After a particularly long day and a stop-and-go fight with Friday afternoon traffic, Kevin asked, as I was wiping Monica's rear, "Do you ever ask yourself, 'Is this really what I do all day? Clean up other people's poop?'"
I didn't even look up as I said in a rather testy voice, "No. It's just what I do." After some reflection, I realized that I should have said, "Nope. I ask myself: "Is this really what I do all day? Clean up other people's poop, pee, spit up, and drool?" He left out a few things...
There are periods of time when I really struggle with the physical, 24/7 mothering required for two very wee ones. It's easy to lose sight of the goal when the days are filled with seemingly endless messy tasks. While at the park a few days ago, Monica stumbled to the ground and my first thought was not for her welfare, but frustration that once again, I'd have another grass stain to pretreat before doing laundry for the fourth time in two days. My conscience kicked in just then, and I realized how sad it was that I was more concerned about a pair of hand-me-down leggings than my daughter's tears.
The grass stain frustration caused me to examine my thoughts and attitudes toward my children and mothering over the following days. I realized that I was very focused on the seemingly endless "busy nothings" of the day--cleaning, cooking, nursing, and wiping noses, mouths and rears. I had lost sight of the whole point of the endless tasks, the point that makes the endless tasks so much more than "nothing." Mothering small children is anything but glamorous. It is exhausting, dirty, and often frustrating. But there is nothing like a baby kiss or a two year old looking up at you after you wipe their poopy self and saying "I wuv oo Mama." And even deeper than the affection is the fact that these small acts of love are building the foundation for a life of love and relationship. The family is the first place that James and Monica will learn what true love is. Love that forgets itself and looks toward God and other first.
I came across this meditation by Venerable Elisabeth Leseur, which really summed up my prayers and thoughts:
We pray, suffer, and labor in ignorance of the consequence of our acts and prayers. God makes them serve his supreme plan; gradually they take their effect, winning one soul, then another. They hasten the coming of the kingdom of God and by the other beings, acts, and desires they give birth to, they will exert an influence that will endure until the end of time.
Elisabeth was childless, but I think this insight is like gold for mothers looking to love their children and share God's love with them, especially in the midst of daily monotony. Wiping bottoms with a smile may not be pleasant, but it has the potential to plant a seed of generosity and true charity that will last for eternity.