On my way to work this morning, Dr. Scott Peck’s comments about love came to mind. In The Road Less Traveled, Dr. Peck says that all love requires courage and work…courage because a person risks rejection, heartache, and perhaps even despair if his or her love is not returned or is little value to another. The work part comes in because of the sacrifices a person has to make in the name of love. I say “has to make” because according to Dr. Peck, if you say that you love someone and yet you do nothing (or very little) for that person, then it’s not love, and there are no exceptions. None.
So how does this relate to motherhood? I see young parents enraptured with the perfect little beings they have brought into this world, and I’m hopeful that things will go well for the little family. And yet, I know from experience that the sweet-smelling, velvet-skinned, adorable infant will soon grow into a busy toddler whose favorite word is “NO.” My grandchildren love to say, “I don’t want to,” when their sweet mother makes a request like picking up their toys or bringing her a diaper to change Baby Emma. A parent turns her head, and the defiant (but cute) toddler is a teenager with opinions, friends, and tastes much different from that of the parents. Teens can break a parent’s heart. Some have even been known to lash out with such statements as “I didn’t ask to be born!” Or even worse, “I hate you!” Does it take courage to have and raise a child? Absolutely!
The work aspect of love is easy to see…and hard to practice at times. Daydreaming about having children doesn’t always match reality. There’s sleep deprivation for starters, a phenomenom that begins when a child enters the world and ends…well, I’m not so sure about that one. There are still nights of insomnia when I find myself vexed or fretting about one of my children. There are always clothes to launder, fold, or press; soccer practices, dance classes, hockey games, and track meets to chaffeur; food purchasing and preparation; activities related to school including homework assistance, meeting with teachers, and actually getting children there; keeping a clean, organized, and spiritual household; and providing for the child’s temporal as well as spiritual needs. Add to this the good old fashioned need for quality time, one-on-one time with each child, and it’s no wonder that mothers are often weary and a bit overwhelmed. Motherhood is WORK.
Dr. Peck was right. Being a mother and loving a child requires both courage and work. Is motherhood worth it? You bet.