Don’t say no one ever told you…

Jul 9, 2010 by

Don’t say no one ever told you…

Below is an excerpt from an interview with Elizabeth Gilbert, author of the book Committed (a follow-up of sorts to the ever-popular Eat, Pray, Love). In preparing a discussion for our married couples group tonight, I came across Liz’s thoughts on the romanticism of motherhood, which is idealized as much as marriage is. I’ve started to realize how detrimental it is to romanticize two of the most difficult roles created: mother and wife.

It is an encouragement to me as I read, knowing the weight and significance of both of those life choices, and although I truly adore my husband AND my children both, I realize the implications and impact I do and will continue to have on those people. Forever. (Scary much?)

See, I just want to make it a POSITIVE impact. So today I am grateful I am not alone in such weighty endeavors, but I am supported by the strength of a mighty God, and His Spirit in me. And that’s what I need to rely on.

Because let’s be frank, if I were relying on myself, my children could be in immediate danger sometimes :)

Committed was an interesting book on marriage in America and what it means to commit your life to someone in the context of history, fidelity, compatibility, family traditions, social expectations, divorce risks, and humbling responsibilities. Here is the interview:

You tell a story in the book that is pivotal for you, about your grandmother. She was born with a cleft palate and thought to be unmarriageable, so she got an education and took care of herself, one day rewarding herself with a $20 fur-trimmed, wine-colored coat, which she adored. Eventually she does marry. And when she gives birth to her first daughter, she cuts up the coat to make something for the child.

Liz Gilbert: That’s the story of motherhood, in a large way. You take the thing that is most precious to you, and you cut it up and give it to somebody else who you love more than you love the thing. And we tend to idealize that, and I’m not sure we should. Because the sacrifice that it symbolizes is also huge. Her marriage and her seven children, in a life of constant struggle and deprivation—it was heavy. And that beautiful mind, that beautiful intellect, that exquisite sense of curiosity and exploration, was gone. I went to Africa when I was 19, and when I came back, I was showing her pictures. And I remember her stopping me and just—she had to collect herself. And she said, “I cannot believe that a granddaughter of mine has been to Africa. I just can’t imagine how you got there.” I think that her story is so central to my story. To be able to choose the shape of your own life—you sort of must do that, as an act of honor to those who couldn’t. There were times, especially when I was traveling for Eat, Pray, Love, when, I swear to God, I would feel this weight of my female ancestors, all those Swedish farmwives from beyond the grave who were like, “Go! Go to Naples! Eat more pizza! Go to India, ride an elephant! Do it! Swim in the Indian Ocean. Read those books. Learn a language. Do it!” I could just feel them. They were just like, “Go beat the drum.”

So moms, wives, soon-to-be moms or wives, now you can’t say no one ever told you how hard it will be (because, really- no one does ever tell you). I’m taking the opportunity to tell you now, straight up, that being married and having children will be THE two most difficult undertakings of your life. And they WILL also be the two most rewarding, as long as you don’t think marriage is about happiness, or that raising children is about you.

Cheers, moms, and cheers, wives. Keep loving and sacrificing :)

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  1. Anonymous

    Thank you, that was extremely valuable and interesting…I will be back again to read more on this topic.

  2. Anonymous

    Awesome site, I had not come across previously in my searches!
    Carry on the fantastic work!