This Mother’s Work

In a recent blog post entitled A Mother’s Work over at The Bully Pulpit, the author quotes C. S. Lewis’s observations about mothering. I’ll let you click on the link above to read the entire quote, but the nugget for me is at the end:  “… the job of motherhood is the one for which all others exist.”

Wow. I think about Lewis’s own experience (having lost his mother when he was still a young boy) and I’m struck that the man knew firsthand the significance of his loss. How I respect his point of view! Others of course have echoed his statement.

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As long as I can remember, I knew my highest ambition in life was to be a mother. I’ve been fortunate to have my mother’s sweet fellowship even now, though she doesn’t live as close as I’d like. (I know I’m blessed that she’s still with us!)

One memory from childhood has stuck with me, has in fact guided the way in which I ordered my life as a young wife and mother. I might have been in sixth or seventh grade at the time, and I had just been dropped at the corner of our street by the school bus. Walking up the street, I knew each step I took brought me closer to our home − last one on the left on a dead end street. I remember specifically feeling sincerely thankful because I had assurance I’d see my mother’s face on the other side of our front door.

I don’t remember needing comfort or counsel or being in any kind of agitated state. I simply appreciated the fact my mom would be there and I anticipated having her undivided, loving attention (if only briefly since I had both older and younger siblings).

This was in the days when homemakers were moving out of the home and entering the workplace. I knew that, but I was so grateful (and continue to be today) that my mom stayed and worked in our home. That day, I made a mental commitment that I would be a stay-at-home mom for my future children.

[Now please don’t misconstrue my comments. I’m not antagonistic to women who work outside their homes. I respect their ability to juggle multiple jobs and schedules.]

For me, however, my personal neediness convinced me how important it was for Mom to be there when I came home after school … and I wanted to replicate that environment in my adult life. Because I made that commitment (to my yet unborn children), I knew I needed the support of a similarly-committed husband. (Reminds me of a contentious online and on-air discussion that has brutally tarred and feathered author Suzanne Venker.) I wouldn’t have married someone who wouldn’t have supported my stay-at-home commitment to our children … and I didn’t. I had thought things through beforehand, and that was my choice.

As a mom to four grown offspring, I acknowledge being a mom wasn’t an easy task … but the rewards all along the way were more than I could have imagined! The free verse shown below was written when I was quite young and the mother of one. I thought I was pretty well-prepared to be a mom … until I was, and then I realized how much on-the-job training is actually involved! This is a simple poem, heartfelt and emblematic of the joy and terror I experienced in those early days, almost forty years ago.

First-Born, first baby, mothering, first child, learning to be a mom, free verse, light verse, poetry, poem

Poem: First Born

Renée