Cherish. A word that speaks of highly valued treasure. A mother-colleague spoke today of her family and made reference to the fact that her three teen-aged children knew they were cherished. That they felt cherished by her and her husband. And we talked about the significance of this fact to our children’s lives. Mine included. When children know they are cherished, they believe that they have great worth, rare value and are held in tremendous high esteem. And I wondered. How cherished do my four feel today? What have I done as a mother to cherish them?
More often than not, I resent the work that comes with motherhood. I balk at the thoughts of running hither, thither and yon for all the extra-curricular events that my children participate in, and I find it a chore to feed, bath and practice piano with four tired kiddos each and every night. I am certainly aware that I do not cherish every little second of motherhood. But I don’t want that negativity toward the work of mothering to take away from the act of cherishing my children.
To cherish is to take pleasure in, to place a high importance to, to enjoy. Indeed, to find joy in. Do I find joy in my children?
This past Sunday was a rough day. I was really ready to throw in the towel. I would have quit if I could have. Honestly. I was tired, done in, frustrated, annoyed, down, discouraged and bent out of shape. And the issue being: behaviors I was seeing in my children that were less than pleasurable. But are feelings determinate of what we value? For value is found in what we are willing to pay a high price for, regardless of the hefty price tag or the sacrifices made to obtain. Value is found in what we prioritize as important.
Obviously, I did not throw the towel in Sunday. I’m still standing. Soldiering on. Putting one step in front of the other. And I can’t help but be reminded: being a mother is a lot like being a soldier. We are on the front lines each and every day fighting for our children, our families, our homes, our marriages. Our sanity. And we do so because of what we value. What we cherish. We cherish and love our children even though we don’t always like the behaviours they exhibit. Soldiers are perhaps not great fans of putting their lives on the line either, knowing they might die at any wrong turn, but they do it because of what they value. Freedom. Democracy. Rights. Choice.
What you value says a great deal about what you cherish.
Being a mother is hard. Actually, being a person is hard. I was thinking tonight, while washing dishes up at the sink, that there are too many hard personas a person can become to make mention of them all. Being a teacher is hard. Being a minister is hard. Working a salaried 9-5 job is hard. Being a leader is hard. Being a follower is hard. All these hats that a person can wear. They can all be summed up in one idea: that is, being human is hard. Life was never promised to be easy. But in spite of the difficulties, we can find ways to cherish and hold close all that is near and dear to our hearts. And to paraphrase the words of the Psalmist, ‘we will not offer anything (on our life’s altar) that costs us nothing’ . Being a mother costs a woman a great deal if she is willing to be the kind of mama that lives up to the stereotypes. Even up to some of the stereotypes. But we must all make sacrifices, and in so doing we must also find joy sandwiched in between the hard choices that we make. The balance found between joyful sacrifice and enjoying pleasure is what allows us to cherish each and every day we are given breath. Even when those breaths are ragged and heavy. Even when each breath itself is enough to do you in. We just breathe anyway. And with each breath we choose to take, we allow ourselves the pleasure of cherishing those little blessings in our life. They are the joy that hold us.