Mama’s Big Adventure

Carla: For the last few weeks, I’ve had a thing roiling around in my head. Actually, it’s a few things that seem to have coalesced into one thing that I think might be worth sharing with the Revoution.

For starters, I read this book (which I’ve mentioned before) in which the author points out that all the great epic adventures in literature belong to men–the Illiad, the Odyssey, Paul Bunyan. Her book is her effort–and it’s a good one–to relate the grand adventure that is motherhoood. Instead of facing the Gorgons or resisting the Sirens, mothers face down head lice and tantrums while resisting the urge to check out and  hit the road.

Item two was the movie “Up,” which you need to see if you haven’t already. In a nutshell, Karl is an old man whose wife, Ellie has died. Ellie and Karl had big dreams of grand adventure, but life kept getting in the way of their plans. He carries a deep regret that they were never able to see the world and he is determined to honor her memory by making the epic journey they could never afford. Spoiler alert! Once Karl reaches his destination, he discovers that for Ellie, their simple life together was the greatest adventure of all. Considering all that we’ve been talking about here at the Rev for all these months, this scene hit me like a house dropping out of the sky.

Item three was the song “Time Stand Still” by Rush. That’s right, Rush. If you haven’t heard it, well you’re probably under 30 for one thing, but it’s worth the 99 cents it will cost you to download it from iTunes. I’ve heard the song a billion times and I’ve always liked it. But a few week ago, it came on while our family was driving and both my husband and I were struck by how quickly our kids are growing up and how fast they are changing. By the time Geddy Lee started singing, “Freeze this moment a little bit longer, make each sensation a little bit stronger,” we were both blubbering.

In combination, these experiences are helping me reframe motherhood–and really my life in general. I am trying to see it as both something bigger than the daily slog of making food and folding clothes, and something more simple and profound than I ever imagined.

One of my big beefs with the myths of motherhood is that they make it about everything it isn’t. They make motherhood about clean houses and well-behaved children. They make it about having the answers and lacking all doubts.

But this epic adventure isn’t about knowing where we end up. It’s certainly not about having a clear map set out. It’s about something so much deeper. It’s about sharing life with these people–my family, my friends, my neighbors–and truly loving them. There really is no greater adventure than navigating human relationships. There are no higher highs and no lower lows. This is where life happens, in sharing the ups and downs of existence with other people. An incredible trip to South America might be awesome in its own right, but its the sharing of that adventure–the stories and pictures and memories passed on to the people we love–that makes it meaningful.

As I walked out of the movie with my kids in tow, I looked at them and thought “They are my adventure.” Mind you they aren’t the only one, but being their mother and watching them become the people they were created to be is an astonishing journey, one I never want to take for granted.

Caryn: Carla, this is great. Good stuff. Motherhood is an adventure. One I’m thrilled to be on. One that terrifies me. Grosses me out. Leaves me exhausted and quite lost. But adventures make me smile and make me feel strong and brave and purposeful (ahem). They excite me. So, thanks for this picture of motherhood. Because, honestly, over these past few weeks of summer, I started to see it as a deep pit of quicksand…..

Carla: In “Up”, Karl needs Russell, the neighbor kid, to literally throw him a rope (well, a garden hose) so they can survive their adventure. So here’s a rope my friend.


4 responses to this post.

  1. Yes, an adventure! An exhilirating, frightening, messy, lovely adventure.


  2. Posted by Saranell Hartman on August 27, 2009 at 8:34 pm

    Thank you Carla and Caryn! Mommy Revolution continues to bring me smiles and heart felt encouragement. Being a parent is just a lot of work. I have really tried “Practicing the presence of God” while nursing in the middle of the night, washing dishes, picking up again, etc. but looking at motherhood as an adventure in relationship- is more my speed. Gary Thomas’ book Sacred Parenting is also helping reframe the intensity.

    Keep up the good work. I am ready for another webinar. Please!


  3. Posted by Heather on August 27, 2009 at 10:05 pm

    Carla – your word just made me blubber, especially as our family is looking to transition in big ways in the coming months. Life is an adventure. A ride that we keep running back in line for!


  4. Posted by abby on August 29, 2009 at 9:01 pm

    I have been a silent reader of the MR for a few months now, and this is one of my favorite posts! So often, I think the “mommy” role is minimized…and then we get caught-up and miss the whole point. If you have not read Cold Tangerines by Shauna Niequist, you must. It’s a compilation of short essays/stories of her life (with a bit of mommyhood) that focuses on finding the divine in the daily. Thank you for writing!


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