Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Measuring up and motherhood

A Honda Pilot whipped past my little car this morning, which was full to the brim with two children (one asleep, the other repeatedly saying, “Why? Why? Where is it?” regarding the moon no longer being visible) and a whole bunch of groceries. I was saying my car rosary, meditating on Christ carrying his cross.

The driver flew past, a young guy. He had various stickers on his car—a brewery, different parks/states/countries, and one of those "26.2" stickers.

My last marathon was “end of pregnancy debilitating pelvic pain” (which would not fit on a sticker). And I've been lots of places since motherhood began: OBGYN waiting room, WinCo Foods in suburbia, and... let me think. Cross-country U-Haul trip with six-month-old. That was my last adventure. It went really well.

There's not much measurable about motherhood. I was (sort of still am) a box-checker. I've seen the pyramids from atop a camel. Check. I've lived in Africa. Check. Been to the Vatican, Taj Mahal, and Louvre. Check, check, check.

When I first quit my job to stay home, I was startled by the way time suddenly stopped, crawling along at this slow, dripping, drooling pace. You're busy, but nothing is ever “done.” You have a tyrannical boss, but no one appreciates how you deal with him/her/them. Your end-of-day summation consists of a list like this: one load colors, one load whites, trash and recycling, cooking and dishes, and the children are alive. Plus, I paid two bills online.

And I'm exhausted.

And I want more children.

So I'm basically an extreme sport adrenaline junky. I'm the tattooed kid in the Honda Pilot screeching through yellow lights. The box-checker thinking, “Okay, he's had the grapes, now cut up some cheese for him while I get her settled in with stirring the dinner-prep, and by the time she's done he'll be ready to go to bed, and then...” Just moving from one thing to the next, always changing, never the same. There's just no way to capture it on a sticker and slap it on a bumper.

Motherhood defies all the measurables; it takes you completely out of the game in a sense. You announce a new baby on the way, and when that baby is born. You grow in virtues and stamina, you learn what patience is. But you don't send out a Christmas card updating friends on the content of your most recent confession, or the struggles you've faced managing a child.

You always reap what you sow, more than you sow, and much later than you sow.

My measurables still won't be easy to explain, but hopefully in a couple decades the difference in my list and the culture's list will be apparent. My passport might get a bit dusty while I'm doing it, but I'm crossing all kinds of boundaries—even if the scenery isn't all that exotic.