Motherhood Internship: What I Learned When Someone Else Did My Job

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Two young ladies spent a day doing my mommy job. I thought they were the ones who were there to learn. I was surprised by what I learned about motherhood!

Lynna Sutherland

Lynna believes that the gospel moves the homeschool mom from performance to possibility. She offers support for moms overwhelmed by homeschooling multiple ages and distracted by constant sibling conflict. Ditch what slows you down and look to Jesus. (Hebrews 12:1-2)

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One of my good friends has almost-twelve-year-old twin daughters who are sure they want ten or twelve children each. My friend thought it would be good to have them spend a day at our home as a kind of home-economics internship in motherhood. These young ladies are extremely capable, competent self-starters, so I was delighted to have them with us.  They were to come home with us Sunday evening and stay until bedtime on Monday night.

Two young ladies spent a day doing my mommy job. I thought they were the ones who were there to learn. I was surprised by what I learned about motherhood!

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Observations in Planning

In order to prepare for their visit, I needed to do some planning.  I printed recipes of the meals they would fix.  I typed up a (three-page) schedule for Sunday evening through Monday evening.  And as I did so, it occurred to me that there are some parts of motherhood you just can’t simulate.

Decision Making

As I typed up the plan, I was unable to escape how much I do on a daily basis that relies heavily on hours and hours (years and years, actually) of decision-making that I’ve done.  Yes, these girls were going to make meals.  But they didn’t have to do the menu planning or calculate how much was enough for a family of nine plus two visitors.  They didn’t have to choose the summer math and Latin review material the kids would work on or make backyard pool and bathing suit decisions and purchases.

I was nearly on the point of (joyful) tears just recognizing the amount of time, mental energy, and labor that I have invested, layer upon layer, into this family and these children.  There is so much I haven’t done.  So much I haven’t gotten to yet.  But there is so much I have done.  So much that I’ve managed and streamlined that I don’t even think about it anymore.

Perseverance

Anyone can take over a mother’s job for a day.  It’s fun!  It’s exciting!  It’s a good challenge!  But part of the calling of motherhood is doing it again the next day.  And the one after that.  And more after that than you can count on less sleep than you’d care to calculate.  I worried that these girls were going to come in, power energetically through the day like a dream and leave me feeling like a slow, tired worn-out horse.  I had to remind myself that they could sprint; I have to pace myself.

New Perspective on Motherhood

After all of the contemplation I did while preparing for their visit, I thought that knew what to expect.  But as I watched these young ladies interacting with my children, I found myself again surprised by what I observed.

Motherhood Internship 4

Experience

No matter how willing, full of energy and information you are, there is no replacement for experience.  Sunday evening after church the girls’ first task was to serve the kids a late dinner of peanut butter and jelly with carrot sticks.  I watched them diligently making one sandwich per kid … and then put away the ingredients and wash the knives.  I didn’t say anything; I just waited.  Not thirty seconds later, one of the children wanted another sandwich.  (I bet you saw that coming already, didn’t you!)

 

Two young ladies spent a day doing my mommy job. I thought they were the ones who were there to learn. I was surprised by what I learned about motherhood!

Personal Knowledge

After they helped the children to bed, the girls’ next job was to assign chores for the following morning.  I wanted to inject at least a little decision making into their job.  I listed the chores that would need to be completed and by each item, the children capable of doing that chore.  They divided up the chores and listed them in each child’s little task book.  As I listened to them talk, I realize how much more information I had (and used) when making these kinds of decisions that I couldn’t possibly communicate on paper!  Which child can be trusted to work upstairs without supervision?  Which child can watch the baby while working and what jobs are suitable for that?  I don’t just know “stuff”; I know my children.

Two young ladies spent a day doing my mommy job. I thought they were the ones who were there to learn. I was surprised by what I learned about motherhood!

Free Time

On  Monday morning, the girls put into the oven the oatmeal bake they had prepared the night before.  The next thing on the schedule was to serve breakfast, but that had to wait on the oven.  They came to me and asked me what they should do while they waited.  I was stunned, not because they asked, but because it’s a question I never ask!  I can’t think of the last time I was waiting on the next step in a process and there weren’t immediately a million other things pouring into that little space of time.

You know what they did?  They sat down on the rug and read Saint George and the Dragon to my children.  One of the girls read while the other one held the baby.  For the first of many times that day, my heart ached to be the mommy again, to just be with my children.  To have a moment of free time and spend it just being the mommy – not in the busy, task-oriented sense, but in the relationship, you-and-I-belong-to-each-other sense.

Two young ladies spent a day doing my mommy job. I thought they were the ones who were there to learn. I was surprised by what I learned about motherhood!
Return to Motherhood

These girls were almost totally able to replace me.  They supervised chores, prepared meals, managed dishes and laundry.  My kids adored them.  I had a chance to accomplish a few blog-tasks in the next room.  But the best benefit?  I was ready to get back to my job.  I know a thing or two about motherhood.  I know these children as individuals.  And I like being the one responsible for their care and development.  Peyton and Elise, thanks for reminding me what a privilege motherhood is!



  • I assume that last picture hours with the paragraph where “One of the girls read while the other one held the baby” but I’m looking and I can’t find a baby – but there is a giant bald kid sitting on her lap, almost as big as she is – is that it? 😀

  • Lynna! I remember you sharing this on Periscope☺ love your periscopes, insights and stories! Motherhood it is truly a calling!