Fulfillment and faith

Motherhood is near to divinity. It is the highest, holiest service to be assumed by mankind.

—J. Reuben Clark

To me, it’s very difficult to talk about, think about or learn about personal fulfillment in motherhood or any other aspect of life without touching on my faith. Most of the time, I try not to mention this aspect of fulfillment because I want all mothers to be able to find personal fulfillment regardless of their beliefs.

But I would be remiss if I neglected to mention faith as it plays a very large role in my life and my world view. I promise I won’t always do this, but I will probably mention my faith from time to time in contemplation of fulfillment.

As a Christian, I have always been taught to hope for a better world. And while I do believe that there is an eternal reward awaiting the righteous, I also know that we are here on Earth that we might have joy. Our joy in our eternal reward would never be complete without the things that we must (and can only) accomplish in this life—such as having children.

When I was a teenager, I knew that families were essential for our eternal reward, but at the time I often thought that we were put in families to become better people by ‘overcoming’ our upbringing—and our family members. (I was a snotty teenager sometimes.) I have since learned that we’re placed in families to become better people through them and with them—and our eternal reward would not be heavenly without them.

I have also been taught that motherhood is an exalting and ennobling life. It’s the highest embodiment of womanhood. I believe that, and I can quote lots of wise men and women saying beautiful, inspiring things about that, but when it’s getting toward the third hour in a row of my son’s whining and screaming and I can’t find anything to please him, when the last week’s worth of laundry and mail is strewn across my couches and Hayden’s toys littered throughout the house, when I haven’t gotten dressed in two days or showered in I don’t know how long, it’s hard to feel exalted and noble.

Fortunately, the same people who know that motherhood is exalting and ennobling also know that it’s far from easy. Somehow, I didn’t get this memo before arriving home from the hospital. I’m not sure how or when I missed that, but I was floored to discover how difficult and daunting motherhood was nearly every day.

When my son was about a week and a half old, I asked my mother in desperation: “Why is it so hard?”

“So we will love them more,” she told me.

You love those whom you serve, and I will probably never serve anyone the way I serve my family. By building that love through a lifetime of service, I hope that I’ll want to be with my husband and children forever—and I pray they’ll want to be with me.

But I think there’s another reason why motherhood is so hard. In a day when motherhood is being assaulted and devalued on all sides, perhaps the difficulty of mothering is the only way we can be reminded that it’s worth it. Sometimes that difficulty can make is hard to remember, but I seldom find the things that are truly worthwhile to be easy (and vice versa).

And as a Christian, I am reminded that while motherhood is the hardest thing I’ve ever done, His burden is easy and His yoke is light. Perhaps the last reason why motherhood is so hard for me sometimes is because I seem to forget so easily that I don’t have to do it all by myself, for myself and through myself.

Sometimes the only way I can feel fulfillment is to know that God loves me—and Hayden—and that it is truly His will that I be Hayden’s mother today. Submitting my will to His will be my life’s work—and, knowing me, I doubt that it will ever be easy.

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