Re-shared from Bartimeaus Cooperative’s newsletter.
At Farm Church on Mother’s Day, Charletta Erb talked with Erin H, mother of Gabriel (5 years) and Lucia (4 months),about mothering as discipleship, as part of our occasional “biography as theology” reflections.
Is motherhood a spiritual act for you?
Since Lucia’s birth my space has been physically grounded, happily reclusive, narrow, and defined by the predictable cycle of a baby’s needs. At times I find myself fighting it, or wanting my own space, but then I release (often with the help of nursing) and can relax into it as I remember this is such a short season. Then I just stare in wonder at my children. Mothering is a discipline, like training for a century or iron man, or like sitting in meditation for hours: painful and repetitive, yet so rewarding, with fleeting moments of nirvana or bliss.
What have you learned about God through the experience of mothering?
I feel like a co-creator with God, sometimes in a “Big Bang” sort of way: a touch or push here, and the ball is rolling in directions I couldn’t have predicted. Other times in an evolutionary way: slowly and steadily teaching and shaping my young. I realize how earthly and sentient I and my children are. We have to eat, sleep, play and struggle; there’s not a lot of time for reflection on the abstract. My and my family’s needs are clear and tangible. It reminds me of Jesus’ ministry to the sick and poor: how he used touch and food to transform.
Does mothering nurture you? How do you treat yourself differently since becoming a mother?
Mothering has made me hyper-alert, and focused on the needs of my children. I don’t think it nurtures me in the traditional sense of the word. As Shady can attest, it hasn’t made me more easy-going or healthy or fit. But it has made me start turning down activities or promotions or jobs that don’t fit, or that take me away from my family. In stepping back I have been able to step up later: in activism or supporting friends or extended family in ways I wouldn’t have had space for prior to becoming a mom. I find myself both expanding my capacity for love and empathy, even as I contract my focus.