Wednesday, June 9, 2010

lessons from Joseph the slave

Sometimes being a mother can feel like a slave. Have you ever felt like a slave? I have. Mostly when my kids are demanding ("I said I wanted milk not WATER!"). Not to mention the amount of chores I throw down everyday--laundry, dishes, sweeping, mopping, clutter control, weed, vacuum, dust, ....this is my life.

I was thinking about this while I was hanging my laundry out to dry today (by the way, still LOVING my clothesline infinitely more than my dryer. The dryer is good for skivvies though. Don't want the whole neighborhood to see my skivvies.). My occupation doesn't get much respect. Even some who are in the same occupation as me don't have much respect for it. I know I didn't have much respect for it when I first became a mother. It's all so...thankless.

You know how before an important speaker stands to address his audience he is introduced by someone? "Dr. Impressive was valedictorian at Harvard when he got his doctorate degree. Since then he's gone on to write 32 books about how to eat completely with chopsticks for the rest of your life. In addition to writing books, and working as a lawyer 80 hours a week, Dr. Impressive also coaches a Little League baseball team AND volunteers 40 hours a week at a food bank. He is also running for President next year, AND he's preparing to go on an archaeological dig in Cairo next weekend. In his free time, Dr. Impressive likes to invent culinary masterpieces. We are all in awe just in his presence."

I've often wondered what introduction I would receive in a similar circumstance: "Erin received her associate degree in Photography, but has done nothing with it. In fact, she almost considers that degree a waste of time because she realized that her true love was English, so while pursuing a Bachelor Degree in English, she met and married Husband, and shortly thereafter, she had Dev, and then Calvin, and then Bogey. While helping her husband through school, Erin often logs in 100 hour weeks. Scraping cheerios out of the carpet, vacuuming, dusting, sweeping, mopping, laundry, changing diapers, making dinners, creating menus, grocery shopping, and doing dishes are all part of Erin's responsibilities. In her free time Erin likes to do crafts and gardening. She prides herself on the amount of gopher holes she can destroy in one hour, and she babbles to herself while she hangs up her laundry. In the coming year, Erin is hoping to find the strength to get up early enough to do some sit ups and put on some make up before the kids wake up." ooh, impressive. (Actually, I am impressed with the 100 hour work week. I just pulled out my calculator to see how my days added up to a week's

I was thinking about Joseph who was sold into Egypt as a slave. His story is so inspiring to me. Way to make lemonade out of lemons there, Joseph! Joseph was put into a position of slavery by his brothers, who hated him. But instead of throwing his wrist to his forehead and exclaiming, "Oh whoa is me!" Joseph sucked it up and got to work. He worked so well that he became head slave of all of Potipher's house. The bible says that Potipher had such trust in Joseph that he didn't even know what he had, except the food that was put in front of him. Then the story is played out again when Joseph refuses Potipher's wife, and he gets thrown in jail. Again at the bottom, Joseph sucks it up and works until he is head prisoner and the guard puts him in charge of all the other jailers. Joseph knew he was a slave, right? Where's the part where he rolls over and dies? Where's the part where he stamps his foot and shouts, "This is just soooo unfair!" My first thought was that he probably accepted that whatever happened to him was the Lord's will, so he went with it. But does someone who's just "going with it" really prosper that much just on sheer dumb luck?

I have a feeling that Joseph, who maybe didn't think this was where his life was going to go, and perhaps wanted to do other things sometimes, actually enjoyed his work--albeit hard and thankless. He goes from being subject to the decisions of others to conquering and becoming master of it.

When I became a mother, I had very different plans. I would not be one of those "typical" stay at home mothers. I would work and I would not get tied down. I would not bake, and I would not sew, and I absolutely would not drive a mini van! I was subject to all those stereotypes that told me that motherhood is slavery and that if I truly accepted it, I was giving myself a life that was less than what I could achieve. I was in bondage to that idea. As I've "served my time" I've come to realize that motherhood has nothing at all to do with subjecting myself to the whims of my family, but lifting them to higher and loftier goals. My kids are learning infinite lessons in life skills, compassion, socialization, love, service, and the Gospel, and they are learning it from me. Who would teach them if I didn't? (The answer to that question is: no one.)

It's more than that though, if I were not put into the position of mother, I would be incomplete as a person. I think back to that newly married girl who felt such a strong pull to be something "important" besides a mother, and I just shake my head at her. I feel sorry for her. As a mother, I'm a more rounded person than she ever was. There are things I've learned as a mother that I couldn't learn any other way. I am grateful that I have changed my ideals to be a stay at home mom. I would be less of a person if I didn't. The lemons in my life have given me the sweetest, most refreshing, most delicious lemonade ever imagined. If I would have known that this is what motherhood was--what God had planned for me--I would not have fought it so hard.

I am not the slave in my home, I am the Queen.

What better career is there than that?


The Hatch Family said...

Amen, and amen! You are such a good writer, and I'm loving this new blog:) Thank you for your kind words on potty training. I'm totally doing the phone call to daddy, that is perfect!

Evelyn @ Hanging by a Silver Lining said...

i have nothing fabulous to say...just that this was something i NEEDED to read. thanks erin!

Maria said...

I love reading your writing. Yes, English is your 'true love' and you are so good at it. Motherhood IS generally thankless but when a little voice says 'good breakfast mommy' it makes up for all the unnoticed 'work' we do to keep a home in order. The pure JOY that come from being a Mommy is the best kept secret you can't unlock unless you become a Mommy.

Good luck with the gophers. :)

Suzi Hardy said...

I am touched. The great thing about motherhood is that it just keeps getting sweeter. The unspoken appreciation comes as children grow and start experiencing life on their own and their "eyes are opened" to the blessing of having a mother that wanted to be there at home with them to make sure they received the kind of love only their mom can give them. As they grow they become these beautiful people and you think, "how is it that they became so beautiful hanging around me?" As you have mentioned to me often, "whom the Lord calls He qualifies." Happy is the day when you look around you and find that all your best friends, you have known since the day you conceived them. Way to go my daughter/friend.

Stephanie said...

Wow, Erin, that was truly beautiful. Such raw emotion, and honesty. And, just so you know, MOST of us mothers have felt all of the things you have described at one point or another in our job as a mom. I think I'm finally starting to "get it" a little more. There's something that changes when your 4 1/2 year-old suddenly starts having "big kid" thoughts and ideas, and while your 2 year-old tries to mimic everything his older brother does, and your 8 month-old laughs at them both. Motherhood is such a beautiful, yet challenging calling, that brings out the best, and sometimes the worst, in all of us. And, I wouldn't trade it for the world!