The Freer Sky of Motherhood

At the Beach, Edward Henry Potthast

“How much larger your life would be if your self could become smaller in it; if you could really look at other men with common curiosity and pleasure…. You would begin to be interested in them…. You would break out of this tiny and tawdry theatre in which your own little plot is always being played, and you would find yourself under a freer sky, and in a street full of splendid strangers.” — G.K. Chesterton

As a mother we are given a gift – and one we may fail to appreciate and too often see as a curse – the gift of compulsory self-denial.  Our baby must be fed.  The diaper must be changed.  The toddler has to be potty-trained. These duties are not easily neglected.  And so we do it and in the doing, we forget ourselves.  We focus entirely on our very own “splendid strangers.”  We look on in awe and remembrance as the wonderous world is opened to our marvelous child.

Friends come and go, coworkers leave at 5pm, even the bond between spouses may sadly break, but we will always be our child’s mother. We will always have at least one relationship that has benefited, from the very first moments, from the shrinking of our Self, where we gazed on the other with pleasure and curiosity. We have the chance to start from scratch with our child – to act out our role with selflessness and intention. This is a grand opportunity. And because of this, we have a larger life – we have given much, so we receive much. We will know all the better how to live “under a freer sky in the streets of splendid strangers”, because we are mothers.

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