With all 3 of my children sick, today is just overflowing with goop. Within the last ten minutes, I have wiped up poop, had my hair slime-sneezed in, held a child as she vomited on my shirt, and cleaned up a lake of pee from the bathroom floor. When it rains, it pours.
It’s moments like these that sometimes make me question motherhood. Am I wasting my life away wiping up bodily fluids? I mean, anyone could do the mommy stuff that fills my day, right? What if I have it wrong? What if the career-pursuing moms have it right? Why not put my kids in childcare and do something meaningful with my life?
So, of course, as a good Christian, I turn to prayer… And by that I really mean that I stubbornly refuse to speak to the Lord about my heart. Instead, I grumble and gripe to myself as I throw a load of laundry in, then sit down with coffee and a smartphone for a momentary escape into the mindlessness of facebook.
Isnt it funny how when you refuse to go to God for the dose of His wisdom that you desperately need, He still throws it at your head from across the room? Scrolling down my newsfeed I saw a prolife meme that said “It’s all about the dignity of the human person.”
Whack. There it is. I put my phone down and looked at the three little people around me.
It’s all about the dignity of the human person
If it’s just about taking care of their physical needs, then sure, anyone could do it. It could be batch tasked, farmed out.
But it’s not just about doing the things. It’s about how they’re done.
Years ago, I had this big dream. I wanted to be an architect and work to develop housing solutions for the world’s poor. I wanted to help the underprivileged, to show the marginalized that they mattered. That they were worth caring about. That I saw their human dignity even as they sat on their dirt floor. God sent my life in a different direction and the architecture degree was never finished, but that doesn’t mean the mission has changed.
Because seriously, being a child is often far from dignified (same with being elderly, for that matter). A child can’t care for themselves, can’t feed themselves, can’t clean themselves. They can’t express their higher thoughts. In fact, most of the things society values in humans, independance, usefulness, cleanliness, cooperation, politeness, are completely absent in childhood! One of the biggest roles of a mother in the baby years is seeing our child’s inner human dignity through the constant moments of external indignity (read “gross and annoying stuff”). We see that value, and reflect it back to them, through our expression, voice, words and actions. So that our child learns, DEEP DOWN, that there is a God-Given dignity about them, that cannot be taken away or diminished.
When we laugh and sing as we clean poop from between the baby’s toes. When we kiss the child’s nose after every time we wipe goop off it. When we don’t recoil in disgust, but lovingly hold our child as she vomits in our hair, because she needs us now, and hair is washable. What we are building up is a sense of self esteem, a sense in our child that his worth is not reliant on the external dignity of his conditions.
Motherhood is not about the pee, poo, vomit and snot. It’s about these tiny, precious people. These people whose sum is so much more than the gross things tiny bodies are apt to do. The value in each one of them is beyond measure.
More than a wiper of noses, I am a guardian of dignity.
And I wouldn’t want my child to have to vomit on anyone else.