As a wife and mother, I sometimes tend to feel put upon by all the “work” that goes into fulfilling these vocations, especially during a rougher than usual week. There’s laundry, cooking, sweeping, mopping, scrubbing, dish-washing, hand-holding, play-button-pushing, medicine-dispensing, DVD swapping, refereeing, and, when all that is done and the kids are in bed, there’s somehow always more that needs doing. Let’s face it: these co-vocations of spouse and parent require a lot.
Sometimes, if we’re not just getting it all done be are doing it well, and not receiving “Mother of the Year” awards from all who know us, we may be tempted to feel that we’re under appreciated. At least I know I’ve felt it before. As people, we have a desire to be recognized for our contributions and accomplishments. We want others to let us know that they know we’re doing our best, that we’re giving it our all, and that our all is ah-may-zing.
Here’s the only real problem with this: it isn’t.
See, by taking those vows during our weddings, we promised to do all of this, and to do all of it to the best of our abilities, every day, for the rest of our lives. We vowed before God and our spouses “to love, honor, and cherish” each other. Those are all verbs, all actions, all ways in which we promise to fulfill our vocations of marriage, and for many of us, parenthood. All that we do everyday as spouses and parents is exactly what is required of us. We don’t deserve awards for doing the dishes. We deserve admonishments for not doing them. We’ve done nothing amazing by staying up all night beside a sick child. We’ve done our children and our vocation a disservice if we fail to do so. The fact is, giving our all is only exactly what we promised to do when we got married and had children, and last I checked, they don’t hand out commendations for just doing one’s duty. Giving our all within the context of our vocations is only “enough.”
When it comes to living out my vocation, I find myself needing a reminder of this basic fact: that the ways of Christ are not the ways of the world. In a culture that puts self first, it is easy to get lost in the idea of false sacrifices. Parents and spouses are encouraged to see themselves as martyrs, dying to the whims of those in their lives. To fulfill a vocation, any vocation, however, one must die every day to self. And since once must do it, there is nothing overly sacrificial about doing so. So before we go patting ourselves on the back over giving our all, perhaps we should remind ourselves that our “all” is really our “enough,” and our “enough” is nothing compared to the sacrifice of Christ.