One thing I love about Ann Voskamp's writing on her blog, "A Holy Experience," is her honesty.
I try to be honest when I write, but don't always say everything I want to, mostly because, well, this isn't my journal, not everything should be on the Internet, and I want to hold onto that little bit of myself, that yen to preserve myself from judgment.
But Voskamp doesn't pull punches. In a pre-Mother's Day post last week, she wrote about how no woman is the perfect mom, because that woman, the "Hallmark mother," does not exist.
"If we’re honest — and what else is there really — there were burnt dinners and yelling mornings.
And neck strained words over lost shoes and scattered Legos and unfinished homework and there were crumpled tears behind bathroom doors.
Not to mention the frozen pizzas and no clean underwear and the wild words no one would want the cameras rolling for.
And the realization — that a mother’s labor and delivery never ends and you never stop having to remember to breathe."
She has six kids, so she knows of what she speaks. A couple of sentences down, she writes about womanhood, regardless of motherhood. These sentences struck me as both an acknowledgment and, in a small way, a benediction:
"The deal is — Motherhood isn’t sainthood and we’re all a bunch of sinners here and don’t let anyone tell you any different — pushing something out of your womb doesn’t make you a better woman.
Real Womanhood isn’t a function of becoming a great mother, but of being loved by your Great Father. Someone write that on a card with a bouquet of flowers. We all need that."
I know women who have six beautiful children, have struggled with infertility, experienced (sometimes multiple) miscarriages, but regardless, we are all called to be mothers, whether it's as aunts, sisters, friends, godmothers, or adoptive mothers, and to nurture those we love.
I'm not a mother, and while I want to be, I sometimes toy — unpleasantly — with the idea that maybe I should give that particular dream up because, even if I'm blessed with a husband, will I even be able to have children? I don't know. And I do terribly with not knowing (and with being patient, and being wrong. Hi, I'm human. *Waves to the group*).
Women joke about biological clocks ticking, but the idea I may not ever be a mother is, without being able to explain exactly how, a physical ache (yes, I would adopt, but not without a husband. Children need fathers). And I have a (stupid) tendency to discount being a spiritual mother, thinking of it as somehow less, forgetting that, "motherhood is a hallowed space because children aren’t commonplace, that anyone who fosters dreams and labor prayers is a mother..."
I have five godchildren, some I see frequently, others less often. They all have moms (and dads) who care for their daily needs, but they are in my heart, in my prayers. Small as my occasional cards and gifts may be in the grand scheme of things, that doesn't make my love, or its impact, less. I need to remember that.