Friday, September 02, 2011

Motherhood=Adventure

That's what the bracelet says that I purposefully put on my arm this morning.  (I got it and a couple others from Above Rubies.)  I put it on this morning to remind myself.  And what caused this need?  Well, this morning when A.was looking at her new gerbils, she shrieked and I immediately thought something was dead.  But it turned out to be just the opposite.  Instead of one less gerbil, there were more than the expected two.  Yes, it turns out that A. unknowingly bought one (or two, we're still not sure) pregnant gerbils.  There has been a flurry of excitement over all of it.

Looking at the whole thing as an adventure helps to keep a smile on my face and my stress levels low.  Because motherhood really is an adventure, isn't it?  Miriam-Webster defines adventure this way:

1. a : an undertaking usually involving danger and unknown risks b : the encountering of risks
2: an exciting or remarkable experience
3: an enterprise involving financial risk

We often think of risks as physical... mountain climbing, white-water rafting, bungee jumping, etc.  But having children usually involves risk of a different sort... emotional.  When you are a mother, you realize that you love these small people more than you ever could have imagined.  It is the type of love that if anything were to ever happen to one of them, you realize that your heart would be torn out of your body.  By being a mother, we take on that risk.  Looking at the other two definitions, it's easy to see how they apply.  Motherhood is certainly a remarkable experience, and anyone who has bought shoes for multiple children or fed boys in their teens knows that finances are involved.

Why don't we equate motherhood with adventure more often?  Motherhood is far more likely to be associated with the mundane and tiring:  changing diapers, up with sleepless babies and children, cleaning up (or arguing with the children to clean up), carpools, and laundry.  That list doesn't sound adventurous, does it?  When we focus on these aspects of mothering, we loose sight of the bigger picture and the joys that come with it.  That is easy to do when we live in a society that extols adventure and is constantly feeding us pictures of what that adventure should look like all the while rubbing in what we are missing.  And like most things, it requires novelty to keep it fresh.  If something has been done before, it doesn't really count as truly adventurous.  The ante must be upped each time.  By this way of thinking, motherhood doesn't even come close to making the cut.

We need to change our image of adventure and our self-perception of who we are as mothers.  As a mother I have done things that I never thought I would or even imagined.  And because our hearts are so tied up in what we do, we realize that jumping out of an airplane is nothing compared with the strength of nerve required to send your newborn into surgery.  A triathlon is a brief effort when you are looking at months of holding a screaming, raging child.  Exotic travel pales when you are watching your toddler explore the backyard which is just as new to her as Tibet would be to you.  And who needs a safari to see wild animals when you have bees in your backyard and baby gerbils in your daughters' room?

2 comments:

Chiska said...

Thanks for this lovely post. I really needed it today.

Anonymous said...

Love it!
Kim C.

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