My husband and I had our first child earlier than we had anticipated. I realize now that I was completely unprepared for this change in my life. Physically, we had everything for the new baby: beautiful nursery, an abundance of clothes, all the right Dr. Seuss books, so we were set, right? While we may have had everything that sweet little boy needed to stay alive and comfortable, I was missing the most important part – a heart for motherhood. I didn’t even know I needed one, and turns out they don’t sell those at Babies R Us.
My husband and I planned for me to work for a few years after college to pay off student loans. I loved my job and I was good at it. I loved the recognition I got from my supervisor and peers, and I loved the children I worked with. I was busy and productive. But I only got one year of that before we had our first son and I began to stay at home. All of a sudden I had no supervisor or peers to applaud my accomplishments; the busiest part of my day culminated in trying to keep the baby from screaming while I tried to prepare dinner before Daddy got home. Not the glamorous first few years out of college I had been hoping for.
I did what many of us do: I tried to run from the very thing God was calling me to do. I went back to work off and on for several years. I went back to school. I did everything I was “supposed” to do as a mother – feeding, clothing, snuggling, and disciplining. But my heart was far from the work of motherhood and I was always grasping at the old identity I so desperately wanted back. I resented being “just a mom” so I tried to make myself into what I thought was more than that.
I suspect that this is not far from what many other mothers experience. My identity pre-motherhood was all wrapped up in my degree, my job, and my accomplishments. The sad truth is that the world sees very little accomplishment in the work of motherhood. The even sadder truth is that many of us believe the lie the world is telling us.
I look back at the childhood of my son, and I know that what he had was sufficient. But I also see the ways that I was unwilling to give much of myself as his mother. Jesus tells us that there is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for his friends. I was unwilling to lay down my life for my own child. I praise Jesus that His grace is sufficient, and that through all of these things He has taught me much about His desire for mothers and families.
And this is His desire: “Older women likewise are to be reverent in behavior, not slanderers or slaves to much wine. They are to teach what is good and so train the young women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind and submissive to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be reviled” (Titus 2:3-5).
The truth the world doesn’t want us to know is that the work of motherhood is good and right and pure. It is the very definition Jesus gives us for love: laying down our lives for our children. Laying down my own hopes, dreams, and aspirations for the good of my family. Oftentimes, in the poopy-diaper, tantrum-throwing mess of the day it is hard to see the goodness of it all. I struggle all the time with the truth of my identity: am I what I do every day? Or am I a child of the King, privileged to raise His little ones?
As mothers, we must remind ourselves that the work of motherhood (the very, very hard work of motherhood) is a high calling on our lives. God has entrusted us with the care of his precious little children, and I, for one, would not like to mess that up. We must rest in the identity He has given us as His children, not in the identity the world gives us. And we must never stop relying on Him to help us accomplish the job, for “His divine power has granted us all things that pertain to life and godliness” (and motherhood) 2 Peter 1:3.
– Tasha (sister in Christ, wife, mother of four, and neighbor of the South Side)