A Holy Work
Mothering is holy work. From the very beginnings, the calling to be a mother is one that humbles us. Welcoming a child into one’s family may not happen at the time we desire—too soon or much later than hoped. We realize that we are not in control of our circumstances.
Pregnancy comes and it isn’t always what we expected. Our bodies will expand—we know that much. We understand there’s a chance of spending weeks feeling sick but it is a harder thing to be immersed in it. We can dream about the feeling of a baby kicking inside but not truly know the miracle of it until it happens. We wonder what labor and birth will be like and we may even make plans… but it is unpredictable as well. Even in the early stages of motherhood we must learn to let go. Birth means giving of all we have, digging deep to find strength when it feels as if there is nothing left. Those last minutes of labor with my firstborn I think I said, “I’m dying,” a couple times. I felt as if I was sacrificing my life for my child. It brought me a deeper understanding of Christ’s love for me.
Once the baby arrives, the harder work begins. Our bodies must physically heal and must do so without the benefit of a full night’s rest. We look at ourselves in the mirror and may feel unrecognizable. In the midst of these large changes, we also have to learn to care for a tiny person who has limited communication skills. At the start it’s a guessing game of what the baby needs. Hungry? Wet? Gassy? Cold?
When Abigale was brand new, I remember having a realization that I like my sleep. I knew that ahead of time, I guess. It’s just that I couldn’t truly conceptualize the new mom fatigue until I was living in it. I remember mentally begging my baby to sleep longer so I could as well. It didn’t work, imagine that. I had a deeper understanding of my selfishness in those moments. It brought me to my Heavenly Father to ask for help—help for me to wake and care for my daughter even when it was tough. At this point my son is almost 15 months old and has yet to sleep through even one night. I’m again relying on naps and Jesus to pull me through.
I could not fail to mention the heartache of mothering in light of grief. Abigale was a toddler and Aurora was in utero when I was widowed. Trust me when I say I didn’t feel like I had the strength to keep going. Yet my God is good and He helped me continue living for the sake of my girls. Every day I got up and took care of Abbi, and I cared for Aurora by caring for my own body. As time went on I had a newborn and a toddler to care for as a solo parent. Grandparents and church family helped as they could but ultimately the babies were my responsibility. There were nights of cleaning up vomit and then 12 hour shifts the next day… There were calls from daycare about behavioral issues and no co-parent to help me figure out the best course of action. It was obvious how deficient I was as a parent—that I could not meet all their needs. The good thing is, I wasn’t meant to. God is the one who can fill all the brokenness, not me.
When I say I spent a lot of time crying out to God I mean that in a literal sense. So many tears and so much despair was poured out, but not to the void. The Lord collected my tears and listened to my heartache. He carried me through all the dark times. He saw me when nobody knew how severe my struggles and He covered me in his grace. Eventually he brought me a new husband to help carry the load, too.
Now I’m a mother striving to see myself in light of that grace. There are times I let my kids down. When you have a breastfeeding toddler it takes a lot of your time. I cannot always attend things for the bigger kids. I want to be at Nevaeh’s sporting events and take the younger girls to all the fun activities. Samuel gets upset when I cook dinner instead of holding him. I have to balance the children’s needs and wants.
Shortly out of school I was offered a midwife job that would have been great financially. Initially I was planning to do it but as I drew closer to Samuel’s due date, I felt it wasn’t the best plan. I couldn’t imagine taking a super short maternity leave and then resuming a 50+ hour/week job. I’m so grateful we’ve been able to make things work where I can be home with Samuel most of the time. Career goals can wait—because children are only small once.
My home isn’t as tidy or clean as I would like. I’m learning that dishes can wait so I can read a story to my kids. Blowing bubbles or going for walks with kids takes precedence over folding laundry. Vacuuming isn’t easy to accomplish because it scares the baby. It’s not the easiest thing for me but I know they need me more than they need a sparkling home.
In this stage of life Samuel takes up so much of my time and energy. Most nights I’m in bed by 8:30 because he won’t sleep unless I lie down to nurse him. He also cannot be transferred to the crib, which means I need to stay nearby to make sure he doesn’t fall out of bed. I miss being able to sit and hang out with Don in the evenings. We don’t get much time to talk or connect. That being said, we keep reminding ourselves that this is just a season and will not last forever. Again, motherhood means putting other’s needs above my own.
God continues to use this calling to make me more like Him. He uses my children to make me aware of my shortcomings and my sin. This helps me rely on Him and stay connected in prayer. He is my maker and I am his creation. Part of what He placed me on this earth to do is to be a good steward of the children in my care.
Lord, thank you for these kids. Thank you for this calling. Help me to love them well and raise them to know You. Amen.