Skip to comments.Momnipotent (for the forum "Moms")
Posted on 10/03/2010 1:17:29 PM PDT by NYer
"Look at me!" I announced to my bleary-eyed husband when he emerged from the bedroom one morning soon after our second child was born. Carefully, I shifted tiny Eamon in the crook of one arm as I scrambled eggs, buttered toast, and poured juice with my free hand. "I can nurse the baby and cook breakfast at the same time!"
I was such a fool.
What I didn't know is that it's not long after a young mother makes her first heroic efforts in the face of parental adversity that family members stop applauding her clever resourcefulness and just plain expect it.
By the time Eamon was one year old, he could turn cartwheels and scale the curtains, but he still expected that I would pick him up whenever he demanded. Which was all of the time. My first clumsy, one-handed scrambled eggs faded into memory as I became proficient at weeding the garden, cleaning the bathroom, and changing my clothes without ever once putting down the baby in my arms.
Eventually, I wound up at my doctor's office complaining of back ache, occasional numbness, and sharp pains in my legs. He suggested I might have pinched a nerve and asked if I had been doing any heavy lifting.
"I carry a 20-pound baby all day long," I told him.
He didn't get it. Reluctant to diagnose me with an acute case of motherhood, he wrote "sciatica" on my chart and sent me home with a dose of ibuprofen and a photocopied list of back-strengthening exercises.
Today, 14-year-old Eamon walks quite surely on his own two feet, but his younger brothers and sisters have claimed their rightful places in my arms, each in his own turn. These days, Daniel especially clings to me like a tiny monkey. "I want you," he says, and I can't resist being so needed.
I know that I am not alone. The other day, I noticed a woman in the parking lot of the grocery store. She had her pocket book, two bags of groceries, and an infant car seat hanging from one arm and a kicking three-year-old in the other as she struggled (I think with a third arm) to unlock her minivan. When I offered to help, she observed the flock of children hanging from my various limbs and smiled.
"I'll manage," she answered.
In our brief exchange, I recognized a level of appreciation and mutual understanding that mothers can only get from other mothers.
It's sad but true. A valiant mother who slithers on her belly to extract a child's sneaker from the dust-bunny farm deep beneath the living room couch probably won't emerge to rounds of applause. In fact, her efforts are likely to be greeted with, "I wanted to wear sandals. And could you take another look under there for my G.I. Joe's ammunition belt?"
After one of my son's recent birthday parties, my mom sent me some pictures of the day. One of them in particular stood out -- not because it was unusual, but because it was so typical. It was a shot of the grinning birthday boy with his cake . . . presented to him by nameless hands. I have dozens of these. And the hands are always mine.
I used to wonder at the way some mothers seemed content to give themselves over completely to the lifelong service of others. My own mother especially. Maternal generosity amazed me and I didn't suppose I could ever forget my selfish self long enough to accomplish such a thing.
But then God made me a mother.
While I have not become perfectly selfless, the preciousness of my children in my own eyes has made me realize that it's not half so bad to play a supporting role. To be the giver. The organizer. The behind-the-scenes, unseen and unrecognized do-er and supporter.
I like to think there is power in my hidden "momnipotence."
Mothers are the secret silent force behind birthday cakes and neatly folded piles of laundry that magically appear in dresser drawers. We can get a cranky two-year-old to take a nap and think it was his idea. We can turn a pound of hamburger, a box of pasta, and a can of soup into "company dinner" at a moment's notice. We kiss boo-boos better, mop up spills, and whip up peanut butter and jellies, all with a smile on our face and a toddler on our hip.
I am still not as naturally selfless and generous as I ought to be, but I do relish my quiet role. Most days, I am content to watch the people -- the real, autonomous, and fascinating people -- my children are becoming. I don't expect any non-mother to understand it, but I am happy to be the unnamed force behind the full bellies and clean laundry that support them along their way. I am pleased to be the hands that support them, on their birthdays and every day.
Right here, in this hidden place, is where God put me. And it's a privileged place to be.
Well, she’s several light-years ahead of me. If I had a talking parrot, it would shrill, “Why am I the only one in this family who can (fill in activity)?!?” *drink*
I thank God every day for my mother.
I’ve got an awesome one.
So have I!
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I read a wonderful book 15yrs ago called Woman to Woman (Catholic).
I just found it buried in a closet I decided to reorganize/clean.
I would highly suggest it for younger Moms.
Really puts the truth as God intended about being a woman/mom the real liberation of woman not the Cosmopolitan lie that was sold to secular woman.
As an old mom, I can look back and realize with terrifying accuracy how important a mother’s influence is on her children.
With as much bumbling and stumbling as I did, it was God who managed to run enough interference to keep me from completely messing them up!
So do my children!
I wonder how the author addresses the problem that doing everything for people means you generally end up with people who can’t and/or won’t do anything for themselves. I mean, I would do everything for my family, just to avoid conflict ... but I believe I have an obligation to turn functional adults loose on society, not incompetent drones.
Spiritually, doing everything for them is just as damaging as not doing enough.
It’s not really that fine a line as to the day-to-day realities of clothes washing and cleanig up. The finer points I think are when an older child needs help and you know that you could immediately relieve the distress, but the child would never learn to handle the crisis himself.
That’s where the pain comes into parents’ hearts like daggers: when to step back and watch and when to step in and help.
I forgot to add that praying the Rosary helps immensely, but then again, we all knew that.
My “whine time” with Father does get intense sometimes.
I know about that!
Humorous, yet true. Moms are only appreciated for many things taken for granted when the child has children of his/her own.
Her tale reminds me of the books by Erma Bombeck.
I do also. I am the oldest now of only six children...originally it was nine.
This woman was caring for two children. Her “bleary eyed” husband should have gotten his behind out of bed and made breakfast.
Yes,God made some of us mothers,I don’t believe that means we are supposed to be masochists. The men need to understand that the women work as hard and even longer hours than they do sometimes and help out.
When my children were small,I got up usually at five am. That included the time my youngest was a baby and woke up at around 2 am for feeding.
Then I had to work all day from that time until after 9pm to get everything done that was needed. My (former) husband got up a couple of hours later,ate the breakfast I had cooked,took the lunch I had prepared and packed and went to work,came home around 4:30 pm,sat around until supper was ready,ate and then watched tv while I did all of the clean up and child care.
By the way,we lived in a third floor apartment with no central heat,no clothes dryer,no dishwasher and I didn’t have access to a car during the day.
My (former) husband insisted that I get a job when my youngest was around nine months old. I still had to do just about everything I did before,even though I was working 6 1/2 hours a day outside the home,not including travel time.
Piles of laundry magically appear in dresser drawers? That doesn’t ever happen around here!!
No, not here, either. The piles of laundry appear on people’s bedroom floors, along with a reminder that the laundress isn’t making any meals until the clothes are put away.
As a "mature" woman and grandma to many.. I just want to add the years go too quickly by, and we miss being so needed :)
When I see a young mom looking horrified at her toddlers temper tantrum in public, I always smile and tell her that all moms have had this happen, and I give them permission to have a tantrum too