Tonight I went to the First Things lecture on “The New Intolerance.” The talk was decent. The socializing was fun, which is saying a lot coming from an introvert. I saw old professors and friends and just generally chatted–which is almost shocking for me. I enjoyed dressing up, going out to a new place, hearing an intelligent talk and seeing some old buddies. I don’t get to do things like that very often.
And the reason I don’t do things like that often is because I love being a mother, and my two little ones (2 years and 6 months) need me– a lot of me. Especially because I am committed to Attachment Parenting; we breastfeed, co-sleep, babywear and the whole nine yards. And I love it. I can feel the ways that my children have transformed and are transforming my soul. I know that in many ways they force me to give up worldly striving, success, vainglory, etc.
There is still a part of me that is interested in intellectual pursuits, in reading informed essays and books (and fantastical ones), in writing my take on things, and most importantly constructing an ever-growing, encompassing understanding of world (or worldview). This last one is key–I must assimilate and learn and learn and learn. Mostly I learn that underneath every rock I turn over, there is another mountain of rocks. I know I’ll never get to the bottom, but I feel compelled to try anyway.
And there is vanity in it too. I admit that I like the image that goes along with writing and studying. Yes, I like looking smart. And it’s hard for me to admit that but it’s true. This prideful, vain and ultimately sinful manifestation of “scholarlyness” is something I need to be on guard against.
Thing is, it’s vanity because I’m no world class philosopher. I know that. I’m just little old me, and I spend most of my time changing diapers, making food and feeding hungry mouths and playing.
But somehow, no matter how half-hearted, lame, dumb or vain my attempts at understanding the world are, there is value in it for me. Because when I don’t do it, when I don’t read, write and seek new information and ideas, my world starts to shrink. My mind literally feels smaller, less adept, and more fearful of the unfamiliar. It’s a terrible feeling.
So I don’t know what I’m doing. I know that most of my time is and should be spent mothering. I know I’m not a genius. I know I have temptations to vanity. But I also know that I must learn and produce my own work in order to process the world, to be happy, and to be the mother that I am called to be.
I don’t know what I’m doing. I don’t know how to structure my time around these two ends of motherhood and scholarship, which don’t always come together easily. But I have to try, I think.
Advice and personal testimonials are welcome.