Monday, January 25, 2010

Guest Post: What It Takes

Amy (or AHP as my sister and I lovingly refer to her) used to work with my sister when they were both single and living in Northern Virginia. That's where I met her and learned that she can whistle beautifully and that she is one of the nicest people on earth. Now she's married with three beautiful children and navigating a new life in Idaho. I may have read this post on her blog and asked if I could steal it, but getting permission means it isn't stealing so we're good.

Several weeks ago we were up late with our youngest, Diddles, who had another cold. Josh turned on this Discovery Channel show called Two Weeks in Hell. It documents the selection process of the elite Army special forces unit, the Green Beret. I watched these poor men and boys withstanding physical, mental and emotional tests with each challenge and mission. As the narrator explained "what it takes," I got thinking about motherhood and what it takes.

Not to in any way demean the Green Berets and the work that they do (or any member of the armed forces), but I found myself almost empathizing with them! I could see similar requirements in things that I do day to day. Some days I am in awe of the things I'm somehow able to physically and emotionally accomplish. It's hard work being a mom sometimes! I got thinking about what the motherhood tryout would look like, and this is what I came up with.

On no more than four hours of sleep each night for at least three weeks, complete the following. You may wish for this to end after two weeks, but don't worry.
It won't!


Plan an entire week's worth of meals for a family of four, that picky children will eat, and only spend $100. Your grocery list will be taken from you upon entry to the store, forcing you to shop from memory.

Drive to an unknown location in the dark, during a snowstorm with the directions "in your head," while three children are buckled behind you whining, screaming or demanding food. It gives a whole new meaning to psychological warfare!

Make lunches for two children while they inform you that they are "starving" every five seconds and threaten to "just get whatever we want" if you don't comply. Carry on a conversation with your husband over the phone while balancing your baby in your other arm. You must also use a knife and a cheese slicer at the same time.

Carry a full basket of laundry down two flights of stairs (with a landing in between) with a baby in a front-pack. You are walking blind and building upper-body strength. A fall could maim you and injure your baby, not to mention spill your laundry!

Decode foreign languages (screaming tantrum) and execute a strategy which not only maintains your authority, but also dispels the incident. Do this in very open and public places - church, the library, grocery store, etc. No physical violence may be used on others... or on yourself.

Pick up, nurse, burp, diaper, and dress a fussy baby on demand, night after night. Do so in pitch darkness in order to gain more than four hours of sleep each night. One can hope!

Serve a peace-keeping mission each day amongst often hostile forces (who have not napped), encouraging "friendly fire," open trade, and positive communication between nations.

Colds, sicknesses and viruses will seek you out and attempt to destroy you. You must press on.

Morning sickness. It will show you no mercy.

What would be on YOUR list?


Today I was explaining to the kids that some mommies go to work and the kids go to the babysitter. This was a totally foreign concept for them. They were honestly having a hard time even processing it. Mommies going to work and not staying home with their kids? I'm grateful for the opportunity that I have to stay home with my kids and see the milestones, the smiles, the "wins." Despite the above tests, which are sometimes failed, the prize is far greater than an award, a green beret, or even a pay check. I get to see smiles on my kids' faces and know in my heart (sometimes deep in my heart) that I'm doing a "great work." "For out of small things, proceedeth that which is GREAT."


Miri said...

In the long run, I don't think anything is more difficult--or more important--than motherhood (or parenthood in general). The things you described are only part of it, and that's why it's so tough--parents are responsible for not only the physical needs of their children, but the emotional and mental needs as well. No one can expect to be a perfect parent, and you definitely can't expect to receive any medals for devoting 20 or 30 years of your life to the job, but in the end I think raising children will probably be the most important thing most people ever do.

Julie W said...

this was so funny! as a mother of 3 kids, suffering from morning sickness, and just wanting to make it to the grocery store for the first time in 3 weeks without feeling like death, I loved this!

Our greatest challenge right now is to get the grumpies out... she is looking at me, she's touching me, make her stop singing, stop breathing on me!!! ohhh...I know I am engaged in a noble cause, but cannot wait to get through this. I told my husband the other day I think I married the wrong man. He asked why, and I said, "I was meant to have a maid." Nothing is better than a supportive partner, and mine is carrying more than his share right now!