Motherhood is like one very long, very unpaid internship from heaven. It’s filled with all the menial, thankless tasks assigned to lowly interns, but like any great internship, it’s overflowing with opportunities to help, serve, learn and grow.
Interns at big firms aren’t in it for the money. They are in it for the experience. Even though we interns are often tasked with cleaning up and cleaning out, this particular internship offers us the privilege of being guardians to some very real angels.
Non-mommies often comment about how gross and demeaning it must be to change poopy diapers day in and day out. Do you know what a new mother thinks when she changes her baby’s first diaper? “You work! Your little, tiny body is working! Hurray!” When she cleans up her child’s vomit, she thinks, “My poor darling. Should I call the doctor? Wait a minute, when did you eat that!”
Something about becoming a mom enables her to reach down into a clogged garbage disposal without wincing in disgust. Spit-up, drool, snot? She’ll use her own blouse to wipe them up. It’s an honor just to be part of the team.
From that first cry, a mother’s heart is not her own. It gets carried around in the bodies of helpless toddlers who don’t know they shouldn’t climb into toilets. Her heart gets graded at school, hollered at by coaches, and comforted again by her own arms after one of them has had a bad dream.
I don’t mean to say that motherhood diminishes a mom’s own personal identity. It does not get swallowed up on the job. As counterintuitive as it may seem, this internship has the ability to expand identity. I know each mother frets over the birth of another child, worried she couldn’t possibly love another soul as much as she loves her first born. Or she is worried her heart will be like a pie and will have to be divided into smaller helpings with each addition to the table. Herself included. But surprise, surprise! With each new baby her love is not divided. It miraculously multiplies. What other job on earth can teach a heart to do that?
Sure, the internship is unpaid. But there are incredible perks. So many, she can miss them if she’s not paying attention.
Hearing her child say “thank you” without being prompted.
Realizing that all the shouting and running around is their own original, organized game.
Watching her baby play peek-a-boo with the stranger sitting behind her.
The list goes on and on. I just hope I can remember it all.
Now, this intern has a whole laundry list of errands and tasks to do today. Some menial, some meaningful and a few down right gross. But that’s the job of an intern: to put meaning in the mundane and make the minutia magical. It’s not an easy job, but I’m not in this for the money. It’s all about the experience.
Margaret Anderson is a BYU graduate, freelance writer, returned missionary and mother of four small children. You can read more at www.jamsandpickles.wordpress.com