Motherhood holds within it's courses a series of compromises. We compromise a wardrobe of nice stylish clothes for those adorned with spit up and smeared peanut butter on the shoulder. We compromise quiet thoughtful moments alone for never-ending days of slamming doors, stomping feet, tired cries and squeals of laughter. We compromise well written and interesting novels for bedtime stories full of make believe creatures and enchanting pictures. And somewhere in it all, we find that the compromises make us better women. Give us greater desires. WE find ourselves wanting to compromise our own selfish needs and desires for those of our children. We work tirelessly creating a world for these precious souls in our charge. Ever conscious, ever careful to nurture, love and protect. Some days we are bold and strong. Some days we are vigilant and inspired. But in the end we find that sometimes it's necessary to compromise good, for good enough.
We are mothers. We carry the burdens of the world on our shoulders and the tender miracles of the future in our hands...
One of the most successful women's lessons I've ever witnessed at church started with Kitty Sue Anderson reading off a four page to-do list of the 'perfect mother'. She never got to ask a question or make a single comment. Every woman in the room it seemed, started making comments, divulging the unspoken secret of dirty houses, unmade dinners, and other neglected household duties. For the first time, I felt a camaraderie and a belonging to those women. I felt a new-found relief and comfort in the illusion that I was not so different or inadequate a homemaker as I have always believed. I was among sisters.
I have tried to remember that comfort. I've tried to hold onto it. But good feelings tend to slip away once all the women go home and get back to the work of grinding their wheat, cooking their casseroles and homeschooling.
This week we were almost on time to church. We sat nearly on the front row because of it. It should have been easy to pay attention to the speakers. Instead my attention was drawn to the frayed edges of a small hole in the upper leg of A's pants. My boy, dressed like a vagrant at church. Not because we are destitute, or in need. But, because his mother had failed him. They were the only clean pants he had to wear. That idea stuck in my throat reminding me of all the things I've failed to do recently. All the neglected housework. All the responsibilities that have slipped through the cracks. It did not do me any good to turn away from him. My attention only turned to MK. I had barely combed her hair. No pig tails, no pretty bows to match her outfit. Her hair was full of static, and what wasn't sticking straight up, was stuck flat across her forehead like a sweaty cowboy who has just removed his hat. I was too busy preparing my lesson and getting myself ready to take good care of her. It's not as if people wouldn't see her, stare at her. A bright pink wheelchair tends to draw attention. Another reminder of a mother failed. Another rush of guilt. I should have listened to the speakers. Perhaps there could have been some solace to glean from their words. Instead, I diverted my eyes downward to stare awkwardly at the floor, unable to rid my mind of it's own cruelty.
The last few months of life have come at me with a barrage of adventures filled with complications and the necessity of arduous response. I am a weary survivor.
Today I sent A to school with dirty pants, and a wrinkled shirt, but with clean underwear. MK's socks don't match, her hair is full of static again, but there are pigtails in it.
It's all about compromise.
I may not be the kind of mother I want to be.
My house may not be as clean as it should be.
The laundry may not be finished. Or started.
I may not be a good mother.
But I am good enough.