My Reason for Mothering
by Becky Watson
The question pounded violently in my brain. My dear friend was struggling with her (precociously adorable) two-year-old daughter. Hers was a difficult pregnancy, followed by a nightmarish delivery, and a solid year of screaming colic and no sleep.
And now – the joys of toddlerhood.
We were texting back and forth – her, venting over the latest emotional showdown; me, trying to offer reassurance and comfort. Parenting just wasn’t what she thought it would be.
I found myself asking her WHY. Why did she have a child in the first place? Is it to have someone to love? A dog is infinitely more loyal and will never scream, “I hate you!” after we ask him to eat all of his dog food. Do we have children so that someone will take care of us when we’re old? I’m sure it would be much cheaper to just save up for a good nursing home. Is it simply because we’re bored, and need something to do? There’s got to be a less frustrating hobby out there. One that doesn’t involve bodily fluids.
I’m convinced that many people become parents for just such the reasons above – and are inevitably disappointed when the difficulties of parenting start with the first inconsolable wail of a newborn.
So what made me decide to be a mother? SIX TIMES, no less. Am I just verifiably insane? It’s debatable, but probably not my main influence.
The answer became crystal clear when I took the matter to the Lord: “To be like me,” He whispered.
He is the perfect parent. As Latter-day Saints, we believe in the scripture “Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect” (Matthew 5:48) If we hope to be like Him, our children will show us how. Where else can we learn to love so completely, so deeply? We treasure our children unconditionally – in spite of toothpaste on the walls, melted crayons in the dryer, last minute science projects, hormonal teenagers, and more. Our children exasperate us, frustrate us, test our patience to the very limit. And yet we love them. Much as He loves us – despite our never-ending flaws.
Our Father is love unfeigned. He is patient. He is forgiving. He is kind. Aren’t those the characteristics we all strive for as parents?
So the next time parenting hands me another test (so – in approximately five minutes after I finish this essay) I can simply tell myself that this is one more teeny step to becoming like Him.
It’s a good thing He’s helping me every limping foot at a time.