This post has been a long time coming. The thought first came up while I was journaling at the end of last school year. Daily time in Scripture has a way of holding a mirror up to my face. Often, what is revealed is not what I want, or expect, to see, and that was certainly the case here. I needed time for this question to sink its way into my heart and start doing some work in my life before I was ready to share.
As I was journaling, I felt this question being asked: Do I see motherhood as a burden or blessing?
At first, I was a little offended that this would even be on my mind. Of course, motherhood is a blessing. I have wanted to be a mom since I was little. I prayed for babies, rejoiced over little pink lines, and love my girls more than I ever thought was humanly possible. I would do anything for them, give everything to ensure their happiness in this world, and single-handedly take down anyone who wished them harm.
But then, I really thought about what the question was asking. Do I live my everyday life like motherhood is a blessing? Or do I really live like it’s a burden?
Do my everyday actions, reactions and interactions, my daily words and attitudes, even my facial expressions show that I believe motherhood is a blessing? When my girls encounter me, are they met with joy, love and patience? The answer to this question was a little, okay, a lot, fuzzier.
Because some days. Oooohh, some days. The days when I wake up to a face in mine before 6 am whisper-shouting, “I need breakfast!” The days when there’s a child on each leg, tugging each hand, yelling, “My mommy! No, my mommy!” The days when dinner needs to be cooked, lunches need to be packed, clothes need to be put away, floors need to be mopped, e-mails need to be sent, deadlines need to be met, and also, “Look at me mama! Watch what I can do mama! Do you see me mommy? Come play with me mommy!”
These are the days when I sigh and grumble and roll my eyes. When I answer every “Mama?” with a frustrated, “What?!” When I find myself yelling to my five-year-old in her room that she needs to stop YELLING AT ME SO MUCH FOR GOODNESS’ SAKE! These are the days when I long to go to the bathroom by myself. Just. One. Time. These are the days when I feel weary and frustrated and burdened, and like maybe I’d like to run away to a tropical island where no one knows my name is “mom.” Just for a little bit.
At first, I felt shame that my kids get so much frustration from me instead of the joy, patience, gentleness, kindness etc. that they should feel from me. I’m not even home with them all day, so why would I be so frustrated in the few precious hours before bedtime? I know that there are women who long to be mothers, who miss these days, or who are dealing with circumstances far more difficult than mine. What is wrong with me that when I have so much to be thankful for, I still feel so burdened?
As thoughts of shame and less-than-ness floated through my mind, I was reminded of a verse from Romans 8:1-2 (NLT). (Emphasis added is mine).
So now there is no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus. And because you belong to him, the power of the life-giving Spirit has freed you from the power of sin that leads to death.
None of this was brought to my attention because God wanted me to feel condemned. He wants to lead me to freedom, and part of that is through journeying to become a better version of myself. There’s a quote from Soren Kierkegaard that I wrote down in my journal around this time that speaks so clearly to this, “Now with God’s help, I shall become myself.”
So I looked squarely in the mirror, and admitted, first of all, that I do not actually have it all together. (Shocking, I know). And this area of my life, what my girls feel from me, how I act in my home, how I portray the amazing love of our Heavenly Father, is one that is very important for me to get right.
As I was praying and thinking about how to actually go about changing this, another verse came to mind.
Since God chose you to be the holy people he loves, you must clothe yourselves with tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. (Colossians 3:12, NLT).
What I really love about this verse is the choice that is inherent in it. It does not say that once you start on this journey of following Christ you’ll immediately be filled with tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, etc. Instead, it commands that we clothe ourselves with these things. I don’t know about you, but I don’t roll out of bed with my clothes already on (although, some days, wouldn’t that just be great?!) I go to the closet, step over all of the shoes that my two year old always pulls out, and choose an outfit.
Just like the choice I daily make of what I am going to wear, I need to choose to put on tenderhearted mercy, kindness, gentleness, patience, and all of the things that will help me wear motherhood as a blessing, and not as a burden.
Does this mean that every day now I am skipping through my home with a smile plastered on my face, an apron tied around my waist and answering my kids with a saccharine-loaded “Whatever you like my dearest child of mine!”? Of course not. There are still tough days. Still frustrated tones of voice. But I’m trying, each day, to choose to clothe myself with the qualities that will show my children how very deeply they are loved by me, because ultimately, I am called to portray the love of our Heavenly Father.
We don’t need to ever feel guilty or frustrated for not measuring up to this high standard either. We just take a deep breath, thank the Lord that His mercies are new every day, and try again tomorrow.
So one more verse, one that has been my favorite for years and is now what I am aspiring to in motherhood. Zephaniah 3:17 (NLT) says this —
For the Lord your God is living among you. He is a mighty savior. He will take delight in you with gladness. With his love, he will calm all your fears. He will rejoice over you with joyful songs.
Like the Lord who loves me (and is, in all things, a perfect parent), I am trying to take great delight in my children, and to rejoice over them. More than anything, I’m writing to remind myself to daily choose to put on tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience, and to hopefully, one choice at a time, transform my wearing of motherhood from a burden to a blessing.
Stay tuned for Part 2 coming soon of some tangible, practical ways I’ve been trying to do this in my family. And please share your thoughts and suggestions in the comments below!