Monday, June 10, 2013

Thoughts on Maternal Freedom

Over the last year, in several contexts, I have heard, read, and participated in conversations about motherhood and freedom. Among those that I would consider like-minded to myself I would often hear a passionate argument against “worldly messages” of self-fulfillment, ambition, and self-discovery. This always rankled me, but it wasn’t until recently that I was able to put my finger on why.
I agreed that motherhood was important. I agreed that to embrace the call to nurture our children with our whole hearts was vital. So why would I squirm a little every time the topic of rejecting the idea of personal freedom, free-time, free-expression in favor of motherhood came up? Because the argument is completely fallacious.
The argument that motherhood is antithetical to being free is an example of the logical fallacy of the False dilemma, or the false dichotomy. The two choices are set up in opposition to one another, when in fact they are not. I believe this lie is a construct of Lucifer himself, used to keep women from embracing a portion of their eternal, divine nature. As long as the choice is motherhood or freedom there will always be a percentage with whom maternity will lose. Likewise, as long as we perpetuate this argument amongst ourselves, a part of us (as moms) will wonder what we might be missing, and simultaneously asking ourselves, “If motherhood isn’t freedom, what is it?”
But the foundation of this argument is a lie. MOTHERHOOD IS NOT BONDAGE!!! Every morning when I wake up I chose to embrace the imperfect process of daily living, learning, working that is being a mom. Anyone who says that I am bound, entrapped, or limited by my choice to be a mom does not know me! They know nothing about the choices I have made, the life I’ve lived, or the person I am. And if we want to put a completely practical/non-religious point on it, the law allows me to divorce my husband, turn over full custody, and walk away any time I want. I choose to be called, “Mommy,” every day. But the choice doesn’t limit my other choices the way people often believe. Choosing motherhood is not synonymous with choosing imprisonment (Take a gander at Sheryl Sandberg’s book, Lean In, for a corporate perspective in this topic).
Me and one of my favorite buddies, footloose and fancy free at the zoo.
More than that though, in being a mother I am free. I am freer from selfishness, cowardice, and my own carnal nature. My children have opened up new horizons, pools of knowledge, even facets of my own character about which I would have stayed  Those internal doors that were opened with chubby, sticky fingers, would have remained closed to me. I never would have known how much was there, and how much of what was there needed to be addressed and cleared away. I am freer from my own weaknesses and preconceived notions, a better person.
ignorant without their love and influence. Even as my incredible husband’s wife, I would never have known so much about myself, and not all of it is good.
Furthermore, becoming a mother in nature and attribute (loving, kind, patient, calm in the face of chaos, hard-working, and creative) as well as in daily occupation is the realization of the potential within us, patterned after a being of such sanctity and holiness that the Lord Almighty protects her name and her image from the ravages of the world. She is as omnipotent and omniscient as He, and it is not despite her role as our spiritual mother, but through it. The source of Her power and glory is her motherhood. Is such a being bound, a prisoner of her part in the Plan of Salvation? Of course not. Then why do we so often see patterning ourselves and our lives after her as being a path to tradeoffs?  
Because too often we buy into the lie. The lie that in order to be self-actualized, fulfilled, and achieving we must turn our children over to the care of others and seek our own interests. But what happens when we align our interests with the Lord’s interest in whole and happy families? We develop a society that needs less coddling and governmental/legal interference, we create communities where “the village” can help us raise and grow our kids because we aren’t afraid to let them be among our neighbors, and we build individuals secure enough in the love and strength of family that they can learn and apply knowledge in ways that improve life for everyone. Moreover, we in turn develop the traits and talents that will allow us to pursue whatever creative, career, or personal path the Lord has in store for us. By developing our potential as mothers, we develop our potential for everything else. It is an investment in ourselves when we run through the backyard chasing bubbles. It is personal cultivation when we try new recipes with our kids in the kitchen. It is the building of our futures when we sing to, snuggle with, read to, play with our children.
 If we truly understood this about ourselves, our very natures, we would treat each other differently. We would treat our children differently. We would hold ourselves in the highest esteem even when our house is dirty, the number on the scale is higher than we want it to be, and our “to do” list is growing in undone-ness (it’s a word now, ok?!). More than this, we would stop fighting a fight that doesn’t exist.  It’s not Mom vs. freedom. Motherhood is freedom. 

6 comments:

  1. This is beautiful, and so well said. Thank you!

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  2. Exactly. Sure there are drudge moments to being a mother. But there are drudge moments in my full-time job now, too. And I sure don't get the rewards for pay that I got for free when I was raising my family.

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  3. Wonderful words, Anika!! Love it!!

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  4. Thank you, you sweet ladies. I love knowing other people "get it."

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