On Children and Grandeur
Coming from a person who never really was consumed with “baby fever”, I was interested to see how I would handle becoming a mom.
I grew up as the oldest of six, and was around little babies and children my whole life, but I have always been an independent type of person, and my personality type isn’t exactly naturally inclined towards things like play and free spirited childlike adventures.
I have always placed a sacred value on my solitude and my ability to get things done quickly and well. I love organizing and planning and creating and becoming engrossed in a difficult project. I like being around people and being swept up in the glorious hustle and bustle of a busy but fulfilling life.
So I was…not really nervous about becoming a parent and having to transition into a keeper of children and babies…but more so just keenly curious about how myself as a person would handle it and what it would look like for me.
What I have discovered is that, rather than causing my personality to stretch unnaturally into a realm of feigned childishness, becoming a parent and a teacher has complimented my inclination for order in the best possible way. These vocations have infused me with a joy and delight that no other thing could have done.
It’s not that I am no longer meticulous and principled, because those parts of me aren’t going away. But rather than being so closed in upon myself, teaching and motherhood have gently turned all of the parts of my personality outward and towards others. I have become re-oriented into a more complete human because of baby toys and snuggles and pumping parts and backpacks and laughter.
Being a mom and teacher has forced me to direct all of my talents and abilities for the flowering of others: to instill joy and wonder and virtue and an endless desire for the beautiful in little minds because I cannot think of anything else in the universe worth doing more.
It is worth quoting G.K. Chestetron at length :
“But when people begin to talk about this domestic duty as not merely difficult but trivial and dreary, I simply give up the question. For I cannot with the utmost energy of imagination conceive what they mean. When domesticity, for instance, is called drudgery, all the difficulty arises from a double meaning in the word. If drudgery only means dreadfully hard work, I admit the woman drudges in the home, as a man might drudge at the Cathedral of Amiens or drudge behind a gun at Trafalgar. But if it means that the hard work is more heavy because it is trifling, colorless and of small import to the soul, then as I say, I give it up; I do not know what the words mean. To be Queen Elizabeth within a definite area, deciding sales, banquets, labors and holidays; to be Whiteley within a certain area, providing toys, boots, sheets, cakes. and books, to be Aristotle within a certain area, teaching morals, manners, theology, and hygiene; I can understand how this might exhaust the mind, but I cannot imagine how it could narrow it. How can it be a large career to tell other people's children about the Rule of Three, and a small career to tell one's own children about the universe? How can it be broad to be the same thing to everyone, and narrow to be everything to someone? No; a woman's function is laborious, but because it is gigantic, not because it is minute. I will pity Mrs. Jones for the hugeness of her task; I will never pity her for its smallness.”
Well, that’s what teaching and motherhood is to me: hugeness. Worth every laborious, epic minute.