My Role as a Woman (in Honor of International Women’s Day)
March 8, 2013 § 5 Comments
Today we celebrate International Women’s Day as a national public holiday here in Zambia.
Since becoming a mother last June, I have been contemplating my role as woman and what that means for my identity, my family, and my work.
Growing up, my Dad was the sole breadwinner and my Mom worked to take care of our home. She home-schooled my brother and I through high school. I’m forever grateful to both my parents for their sacrifices for my education, well-being, and spiritual upbringing.
I had my own ideas about what being a woman would look like, which in my mind was the same as being a mother. Originally, they were pretty traditional and very close to the model of my parents. I would work as a nurse until Ben and I had biological children. I would, of course, birth them all naturally at home with a midwife and have a birth doula along side of me. I would then stay home with our 4 biological children and 1 adopted infant (whom we adopted when we were “finished” having biological children). My life would be perfect and my family would be perfect. I would be a great mom and raise children who would change the world. I would probably home-school all 5 of them and my children would be tremendous scholastic achievers.
Then infertility revealed itself and everything began to change.
I was a pediatric nurse but taking care of sick children didn’t bring my own children to nurture and love.
I was a birth doula but my beliefs about natural child-birth couldn’t bring about my own babies to birth.
I was a wife to Ben but our love didn’t produce any little ones to hold.
I was a woman wanting to be a mom but didn’t have any children to make me one.
I had always thought that motherhood was intricately intertwined with womanhood. How could I be a woman and not have children? It was an identity crisis. I was the same person I had been before but I could see that this experience was making me into someone else. I could no longer define myself based on the roles I performed in my life.
As we waded through doctors’ offices, infertility clinics, adoption paperwork, and social work offices, I had a sweet husband that encouraged me to find identity outside of what child I did or didn’t have. I had to identify on my own and spiritually in Christ without anything or anyone else. All else was secondary.
If my identity is based on my child, what happens if he becomes sick? Or dies? Or disappoints me? What happens if he fails me by not doing the right thing or getting the right achievement? What if he declares himself no longer a Christian after I have taught him how to serve Jesus? How does that affect me and my role as a mother?
I have to be firm in who I am as a person and who I am in the kingdom of God. I know that God has gifted me with an ability for administration, compassion, and service. Part of my calling is to serve and care for children with intellectual and physical disabilities.
Ironically, that means that I am now a working mom of an only child who sends him off to school every day. Three days a week he spends his afternoon with the nanny. My life is not what I pictured at all. However, I work to fulfill the call on my life to serve the poor, the lowly, and the least of these.