In May, I read The Mission of Motherhood by Sally Clarkson. I had been looking forward to reading this book for a long time, especially after hearing so many favorable reviews of it.
The Mission of Motherhood focuses on God's design for mothers and the importance of raising children in a Godly way. Sally Clarkson encourages mothers to be there for their children physically and emotionally, to guide and instruct them, to meet their needs, to create family traditions, and to bring their children up with a deep understanding of God. She encourages mothers to manage their homes well, to inspire creativity and generosity in their children, and to seek guidance from God throughout the highs and lows of mothering. She essentially encourages intentional parenting-- committing to a vision of family and parenting and, with God's help, following through-- rather than flying by the seat of your pants or not really having a vision.
Mothering is an exercise in self-sacrifice, and sometimes it is frustrating and exhausting-- but mothering is so important and so rewarding. In the last chapter of the book, Clarkson reflects on the times when she felt burned out and worn down as a mother, the times when she felt like she was inadequate or a failure. At the time she was reflecting on it, her children were at an age where she was seeing her commitment to her vision for motherhood pay off. Right now I find myself in the first category a lot of times, feeling inadequate and wondering what I've gotten myself into. The last chapter was so encouraging to me because it reminded me to stay committed to my vision for motherhood, and above all, to seek God. I can't do this on my own; you'd think I would've realized that by now, but I keep learning that same lesson over and over in different situations.
Overall, I think it was a pretty good book. There were times that I struggled with what was being said, but I think this is partially because of my own issues. You see, I'm a perfectionist and an idealist, and I am guilty of expecting far too much of myself as a woman and a mother and then becoming very critical of myself when I fail to measure up to my too-high standards. This book does not say that all mothers should do things exactly the same and meet particular standards, but my own issues colored my perception and caused me to be too harsh on myself at times while reading this book. I'll go ahead and warn those who have similar struggles: you may have a hard time with this book in some places, not because of what it's saying but because of how you're perceiving it. It's definitely worth taking the time to read, and I hope to get a chance to read it again someday.