One of my favorite passages from Les Miserables describes Cosette as she wistfully observes the activities of a young family and dreams of her love, Marius:
The mother was there, opening her wings like a fan over her brood; the father flew about, went away, then returned, bringing food and kisses in his break. The rising day gilded this happy thing, the great law Multiply was there, smiling and august, and this sweet mystery was blossoming in the glory of the morning. Cosette, her hair in the sunshine, her soul in fantasy, made luminous by inner love and the outer dawn, leaned out unconsciously, and, almost without daring to acknowledge to herself that she was thinking of Marius at the same time, began to look at these birds, this family, this male and this female, this mother and these little ones, withthe deep restlessness which a nest gives to a young girl.I love the way Victor Hugo speaks of the "great law Multiply." What an interesting way to describe that longing, that nurturing instinct, that desire to procreate and mother!
The church we attended when I was younger used to have a fall festival every year, and one year (I was about 5 or 6?) the costume theme was "what you want to be when you grow up." The other girls there had an assortment of costumes; my memory fails me with details, but I'm sure there were ballerinas, teachers, scientists, actresses, princesses, etc. present. I do remember that my sister was a nurse, and a very cute one, I might add :). I dressed as an expectant mother. My mom let me wear one of her shirts for "growth" ;), and she used a marker to draw an arrow and the word "baby" down to my protruding belly.
To me, the costume choice was obvious. I remember when my mom was discussing costumes with Boy, Sister Dear, and me, I had no problem sorting through my dreams of "what I wanted to be." Most little girls go through various phases of wanting to be an astronaut, a teacher, or a librarian, in addition to being a mother, but fom my earliest memories, becoming a mother was my strongest yearning. At times through the years, I've also considered teaching piano lessons or being a seamstress (or becoming a math teacher. . . ), but those were always in addition to and second to my desire to be a mother, so my costume so long ago was quite appropriate.
In college, being an education major resulted in being asked on numerous occasions, "How long have you wanted to be a teacher?" :-) Well, actually, I really want to be a mother. A homeschool mother. Teaching is sort of an "interim occupation." Hehe.
Then I had the well-meaning mathematics professors who tried to convince me to switch from a math education major to a strictly mathematics major. Now, I'm not denying that the mathematics courses were far more interesting and stimulating than my education courses! But I didn't want a second degree or an eventual professorship, like they were suggesting. I wanted a little home, a Godly man to love, and a brood of children to nurture. My most emphatic mathematics professor persisted in trying to convince me to switch my degree to math and go on for a graduate degree in mathematics. When I told her that my plan was not to use my degree long-term, she looked a bit discouraged, and pleaded with me that "we need women in higher mathematics." This statement sort of perplexed me. Women are not specially suited for higher mathematics, though many are gifted in this area, myself included, so the need seemed contrived to me. But women are specially suited for another vocation: motherhood. As my professor told me of the great "need" for women in higher mathematics, I could not help but think, but we need mothers far more!
I was reminded of this conversation recently when reading this article, on the importance of motherhood. Here are a few snippets:
There is no compelling case that the world would be a better place if more women were lawyers, bankers, soldiers or engineers. There are many such arguments, however, that the world would be a far better place if more women were mothers. Which means more than the mere act of procreation. It means devotion, sacrifice and time. Not quality time, just time. Lots of it. It means refusing to accept that self-esteem can only come through a boss, water cooler gossip and a generous pension scheme.Make sure to read the whole article (Hattip: LAF)
Recently, a Tory MP told me, in a spasm of political correctness, that Canada needed more women in Parliament. I asked him why, and he reacted as if he'd never been asked the question before. Which, of course, he probably hadn't.
I continued: "Could it be argued that raising a child to be a respectful, intelligent, moral and good person is just slightly more important than sitting in a building in Ottawa and obeying the orders of some second-rate prime ministerial assistant?"
Will God ever grant my prayers for a husband and children? Maybe, maybe not. But that doesn't mean my hands need be idle now, lamenting my empty arms. I can cradle another mother's sweet infant and whisper a prayer of thanks for another gift of life, another child to be raised for Him.
I can also be thankful for the women in my family who sacrificed to raise up their children, who would in turn raise up children, who would raise up children, who would raise up children. . . eventually raising up me! I can be thankful for my own mother, who may not have ministered to the whole world when I was younger, but certainly defined the whole world for her three children. Some women choose to relinquish a powerful position of CEO, congressman, principal, or lawyer to become a mother, but they take on a far more powerful position. For the hand that rocks the cradle rules the world.