A few of my Facebook friends posted a link to a post by a woman who said she looks down on young mothers. She thought that she was much better off making a name for herself in her career. She felt like mothers who say it is hard to be a homemaker are making it up. There was more, but I skimmed.
It made me angry for a bunch of reasons. I have done hard things in my life, but being a full-time mother and wife and homemaker definitely is the hardest thing I've ever done. The article mentions housework and laundry---and there is a lot of it. But it's not about the laundry---that's not the hard part. It's about people. I'm slowly building people every day, and there is no instruction manual. There is no time off. There is no way of ever feeling like you are ever doing enough. There is no paycheck or yearly bonus or raise to say you are on the right track. It is hard!
I loved having a career. I loved going to work every day---to put on nice clothes and jewelry and new(ish) shoes and to go somewhere abounding with adults. How nice it would be to have lunch with friends or [gasp!] alone. BUT having a career, especially one with aspirations of moving up the cooperate ladder, is only about YOU. Sure, your assignments may be challenging, your coworkers may be trying, your boss may even be unforgiving---but in the end you keep going, not for the good of anything else but YOU and the advancement of YOU. The article mentions getting a promotion, landing a dream job or backpacking through Asia. All about YOU. How easy to live in a world that is all about you. So really, I think she's the one lying about saying it's hard. What's so hard about living only for yourself?
I was thinking about this over lunch. I was angry that she would say what she said. I put the plates away, cleaned up the cooking mess, and went to clean Grayson up. Every day after lunch I wash his hands with a baby wipe. He loves it. He loves to be clean and crumb-free. He held out his hand, and I held it in mine.
"Washy hands, washy hands" I sing. But this time I really look at his hands. So small, so squishy, and so full of baby fat to the point that they almost burst. His knuckle dimples are still perfectly there at 18 months, but the once-tight roll around his wrist is loosening as he grows and thins with age. As I wash them, I tell him about his hands. How many good things they will do. How they will hold a pencil in kindergarten; how they will figure algebra equations in high school; how I hope they will type his life stories of adventures and faith; how they will one day wash the hands of a baby all his own. How lucky he will be if he gets to do that!
And suddenly, I am just sad for the woman who feels sorry for me. Sad that she will never wash the hands that pat her cheeks or [as gently as possible] stroke her hair; hands that clasp so tightly at the back of her neck that somehow it feels her heart could burst. Sad that she won't cherish pictures drawn by tiny hands. Sad that her fridge won't be adorned by carefully formed pre-school letters that spell only "M-O-M" but mean everything. Sad that she won't hear a one-year-old say the happiest words he knows, "Mom-Mom." Because it's not about me, even though I am his world, it's about him. And that is better than all of the paychecks, all of the lunches out, all of the ladder-climbing and glory-chasing. There is never an end to that. But Grayson, this boy---these hands---they are more than enough.