Long, long ago, on a farm far away, I knew that being a mother was hard. I didn’t know experientially that everything about pregnancy sucked except the baby (which, when it gets out, almost exclusively wants to suck), that the weeks after the hardest thing I have ever done in my life (getting that baby out) would make me look back on college insomnia fondly as a comparatively restful time, and that Ransom’s whining is infinitely more annoying than I occasionally thought my parents, but I had deep premonitions of all these things.
What I did not understand was the difference between hard and hardship. I previously considered mothering the latter, as if comparable to scrounging through the Great Depression or a dear husband’s early death.
While actually having children has ingrained exactly how tiring and demanding they are, it has also made me realize that these apparently negative attributes pale in comparison to the deep meaning with which these children fill my life. Rather than a degrading hardship to which my randomly female body and constricting cultural-religious values have subjected me, motherhood is the most rewarding challenge I have ever struggled through and enjoyed.
I have usually thought of myself as a more brainy, career-oriented woman, not one of those pink- and teddy bear-loving saps who has few other fulfilling life options so might as well bear children as check out customers for Target. And, at 25, I’ve already had a lot of related success in non-family fields: nationally competitive debate careers, national speaking opportunities, scholarships and honors classes, top-level internships, and now a job still a bit too big for me that I find thrilling, intriguing, and inspiring. But, you know what? The kids are better.
Yes, I often feel like I’m going to lose it if yet another shirt gets spit upon or I have to come downstairs to clean up Hurricane Ransom for the seventh time (not an exaggeration) that day, or if I have to scramble around again for something not candy bars to hand that family for dinner while one kid screams for no reason and the other whimpers to nurse. But at the end of the day with them, I’ve trained all of our tempers, done more work in any day at the office ,and taken care of eternal souls. Can’t say that after writing a particularly good op-ed or snapping up the perfect quote for a story.