As readers of this blog know, I recently acquired a new role as “mom.” As God would ordain it, shortly after I received this title, several of my friends became first-time mommies too. As a result, I have had many conversations, Facebook messages, texts and emails with questions, frustrations and sheer confusion as we travel this road together. I thought it might be helpful to put share some of what I’ve learned for other followers of Christ who are starting this journey or who anticipate doing so in the future. Perhaps the fact that it’s not brand-new to me, yet I’m not far removed from the initial induction either, gives me a different perspective than most have on this subject. If nothing else, I’m sure it will give me something to look back on and laugh about in the years ahead.
Dear New Mom:
Welcome to the craziest roller coaster ride that you will likely ever experience. If your little one has been on this Earth for at least 24 hours, you are probably already aware that motherhood isn’t exactly like what you anticipated. In a short amount of time this new role can take you on more twists and turns than a high-speed racetrack. You will likely experience some of the greatest thrills of your life as a result of this new responsibility, and at the same time, you will likely face some of your biggest doubts and fears. If you are in one of those times where the doubts seem to outweigh the joys, let me assure you, it does get better. It’s not that the questions won’t persist – they will, or new ones will appear – but in the midst of wondering whether you are doing it right, your little one will give you a charmed smile that makes you realize it’s all worth it.
You’ve probably already faced the question that every new mother is asked – “how is it going?” It’s a loaded question because everyone expects to hear your litany of reasons why you love being a mom. Yet sometimes those reasons can be obscured by the enormity of the task. If you’re like me, the first few weeks of taking on this new job are harder than you imagined. But you don’t want to say that. Otherwise people may think that you don’t recognize what an awesome privilege you have been given. It’s o.k. You can both acknowledge that it’s hard and be grateful that God saw fit to give you this opportunity. Those two things aren’t mutually exclusive, regardless of how people respond. The sleepless nights, the dependence that your little one has on you, the concern over each new development and whether it’s “normal,” combined with a tidal wave of hormones that are rushing through your body – these things are not easy. But remember this – even if there are moments where you think you can’t handle it – God didn’t call you to this role expecting that you would do it all on your own. He called you to this ministry with the desire that you would depend upon Him to accomplish what He has called you to do. There are days where you will wonder if you are good enough – you aren’t. But He is. And as you rely on Him, He will provide you with the grace, wisdom, strength and fortitude you need to be who He desires you to be as you parent this little life.
You may have already forgotten what your life was like before your little one arrived. It’s amazing how quickly they integrate themselves. It is true what they say – your life will never be the same. While eventually your little one will learn to sleep through the night, and you will again too, restlessness will now accompany your nighttime dreams. If you were a heavy sleeper before you became a mom, you can probably kiss that goodbye. Your child’s cry will quickly disabuse you of the ability to block out any sound in order to count sheep. You’ve also probably realized that being a mom means that your life is now about sacrifice. Motherhood is great at revealing those areas of your life that you thought were “yours” – those things that are supposed to be under your control and are not to be messed with. Your schedule, your preferences, and your proclivities are now subjugated to the development of this little life. Privacy is probably a thing of the past, at least for quite a while, as any mom whose toddler has stuck their fingers under the bathroom door can tell you. It’s o.k.; your Savior gave up a lot more on your behalf (Phil. 2:7). While sometimes the lessons are hard, be grateful that God has used this new responsibility to conform you more into the image of your Son. He could have used a different role, something that didn’t come with a child’s love and affection.
I would hate for you to think that being a mom is all about giving things up though – you also gain a lot. You will garner a new appreciation for the love that your Father has for you as you realize in a new way what it meant for Him to sacrifice His Son on your behalf (Jn. 3:16). You will also probably quickly learn to take things in stride more; your little one will change so much from day-to-day that you quickly learn that there are a lot of things in life that aren’t permanent so it’s best to concentrate on those things that will have eternal significance. You will also get adept at multi-tasking in ways that you probably didn’t expect; you will be amazed at what you can accomplish in the short spurts that your child naps. And if you are blessed to be married to a man who is a great dad, your love for him will grow even stronger as you get a front-row seat to watching him train up your child according to God’s ways. Your life won’t be the same, it’s true; and you will be so grateful for that fact.
As with any ministry that God gives us, there are good days and tough days when it comes to being a mom. However, as with any ministry the most important thing to remember is that being a mom is not about you. Your job as a parent is to put God’s glory on display – both in how you parent and in the way you respond to the challenges that it throws at you. When you don’t know what to do you will be tempted to seek wisdom from a lot of places – your mom, the Internet, friends and strangers that have walked the road before. However, while they may have good advice, make sure that the first place you go is to the One who created the life that you’ve been entrusted with. While others may be parents, God called you to parent this child. And your child is not the same as mine. Let motherhood draw you into a deeper dependence upon your Heavenly Father. Seek His wisdom and His help as you walk the road that He has set before you. He is the One who has called you to this task, and He is the One who can best equip you for it.
Finally, remember this, while you always be a mom, you only have a limited time to parent your child. Make the most of that time. Be intentional and diligent about telling your child about Christ. Pray for your child and pray with them. Model for them what it means to be a Christ follower, and talk with them about it too. Your child will learn a lot from you; at the end of the day, make sure you have taught them what is most important.
Welcome to mommyhood, dear one. It’s a wild ride for sure. But thankfully, if you are a child of the King, it’s not one that you ride alone.