Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Molded by Motherhood

At the end of each day, if I am not half-dead too tired, I will reflect on the events of that particular day. I will think of things I said, or didn't say to my children; things I did, or didn't do for my children. I will confess sin and plead for grace in those areas where I feel I failed as a mother.

I know what I am doing is Kingdom Work, but to put this huge responsibilty of my actions, and my words forming my children into who they are is sometimes overwhelming. I think it's the other way around a lot more of the time.

The other day, I was reading in the latest issue of Cookie magazine, (don't ask me why I got a subscription to this thing: in a word, don't!) an article with the actress Julianne Moore. This particular paragraph struck me:

When she's not shooting movies or shuttling kids, Moore works with causes she's passionate about, including a local literacy group called Reach Out and Read, the Tuberous Sclerosis Alliance (which fights a genetic disorder that affects the heart, brain and other organs), Planned Parenthood, and the National Breast Cancer Coalition. But don't suggest that her active philanthropic life is just the result of her becoming a parent. She says:" There's this whole notion about mothering and how it changes you, and that's just baloney. I got angry at this woman once--we were talking about AIDS in Africa, and she asked me, 'As a mother, how do you feel?...I said, 'What?' How about as a person? You're not different because you're a mom. You're the same person.

Say what?

I "get" what she's saying, but how could she discredit motherhood so easily? It had to have some impact on her choices, her emotions, her philanthropy.

I don't want this to be a bashing fest of Julianne Moore (for, actually, as a person, I would probably like her!) But, mainly, this is just about her worldview, and a comment I just can't understand.

I don't know, I'm thinking of this quote from Elisabeth Elliot:

The fact that I am a woman does not make me a different kind of Christian, but the fact that I am a Christian does make me a different kind of woman. For I have accepted God’s idea of me, and my whole life is an offering back to Him of all that I am and all that He wants me to be.

Perhaps, that's what she was trying to say? But..what Julianne Moore is missing, obviously, is Christ.

How can motherhood not affect you? Fortunately, I became a Christian first, but motherhood is that big vehicle in my life which sanctifies me. (Among other things, of course.) I can't help but see the world through a motherhood filter.

"I'd like to suggest that we stop thinking of motherhood as something we do, or even as something we are, and instead envision motherhood as a practice through which we ourselves are formed… We need to recognize that God uses parenting to form us, to shape our character, to move us toward being more like Christ. Our relationships with our children change us indelibly. Certainly, we are an important factor in their spiritual formation, but they are just as important in ours." ~Carla Barnhill "The Myth of the Perfect Mother"

What do you think Moore is saying? And do you agree? Do you find many of your choices and passions are a result of being a mother, or just a Christian in general? Obviously our love for Christ should come first and foremost, and then our husbands, but we can't help be molded by motherhood. What do you think?


Sheila said...

I have been molded by motherhood - for good and for bad. That was a strange quote by Moore.

Thanks for that great quote from Barnhill. I wasn't aware of that book. I will check it out from the library.

Amy Jane (Untangling Tales) said...

The tone of the actress's comment made me remember what's come out of my own mouth in moments of unrestrained, defensive pride.

I don't like how something sounds coming out of someone else's mouth ("To praise me now is to imply I was lesser/deficient before, and I disagree with that analysis."), and without the time to think it through and come to peace with my self-contradictions or imperfections, I give a knee-jerk response in the negative backed-up with what ever makes sense in my defense at the moment.

Bet you a nickel in 6-months or five years she will comfortably agree that being a mother has inevitably corrected or improved some deficiency.

Just, if my humble experience is any indication, the first time a thought is introduced it can be too overwhelming or personal to accept at once-- especially before an audience.

Llama Momma said...

Motherhood has shaped me more than any other experience outside of coming to Christ. And it continues to shape me daily.

I, too, filter through this lens. When I read about AIDS orphans, I weep. I cannot imagine my own children going through such pain. I want to take them all in, as I would want someone to do for my children if I wasn't there.

Motherhood has altered my perspective on just about everything. And that's a good thing.

Janel said...

My knee jerk reaction? If she's a mother and "passionate" about Planned Parenthood, does she wish she wasn't a mother?

It's one thing to visit Planned Parenthood, make a mistake and regret it for the rest of your days. In my mind, it's quite another to embrace PP as one of your "passions." I am a passionate woman who knows passion. In NO WAY would I support PP with my passions, unless it was to passionately oppose them.

Jana said...

