Today I saw a video about motherhood.
You know the kind, a collection of video clips of mothers in their most loving moments with their children while touching words scroll across the screen, declaring mothers to be everything from teachers to therapists to creators of Heaven on Earth.
A few years ago, such a movie would have brought all kinds of tender feelings to the surface within me
and I would have rejoiced in the beauty of motherhood
and gone to my children to happily play with play-dough with the peaceful understanding that I am changing the world.
The biggest challenge for me in having many children
is feeling like the day-to-day needs of survival are so many and so constant that I am no longer able to give them much meaningful time and interaction.
And so, now I watch such movies with some guilt, some longing, and a lot of frustration.
"Teacher? Therapist? Creator of Heaven on Earth?
More like Laundry Folder, Dish Washer, and Kleenex Alternative."
Tonight I lay on the floor in the darkness of the baby's room, those thoughts racing around in my brain.
"I could really be replaced by a machine," I thought cynically. "I am so busy with administrative responsibilities that the moments of real, lasting value have been largely ripped away."
And so I prayed.
It wasn't flowery or eloquent--more like:
"Help me, Father, to either know what I need to change in my mothering or to recognize things I have done today that could not have been done by a machine."
And as I lay in the darkness, the questions started coming.
"Could a machine have hugged and comforted a sobbing child this morning when he was so disappointed?"
"Could a machine have cuddled a sick boy and read him stories?"
"Could a machine have gushed over report cards and complimented good penmanship?"
"Could a machine have held a feverish baby in its arms until he slept and then continued holding him through his nap, wanting to provide constant comfort to him in his hour of need while simultaneously rejoicing in the opportunity to hold him close for an extended period of time?"
"Could a machine have calmed a tantrum and helped a child see a better way to resolve their problem?"
"Could a machine have reminded little boys about their divine nature and infinite worth and how nothing anyone else says or does can change that when they expressed frustration over a book that states that 'boys are ignorant?'"
"Could a machine have provided comfort to a baby who would not sleep simply by resting a hand on his back, making him aware of its presence?"
"And could a machine have performed the duties of the day while fighting its own sicknesses and pains, thereby learning selflessness and sacrifice and progressing toward a holier state?"
As I've studied the New Testament this year, I have been struck by how many of the Savior's great teachings and miracles were performed "on the way" to do something else.
It has become a mantra of sorts for me, as a mother...powerful things happen "on the way."
As my sister once told me, "We can't schedule our children's most important moments."
So I may not measure up to every touching video about motherhood,
but I am here.
I am here to love, to comfort, to teach, to wipe away tears, to encourage, and to cheer on,
and to do most of those things "on the way."