Yes, it's all there in its awkward glory of motherhood. And yet, I love it. There's nothing I'd rather be doing with my life. It is unglamorous, monotonous, cumbersome, back-breaking, and soul-breaking, but raising children is sacred work. I believe that the hardest things that we do in life will be the ones that we look back on with the greatest fondness. And raising my four little monkeys and growing a fifth has been without a doubt the most difficult thing I've ever done and likely ever will do in my life. But this is my life's work. They are my life's work. Yesterday afternoon, as I sat next to my first grader and helped him through his reading, I felt a surge of gratitude for the grace of God in allowing me to be home at that moment, to listen to him conquer his first four-syllable word. I felt it last week as I helped my boys scour their room to find odds and ends for their "Wacky Wednesday" costumes for school. I felt it when I french braided my 4-year-old's hair, and she told me I had just made her look as beautiful as a princess.
I've noticed from working at the nursing home that life and the things we hold dearest to our hearts have an interesting way of unraveling themselves in the twilight of a person's life. I'm amazed at how often the dear, sweet people I care for — many of whom have little to no awareness of their circumstances or surroundings, or even the name of their spouse — often fall asleep calling out for "mother." The role and influence of a mother is never diminished, even when the faculties of the mind and body are gone.
The frumpy mother is a myth — a creature of unkindly propagated legend, often created in our own minds. In the eyes and heart of the child who a mother is nurturing, there is no such a thing. I've started making it a point to tell people who raise their eyebrows at my "underused degree" or "unemployment" how privileged I feel to be able to do the most honorable work available to women. I tell them how thankful I am that I married a man who honors women who bear the grunt work of humanity and who thanks me daily for doing so.
Thanks be to God for the women who labor in the workforce who make this world a better and kinder place. But thanks also be to God for the women who work on the homefront, often who carry out their life's work behind a veil of anonymity.
Rita Merrick was raised moving around Latin America as the daughter of a foreign service diplomat and currently lives in Nampa, Idaho. She is happily married to a small-town Idaho farm boy and is the mother of four beautiful children. She is a registered nurse who enjoys photography and being outdoors.
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