Projects, Pets, and Full Plates

If you are a woman with a child, don’t look for projects. You already have a project that requires all your attention and talent. You already have a built-in full-time career.

We all feel more comfy with tasks or jobs. They come with objective measures for how well the job is done.  The measures tell you when the job is completed and you can move on. These jobs are things to do which have a finishing point, about which we can feel a sense of accomplishment. Things which we can exert our power over and receive no willful resistance. Things for which we receive feedback about our performance from coworkers and superiors.

But if you have children, you have an ongoing task built into your life which calls for different methods. That person, or those people, require that you engage with them, act toward them, behave around them. They require that you constantly acquire wisdom about how to teach and guide them. You need to learn on the job.

This task is never done; it is life-long.

You will receive a lot of resistance to your work. You are struggling with an autonomous being who is your equal in will, and hasn’t yet learned to be master of himself.  He is still learning self-control, other-centeredness, and courtesy. You may have several of these beings to relate to, each different from the others.

There are only subjective and open-ended measures for your work; you can never know whether you are accomplishing your job well. Results are as permanent as sand beneath the waves. In fact, you will probably get the worst resistance and hostility when you are doing your job best.

I understand why women with children opt for careers rather than staying home full-time; in some ways it’s easier.

But I find a puzzling thing among women with and without careers.

Working women with demanding jobs and children find themselves stressed and obsessed with a third task.  It can be a ministry, a demanding pastime, or a demanding pet. The notable thing about these third tasks is that they are optional.

Women who believe that it is preferable to be full-time stay at home mothers, and even homeschool, because that lifestyle allows them to be engaged in their children’s lives…who have chosen to be the primary teachers and disciplers to their children…also find themselves engaged in a third task.  It might be a ministry, a family hobby, or just the need to be involved in the endless opportunities available to a woman who has complete prerogative over her schedule, and who has a car. With these optional tasks, these women are also adding stress and distraction to their already-full plates.

Any and all of those things will crowd out the real eternal task you have in front of you: raising your child. Loving your child takes everything you have.

Raising a child offers little reward in a material sense. Many times you will feel very alone.  You will not feel a sense of accomplishment so much as an awareness of how badly you have done the job compared to how it ought to have been done. You will not be paid or be treated to any system of job reviews. There is no system to provide you with feedback from co-workers or superiors. And you cannot quit this job, ever.

It’s relationship you are tasked with.  Building a relationship with each of the children you have is your responsibility. You are called to it the day your child is born. It’s open-ended, subjective, unpredictable, exhausting, and thankless. It’s humbling and absolutely necessary.

And please don’t mistake pet ownership for relationship. Pets are not eternal beings who will forever be influenced by the quality of your discipling. You are not answerable to Almighty God for how faithfully you lived out your calling to bend them toward a lifetime of faithfulness. Pets do not have an eternal destiny. Preferring pet training to the call of loving and shaping your child is so sad I don’t know where to go with it.

 

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