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Jen Pollock Michel

( author + writer + speaker )

On Mother's Day: And why mothers aren't meant for indispensability

I am a mother. Five children in seven years: yes, I am a mother. I am also a wife, daughter, friend, neighbor, even an author now. There are so many parts of me that cannot be reduced to “mother.”

I am a mother nonetheless - although this year has been different than the eleven previous. This past fall, I sent my youngest two off to school (and the older three for that matter), and I did it in order to write a book, a book about desire. Although writing a book has required me to ship my kids off to school between the hours of 9 and 3 (notice, we only use the verb, “shipping,” in the context of children and school when we mean to indicate gross maternal selfishness and neglect), I wonder less now if it was a selfish thing to want and to do. I think I’m (finally?) over the guilt of this.

And I must admit that gaining a little bit of distance of motherhood has helped me appreciate its beauty. Motherhood in these last eleven years have been a little bit like drinking from a fire hose: fast and furious have been the torrent of responsibilities, and so much of the time, I was simply trying not to drown. Who had the time to notice whether the water tasted good?

I do now.

It’s Saturday, and I watching from the window of our bedroom as the twins ride up and down the sidewalk in front of our house. Who’s that? I wonder, staring at one of our twin boys. With his helmet on, I don’t recognize him. Red. Oh yeah, the red helmet, realizing it’s Colin - and of course he would be the one wearing his rain boots under this first sunny spring sky. Andrew is behind him. He’s losing grip on his pedals at every other rotation. They are laughing together, their two bikes a parade of childhood fun.

And then there is a collision.

Colin’s bike has turned over and dumped him sprawling on the sidewalk. He’s crying. I’m watching from the window, hesitating only for the moment of readying myself to spring into maternal action.

But before I have the time to turn, Nathan drops his basketball and rushes to Colin’s side. I can’t hear the loving words I see him murmuring in his ear, but Colin has stopped crying. Brushing his knees, he stands to his feet. Big brothers have a knack for inspiring that kind of confidence.

I am a mother. This is a good and beautiful and noble task - and one I want to do prayerfully.

Establish the work of my hands; yes, establish the work of my hands. (Psalm 90:17).

But thank God, mothers aren’t meant to be indispensable.