In that random way things turn up on the internet, I was directed to an article “Why won’t feminists admit the pleasure of infants?” by Katie Roiphe. Here’s the part that caught my eye:
But then part of the allure of maternity leave is precisely this: You give up everything you are and care about. The books on your shelves are not your books; the clothes hanging in the closet are not your clothes. You are the vague, slow, exhausted animal nursing its young. Anything graceful, original, sharp, intelligent about you is gone. And it is that sacrifice of self, that total denial of the outside world, that uncompromising violence done to your everyday life, that is this period’s appeal. You are transported in a way you will never be transported again; this is the vacation to end all vacations.
I don’t know how common that feeling is for mothers, but it’s interesting she sees denial of self as a “vacation to end all vacations.”
The Christian life is often expressed in terms like this. Jesus says “Whoever wants to be first must be last of all and servant of all” (Mark 9:33-37). He says if he has washed our feet, we should wash one another’s feet (John 13:1-20). And the Apostle Paul describes Jesus’ whole ministry as self-emptying (Philippians 2:5-11).
Do we read those passages this way? Do we see loving service as an opportunity to be blessed? Or as weary drudgery? Perhaps we can learn something from the experience of new mothers like Katie Roiphe.