I’m grateful for the chance to be a mother. For the ease of conceiving, the health of my children, and the joy of those picture-perfect moments that occasionally come by.
I have too many friends who have been denied the chance to be a mother. Some for health reasons, others because the relationship never came to pass. They’d be wonderful, kind and compassionate mothers but their lives haven’t panned out that way.
I am all too aware of how precious this role of ‘mother’ is and how short this time will appear when I look back from my nursing home rocking chair. But this awareness makes it all the more difficult to admit that, today I really don’t like my child.
The tantrums, the scowls and glaring eyes make both my body and heart weary.
My body is tired from the wrestling to get trousers on- my back aches from the jar of legs giving way in protest, my head throbs from the screams.
But my body will heal, with a warm bath and early night all is forgotten.
It’s the state of my heart that concerns me the most.
My weary heart has turned me into a mother I never wanted to be. I just don’t have the willing to be creative. I lack the Mary Poppins charm required to turn chores into a game, instead I all too readily resort to barking orders. I’m tired. I see the Pinterest super-mummies with their “7 phrases to stop tantrums” and I despair.
My heart is weary but I’m still a good mother
I’m increasingly realising that my job as a mother is primarily to be a consistent presence. A presence that represents unconditional love and brings a reassurance of security.
My job isn’t to like my daughter or, primarily, to stop the tantrums.
I am present at the tantrums. That is enough.
I am present at the scraped knees, the first steps, the playground rejection, the harsh words impossible to take back. I am present and will keep turning up.
Recently I’ve been reading about the role of a Christian Priest is sometimes to just be the silent sign of the presence of God. To sit and drink tea with a mourning widow, speaking nothing but saying everything- Pointing towards a God who is present in our celebrating and our mourning.
The present parent
How much more is the role of a parent a silent sign? Perhaps not a sign of the presence of God but of the value God places on the child.
The parent’s continued presence says, “You are valuable enough for me to stick around.”
The presence points to a God who loves your child more than you ever could.
In a whole lot of ways this realisation has taken the pressure off my day-to-day interactions with my children. My role isn’t necessarily to fit in that Bible story to tell them how God loves them, or even to remember to tell them that myself. My role is to be present.
Today I don’t really like my child but I’ve turned up because they have a value beyond their kicking and screaming. They are a wonder of creation, worth dying for, and that’s what my presence is telling them.