Friday, Mar 24, 2017
Of Grace and Sippy Cups: “Small things with great love"November 5th, 2008
By Ginny Kubitz Moyer
One evening, when my son was about six weeks old, my husband came home from work and joined me in the kitchen. “What did you do today?” he asked conversationally.
”I fed Matthew and changed his diapers,” I said. I racked my brain. “Oh, and I did laundry.”
And I realized something: my life had become excruciatingly boring.
Motherhood is many things. It’s magnificent and mysterious and meaningful. It’s also, frankly, monotonous. This is not something I fully grasped before Matthew was born. During my pregnancy, when I read that newborns can go through 12 diapers a day, I was astonished to think of the expense. It didn’t occur to me how tiresome all those diaper changes would be.
When Matthew was born, I couldn’t believe how often he wanted to eat, or how many hours I spent feeding him on the couch. Looking back, that shouldn’t have come as a surprise; after all, those 12 daily diapers have to get filled somehow.
I must clarify that before Matthew was born, I didn’t exactly lead a glamorous, adventurous life. I didn’t scale mountains or look for a cure for cancer. Normally, though, my days had included at least a few things that the average person would find interesting: a breakthrough with a student in my English classes, an idea for a new article, that sort of thing.
No more. Within weeks, I had become a nursing, baby-diapering robot who occasionally did something as dramatic as putting Dreft into a washing machine.
But it was around this time that I remembered a quote from Mother Teresa: “We can do no great things, only small things with great love.”
I realized parents have an insider’s perspective on that. After all, history books are not written about changing diapers. No one gives a prize for bathing a baby. These tasks are small, mundane, hardly enthralling - but when I scratch the surface of my boredom, I recognize that what motivates these actions is a love for my son, a love so great it frightens me.
And I’ve realized, too, that these tasks are only small to me. To my son, they’re huge, the foundation of his very existence. They’re the concrete proof that he is loved, that there is safety to be found in the big world out there.
And I’ve discovered, as moms do, that there’s a paradox to parenting. Since having Matthew, I’ve learned that a life focused on small things can also bring massive amounts of joy. When your baby rolls over, it’s like witnessing a miracle. A little giggle can stop you in your tracks. A toothless smile becomes the stuff of legend, the event you call to report to Grandma, an achievement that you record carefully in your journal. I’m enthralled by each babble and scoot
And you know what? It’s a pretty amazing way to spend a day.
No, I’ll never love changing diapers. Yes, I’ll probably always complain about the monotonous mommy tasks. But when my son smiles at me and says, “Mama,” my heart lurches with a love that, almost two years after his birth, still makes me weak in the knees.
And there’s nothing boring about that.
Ginny Kubitz Moyer is the author of “Mary and Me: Catholic Women Reflect on the Mother of God.” Contact Moyer via her blog at www.maryandme.org.
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