What struck me was the first few lines of the quote. It seems to imply that acting and motherhood are two things that are just a part of her life, but not the things she's passionate about. THAT is what bothers me. In the first few years of my motherhood, I will admit that I WASN'T passionate about it. BUT, at the same time, I couldn't seem to find a passion for anything else as long as I was fighting motherhood. I understand that not everyone is as passionate about motherhood as I am, and I think part of it is that I have a passion for MOTHERS, in general. Which brings me to my next comment. Yes. Motherhood MOST CERTAINLY has changed me. I agree. It sanctifies me. I do not understand how it could NOT change your life. I think there are some things in this world that will not mean anything to us, or will not move us, if we have never had the experience of being a parent. There are movies I watched as a teen, for example, that bored me. But I watch them now and they make me weep. It's because something has happened to my heart. It has been a process. And that process is called motherhood.

Sara Kay said...

Hi there!
I could see why Moore would say something like that. Maybe she doesn't like what motherhood has changed in her. Before I had kids, I was a very self-assured person. I had my agenda, my schedule. I've been a mom for 2 1/2 years now, and I feel like I'm still in the middle of a breaking process over that kind of attitude. I deal with HUGE insecurity for the first time in my life. Now, I know that it's because for once in my life I am having to find my identity in Christ instead of in my accomplishments. But someone who didn't know Christ would never be able to find that...

anya said...

the quote from moore is so strange to me, because change DOES take place when you become a mother. maybe you wont like that change in you, maybe you wont like the person you become- and maybe she doesnt- but to act as if your world doesnt change over night when you become a mom makes me wonder how moore sees motherhood? and what is so bad about'changing'? what kind of people would any of us be if we werent changed, stretched, and growing through a thousand circumstances throughout our lives?

Mrs. MK said...

Motherhood has changed me, and continues to soften and shape me. But as you said, it is Christ and surrender to him through the good and bad circumstances of life AND motherhood that brings about worthwhile change.

Beck said...

Motherhood changed me utterly - every part of my life has been remolded by them. I can't imagine any woman saying that. How odd.

Terry said...

I didin't think like a grown up until I became a mother. We married and started our family at a young age (21 and 23). I saw marriage and family as something designed to make me happy (and I was a Christian!!) Once I became a mother, it was like a light switch came on. Life was no longer all about me. Motherhood definitely changes you, unless you simply refuse to let it do so. And if that's so in Ms. Moore's case, God help her kids.

The Simple Shepherdess said...

Your post is beautiful! I just linked to your blog from Making Home. I find the quote by the actress seems to reveal a prideful heart, nothing God can't take care of:)

On the other hand I find the quote by Elisabeth Elliot to be beautiful. I may have to frame that one. Did you read that in one of her books? If so, which one?

Beverly said...

I had to stop and think after reading that quote by Moore. She seemed offended that she was being asked a question based on her identity as a mother. I find it hard to understand how she could feel that way, because I love to be identified as a mother. Of course, my love for Christ influences everything in my life including motherhood -- but I have really changed since becoming a mother. It has definitely influenced my thinking and my actions.

Anonymous said...

All Moore needed to tell the person she was irrationally offended by was: "Before I was a mother, I cared about AIDS in Africa. While motherhood has changed my perspective (***we hope***) on many things, AIDS in Africa is an issue that has always been important to me."

Moore, I hope you wouldn't be offended by these questions by me: "Has motherhood changed you at all? Have you let it change you? Do you think the role of mother could improve a person if she embraced it? Do you think you are still trying to hold on to the you pre-children? Do you think being the same person pre-children is a good thing?"

It's my opinion that mothering ought to change you. If it doesn't, maybe you're not really doing it right and you're ignoring God.

Being a Christian, Christian motherhood, and motherhood have all molded me. The journey definitely continues, and I am thankful for God giving me the opportunity to grow spiritually through my experience as a mother. It's a challenging gift!

Jennifer, Snapshot said...

My gut reaction is to say that I don't agree with what she's saying, but after thinking about it, I DO get it from a political/social standpoint. Why should a mother feel any differently about tragedy or injustice? It is wrong and all should acknowledge that.

However, I completely agree with you in that motherhood has changed who I am. Maybe not how I think, but who I am at the core.

I get Cookie magazine too, and feel the exact same way about it. My subscription will be running out soon.

Mindy said...

I am absolutely molded by motherhood!!!

Christine said...

Wonderful post. I can't put into words what I feel about this topic, it's right at the surface but won't form into anything intelligible. I'll be thinking about it , though!

Holly said...

Even more than being changed by motherhood, I think we are MORE changed by each child.

Interesting concept - but I guess that we ("we" being used broadly...) don't want to be defined by children. To some, that is offensive. I think I remember those days...Funny how we grow and change.

Andrea said...

I think you are right. I am more changed by each CHILD than anything.

And you touched on an interesting point: to some it's offensive to be defined by our children...sad.

Elise said...

Wow. I can't form my thoughts into words either, Christine! :) Just thinking and trying to not be judgmental.

Motherhood has certainly changed me, but before that, Christ did. And He flavors everything that comes after.

Such good thoughts, Andrea! Sheesh!