Note to pre-parents: contains spoilers.
Almost everything I heard about motherhood before I had children was either a lie or too vague to be helpful. For example, people would say (with a twinkle in their eye): "Having children will change your life." (Care to elaborate? At least tell me if you mean "change" in a good way or a bad way.) Or "Don't worry, you'll know what to do." (No, I can definitely say that I don't.)
Or my favorite (which yes, I knew had to be a stretch): The oft-repeated but completely insane notion that "mothers sit at home all day watching soap operas and eating bon-bons." The first obvious error in this sentence is the word "sit." Just about the only time I ever sit is when I trip over a toy someone left on the stairs. And the only soaps I watch are floating in the tub (or, heaven forbid, the toilet) after the boys have found our year's supply of Ivory bars.
Now, to be fair (and because my former Young Women leaders read this blog,) there were many lovingly-prepared and spiritually-delivered lessons on the joys and privileges of motherhood which I do remember but was too immature to comprehend at the time. Such lessons prompted visions of my future as a noble mother in Zion, singing and laughing (and impeccably groomed,) gently guiding my children along the rose petal-covered paths of life. And in many ways, that vision is coming true. Except that roses are too expensive nowadays, so we substitute dandelions.
One of my favorite scriptures evoking this glorious vision of motherhood is found in Proverbs chapter 31. In part, it reads:
Who can find a virtuous woman? for her price is far above rubies. The heart of her husband doth safely trust in her....
She seeketh wool, and flax, and worketh willingly with her hands....
She riseth also while it is yet night, and giveth meat to her household... (a tribute to nursing mothers!)
She considereth a field, and buyeth it: with the fruit of her hands she planteth a vineyard....
She stretcheth out her hand to the poor: yea, she reacheth forth her hands to the needy....
She openeth her mouth with wisdom; and in her tongue is the law of kindness.
She looketh well to the ways of her household, and eateth not the bread of idleness.
Her children arise up and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praiseth her.
I remember one day when I thought I'd reached that pinnacle where my child recognized the nobility of motherhood and "called me blessed." Four-year-old Jacob I were sitting together in church. I looked down at his little face which was turned upward to me with a most serious and awed expression. He gazed at me in silence for several seconds. I imagined all the inspired thoughts he must be thinking: Wow, Mom, you're really special. I'm so glad Heavenly Father sent me to you....
After a long silence, he finally spoke: "Mom?"
"Yes, dear?" (preparing to bask in the glory of appreciated motherhood)
"I can see up your nose."
And so, I patiently wait for that day, likely after the children leave home, when they will arise up and call me "kind of cool" (the modern day equivalent of "blessed," I suppose.) In the meantime, I have much wool to spin, meat to give, and vineyards to plant. And many dandelion-strewn paths to walk down with my children.In truth, the reality of motherhood is far better than the myth. Instead of bon-bons, there are gooey Lifesavers that were left in little pockets for a bit too long because "I was saving them just for you, Mommy." And instead of soap operas, there are home videos of first steps, first words, and first Christmases. As a singing, laughing, and far-from-impeccably-groomed mother in Zion, I truly am blessed, even if my children don't yet "arise up" and say so.