Tonight I’m sitting with my computer while my kids are eating noodles and butter for the 4th time this week and I wish I could actually just call you on the phone to chat. Or better yet, get you your own cup of tea and invite you to join me on the couch.
There are lots of things on my mind, and I just would love to chat about them with a girlfriend.
Like this motherhood business. Oh, I have so many thoughts lately about this motherhood business. This week, especially, I’ve felt the tension in my heart.
Sometimes I wonder if you wrestle with this like I do. Sometimes I wonder if I’m the only one who struggles to find contentment in just being a mom.
(Ooh. That feels wrong to even say out loud.)
(But I’m guessing I’m not the only one.)
Some days I wonder if I should be doing more with my life. Other days I know that mothering these little ones is the absolute most important thing I could be doing right now. I simultaneously feel like my job as a mom is important and also insignificant. And that’s where the tension rests.
Here’s the deal. I was perpetually single until I met Jon (at 24). I had dreams of marriage and family, but those weren’t happening anytime soon (really, I talked to maybe 5 guys in my whole life before Jon), so I went to school. I was good at school. I earned praise for school. I got a degree to start teaching school. I felt accomplished there, like I was making a difference and people noticed and valued me.
And then I met Jon, and we got married, and we had a baby, and I got to be a stay-at-home mom = dream accomplished. Check!
I love being a mom. I have always wanted to be a mom. But surprisingly (to me at least), there has always been a part of me that doesn’t quite fit into motherhood. I used to think it was the part of me that spent 25 years training for something other than being a mother.
But lately, I think that the part of me that has the hardest time with motherhood is the part of me that spent 25 years defining myself by public validation.
All that time I spent working hard for grades, for awards, for a job offer, for a pat on the back… none of that means anything in motherhood.
Motherhood isn’t about how hard I can work or how much I can accomplish or how high I can climb.
Motherhood isn’t about me at all.
Motherhood is about laying down my life for my children, like Christ did for us. The roots of motherhood are grounded deep in humility and selflessness and considering others more important than myself.
Motherhood asks me to trade in my drive for productivity for a desire to be present. It asks me to set aside my to-do list so I can fully listen. It all but strips me of my rights, and makes me into a servant without ever asking me if that’s what I wanted to be.
I can spend a lifetime resenting that. Or I can look at what my Savior did for me, and consider it joy to follow in His footsteps.
Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.Philippians 2:3-10
And there it is.
Isn’t THIS the end goal of the Christian? Not spending my life pursuing my own greatness, but stepping aside so others can see how great God is? Not building a name for myself on the things that I’ve done, but exalting His name and what He’s done?
If not for motherhood, I would still be pursuing a my own desires, full speed ahead. I would still be working tirelessly for accolades and validation. I would be riddled with selfish ambition and conceit. I know myself. I just would be.
Motherhood doesn’t even give me the option for that.
The dolls and the legos and the tantrums and the backtalk and the long days and the thankless nights and the diapers and the fighting and the fevers… Motherhood requires me to set myself aside over and over and over again.
It is the hardest thing I’ve ever done.
But the more I lean into the truth of what motherhood requires, the more freely I give myself to the work of raising my children, the looser I cling to those things that I once defined myself by. Even motherhood itself.
Because I’m learning that God cares less about what I’m doing, and more about who I’m becoming, in Him.
Motherhood doesn’t define me.
It’s sanctifying me.
And on the hard days, when I end up exhausted on the couch, while my kids noodles and butter for the 4th time this week, I remember why this is the most important and significant thing I’ll ever do.
Because, out of all the people in the world, God made me their mom. He blessed me with their beautiful, joyful, wild little lives, and He gave me the job of raising them to know Him, and to understand what He’s done for them.
I’m writing this reminder to myself tonight as much as I’m writing to you. You’re doing a good work, momma. The conversations we have and the prayers we pray and the tears we wipe away may never be seen by the masses. But they are not insignificant.
They are eternal.
He tends his flock like a shepherd: He gathers the lambs in his arms and carries them close to his heart; he gently leads those that have young.