a tiny city condo with two kids, I am just about drooling over this blessed oasis of organization. If I could marry this bookcase, I would.
Which is bringing me to my point, in a round about way, as usual. At times I find myself wishing for things like a house with a yard and a garden, or enough money to just stay home with my kids without having to keep other kids just to pay the bills. What I should be doing, instead of looking at those things that are just out of my reach right now, is to look at the wonderful things that I DO have: a really cute two-bedroom condo on the ground floor (as opposed to the one-bedroom on the second floor that we lived in prior to this one), the opportunity to be home with my kids (even if it means being stretched a little thinner due to watching other little ones, as well), a really great husband who works hard and loves to be home with us at the end of the day. When I count my blessings, (like this incredibly functional and aesthetically pleasing craft cubby), I'm so much happier than when I picture things that I don't have and "just can't live without."
And there is such virtue in going without. Not that I'm calling myself "virtuous," please understand. I just want to teach my kids the value of self-denial--the virtue of saying "no" once in a while to things that we would love to have, even when there is nothing inherently wrong with having them--and the art of loving the things that we have, even if they aren't our first choice.
I read another blog this afternoon whose author was paying tribute to her mother. It was a beautiful expression of thanks for all her "Mama's" sacrifices over the years. Giving of oneself is not always easy. But a mother is never done with giving of herself. It starts with pregnancy and birth, then nursing and endless nights of little sleep, then everything that follows with child-rearing. Caring for sick little ones, patiently teaching them at all hours of the day, when there is just no more to give. And that's when things are going right! My own mother is a prime example of the kind of self-sacrifice that makes a good mother a great mother--working long hours to send us to a Christian school and take us on great vacations. Even now, my mother spends money on all of us and our kids.
I hope that one day my kids will see me as a mom that made a few sacrifices but was overjoyed to do so. I hope that they will hold me up as an example, but not a martyr. It's a blessing to have an opportunity to give so that my children's needs will be met. And it's a blessing to teach them these important lessons in priority, virtue, and self-sacrifice.
Honestly, though, I have really great kids. Maybe I wouldn't feel this way if they weren't so beautiful. ;)
See what I mean?
Mother's Day 2010