How do we understand ourselves when we realize motherhood has changed us? We look past role, achievements, and platitudes to dig deep into our true identity.
Literally. As in I’m physically, emotionally, & mentally reaching the end of my strength most days. At no other time in my life has opening my eyes in the morning been painful,—oh, how it hurts.
I’m not the polished, level headed, organized mom I aspire to be. In fact, I’m more aware of my inability than ever.
Yet somehow here, in the mere minutes of prayer before my kids wake, despite my sleep-deprivation & all the details that must be managed for the day, yes, in my weakness, God is meeting me.
He’s showing himself strong & keeping his promises.
In 1 Cor. 1:8-9, Paul writes, ‘For we do not want you to be unaware, brothers, of the affliction we experienced in Asia. For we were so utterly burdened beyond our strength that we despaired of life itself. Indeed, we felt that we had received the sentence of death. But that was to make us rely not on ourselves but on God who raises the dead.’
Do you see it? The trial Paul experienced exposed his weakness & forced his reliance on God. A few verses later, he writes:
‘For all the promises of God find their Yes in him. That is why it is through him that we utter our Amen to God for his glory’ (v. 20).
Slowly but surely I’m learning to rejoice in the inadequacies that bind me to Jesus & release me to abide in him. I’m finding freedom—not guilt—in the fact that I bring absolutely nothing to the banquet table & yet his banner over me is love.
I’m learning to find joy in seeing Christ work through my weakness & in spite of me, for his own glory.
In this way, the hard work of motherhood is a gift, a sharp lens through which we clearly see our own weakness & our Savior’s all-encompassing strength. This was never about us or our motherhood journey. Our every life circumstance is orchestrated by his grace for his pleasure.
He knew motherhood, like life, would lead us here—to the end of ourselves, so he made a way for us to experience the joy of confessing our weakness, surrendering our strength, and resting in him.
This is gospel hope.
Those early years of mothering, they just didn’t fit me quite right.
Ya know, like how you feel when you try on one of those rompers and you just keep tugging and twisting it, hoping to get it to lay just right.
Something about a newborn felt odd, and unknown to me. My body seemed foreign, my routines were in the diaper genie. I wasn’t sure what had changed in me, or what was to remain the same.
That little babe on my chest, at times, didn’t fit quite right.
This is how motherhood felt for a couple years. I would look at my reflection in the metaphorical mirror and tug and twist this awkward new title of mom. The struggle, was very real.
In an attempt to silence the fear of failing as a mom, I overcompensated with tight and rigid schedules and extreme expectations. That control birthed other bad habits and misconceptions—like that mothering was something at which to win.
I look down at my shoes, worn black Vans, and rub the dried formula off the toe. I hastily tuck my hair behind my ears and catch my baby girl smiling at me from the corner of my eye. I move to the stove to look down at the oatmeal I'm making for breakfast, stirring in raisins and obscene amounts of peanut butter to try to hold off the request for a snack for at least a couple hours.
There's this thing I've noticed when you become a mom, it happens abruptly beginning with the first night of the first babe, yet I'd be willing to bet that most moms don't even notice it happening. It's subtle, a common thread among all of motherhood - but one that would rather not be noticed, not be plucked out and put on display.
"What does the church need to give moms this Mother's Day?" <--- a question we received on Twitter that's worth considering ...
At first, my brain shuffled through the obvious things: the church needs to support moms, to thank them, to equip them for discipleship, and to provide outlets for fellowship and spiritual growth. These messages, at some level, always feel timely and helpful. But as I thought about it more, what moms really need to hear from their church this Mother's Day isn't a burdensome statement about the hugeness of their calling, a heartfelt "thanks" that can sometimes fall on deaf ears due to guilt, or a list of ways they can do even better in motherhood...
What moms really need, if we are to give them the strength to run the race set before them, is a reminder of who they are and what they have in Christ.
I've been a mom of two for just nine weeks. And in those short nine weeks, motherhood has flipped me over, stretched me thin and spit me out empty. Between a colic/reflux/generally fussy newborn; a curious, demanding and needy toddler; and an unexpected, fast occurring move to a new state; I've pretty much been owned by this season of life.
My temper is short with my toddler, all of my usual patience for his incessant request for cheese, colors and horsey spent. My house, not really ever clean, but usually picked up at the end of a day, a total mess - crumbs from four different meals are piled below the high chair, toys littered in every room of the house, and clean laundry sits in the dryer, forgotten for the past seven days. And my husband, he receives the brunt of my angst - he and I are burning the candle at both ends these days, neither with any fuel at the end of the day for each other.