A Quiet Legacy

                 The youngest of three, I grew up on an acreage outside a small town in South Dakota. I had a lovely childhood where my siblings and I discovered Egyptian treasures hidden among corn fields and narrowly escaped the tomb raider enemies by pedaling our bikes through a shelter belt of trees. With nothing to fear and a world to discover, I felt a craving for adventure at a young age. In high school, I nailed down my aspirations to be a photojournalist for National Geographic. Naturally I majored in journalism my first year of college. I was soon searching for a new major after I interned for a news service at our state capital during the legislative session. During this same year, I had given my heart to the Lord and was passionately seeking to serve him through my life.  It was my dad who helped me identify that at heart, I was truly a helper.

My new major of Human Development and Family Studies could easily have led into a master’s in counseling. I loved the curriculum and my passion for family was ignited. My college career taught me I had endless opportunities for my future. I knew I would eventually get married and have kids, and I felt that leaving my career to be at home with my children was important. But motherhood stood far away, safely padded by years that I would spend realizing goals. My childhood craving for adventure was now spilling over into realistic goals. Graduate school, writing, learning new languages and living overseas were to be tackled first. After college, I lived in Brazil for three months caring for orphans and teaching low-income teens at an after-school program. I returned to the States and interned two years for a nonprofit group called the Navigators where I shared that mentors college students. I found I loved helping people more than ever. Shortly after beginning the internship, I fell in love with one of my co-workers and married him a year later. We welcomed our first daughter, Isabelle, shortly before our two-year anniversary.

                I easily slipped myself into the role of stay-at-home mom knowing that’s what I’d wanted. What I didn’t know then, was my decision would prove to be the most challenging road of my life. At the time I easily relinquished my unmet goals for our wriggling bundle of joy. Joy mixed with fear overwhelmed me as I held Isabelle in my arms.  My life would never be the same. I remember a desperate feeling as the nurse wheeled me out of the hospital. “You are just going to let me take her home?” I asked. The nurse flashed me a funny look and then laughed at what she thought was my attempt at a joke.  “I wasn’t joking!” I thought. I had no one to tell me what to do the next time she cried. No call button for help! I didn’t even have to sign a waiver of liability to take Isabelle home. The full responsibility of a human life fell into my lap that easily.

Although I had ample experience caring for babies, stepping into the reality of motherhood left me feeling scared and unprepared. There’s no retreat, and I couldn’t just hand her over to my mom and walk away. I wanted this journey and wouldn’t relinquish my responsibility to fear. The fierce love I had for my baby girl would be the motivation to do what was the bravest thing I’ve ever done, but bravery felt so far away. Never before had I felt so young, so scared. I lay on the carpet in our tiny apartment living room and wept. I prayed for God’s help, got up, and started my job as a mom.

I now have three kids aged one, three and five. My round the clock job has forced me to become a multi-tasking, energetic, and entertaining teacher. My daily goals are small, but time-consuming: feed the kids, love the kids, teach the kids, bathe the kids. My larger goals are somewhat loftier: teach them to become responsible citizens in a godless society, instill in them a strong moral belief system, ensure they feel safe and secure in my relationship with them, show them the true God and His character.

Throughout my young adult years, I felt like I needed an exciting career and great adventures to experience a satisfying life. Now as a mom with no outside career I am learning the loveliest and most fulfilling times in life are often the small things. Exploring the world through my children, spontaneous hugs, and my kids’ elated joy in little accomplishments are small but powerful experiences. I’m content to be at home and fully available to my kids. I’m leaving a quiet legacy of love and wisdom for future generations. The Lord considers motherhood a sacred role and we as believers should treat it no less. God’s command to parents is richly described in Deuteronomy 6, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts.  Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates.” This is a lifelong tasks that demands my reliance upon Christ and His strength.

My life has turned out to be quite adventurous. Our family braved a major league baseball game that started an hour before bedtime with all three kids. Not only did we make it through the whole game, we also helped our oldest overcome her fear of fireworks. My kids love adventure, too. All it takes from me is a little imagination and ingenuity to make a mundane experience exciting. Our latest adventure was an enchanted princess world made from sheets draped over chairs. Even without my masters in counseling I’m daily using my ability to help. I find great satisfaction in helping my children learn to live. What’s more is I’ve grown and matured in ways I’d never imagined. The wide-eyed, fearful mom I was has become a stronger, less selfless woman who can tackle the unexpected with God’s help. It’s a special gift to find new adventure in motherhood.