Being a mum is the hardest thing I’ve done, but this is how it has shaped me
I was never one of those who dreamed of having many children or who felt that having a picture-perfect family would be #lifegoals.
I only knew I wanted to grow up to be a writer. That was as far as my aspirations went. At some point, I might have even declared that I wasn’t really a “kid person”.
When I got married at 24, having kids wasn’t at the top of my priority list because I was still young.
It was only after three years that I finally got pregnant. By that time, the maternal instincts had also kicked in, and I looked forward to a new season in my life as a family of three.
But even all of that couldn’t prepare me for the huge responsibility that fell upon my shoulders.
It was a steep learning curve, right from the three-hour cycles of breastfeeding and diaper changing to deciphering the cries of a newborn… not to mention the lack of sleep and everything else that comes with keeping a baby alive.
It didn’t help that many of my peers were still dating or just starting to think about marriage at that time, so it was easy to feel lonely in my struggles as a young parent.
The journey of motherhood had truly begun – and it would be one marked with a lot of sacrifice and self-doubt.
GIVEN FOR OUR GOOD
Seven years and two babies later, there are still many questions that I don’t have the answers to.
How do I get them to sleep better? How can I motivate them to do this? How do I discipline them for this?
I often wished my daughters came with a manual.
But I’ve also come to understand that just as important as the “how” is the “why”.
As much as we have been blessed with children to nurture and this chance to leave a positive legacy on the next generation, they have also been given to us for our good.
In my own life, this personal growth has ranged from practical life skills such as learning how to cook, to inward attitudes such as becoming less self-centred and self-conscious because I now have needs to put above my own.
My husband and I have also been challenged to improve the way we communicate and work as a team.
Gary Thomas, author of one of my favourite books on parenting, puts it this way: “Parenting is a school for spiritual formation – and our children are our teachers.”
Being a mum has been like gazing into a mirror and seeing more clearly my own faults. There have been so many times that I’ve been confronted by how ugly my behaviour can be when overwhelmed by fatigue and frustration.
But if God’s desire for those who love Him is that they mature and become more like Christ, then I believe motherhood is a means through which such transformation can take place.
“We must see parenting as a process through which God purifies us – the parents – even as He shapes our children.
“This extensive purifying involves ‘everything that contaminates body and spirit’ . This takes us far beyond the obvious ‘physical’ sins and into the more hidden contaminations of jealousy, fear, bitterness, pride, control and possessiveness…
“Parenting will lead us to confront spiritual sins that we never even knew existed. It will point out inner weaknesses that we saw as strengths. It will reveal holes big enough to drive our SUVs through.”
– Sacred Parenting by Gary Thomas
While parenting, we make many daily decisions to die to self. But what if losing parts of ourselves is not necessarily a bad thing (Ephesians 4:22-24)?
What if having children could help us to grow?
EXPERIENCING LOVE IN NEW WAYS
In our home, there is an ongoing battle of the wills.
As soon as my daughters became toddlers and realised they had the freedom to choose, “no” became a popular word. As you can imagine, this has led to much friction.
Over the years, my patience has never been stretched so thin. My self-control has never been so sorely tested. At times, I’ve even doubted if my love was even enough.
And then I realised it wasn’t enough.
During those moments as I wondered how I could continue to love even in the face of disappointment, God reminded me of how much He loves me even when I’ve been disobedient.
How I’ve broken His heart when I’ve sinned, and yet how He mercifully forgives and longs for the relationship between us to be restored.
Having children has helped me to know the heart of our Heavenly Father on a deeper level.
In being a full-time working mum, I’ve also had to deal with mum guilt and confront the big questions of life.
What is my current assignment that God is calling me to do? Should I give up my job to stay home? What lessons am I teaching my girls by balancing the needs of the family with the things that I’m passionate about?
These are tough questions that have driven me closer to God as I seek out answers.
As a mum, I constantly feel like I’m not enough. But all of this has encouraged me to lean on God, especially when I fail or fall short.
“But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.” (2 Corinthians 12:9)
I don’t think anyone is ever fully ready to be a parent. It’s simply a commitment that you choose over and over every day when you wake up – just like marriage.
And it is by God’s grace that I’ve been able to come this far and witness my two beautiful daughters growing up.
Motherhood might seem scary, but sometimes the hardest things to do are the things that are most worth doing.
This Mother’s Day, I’m thankful for the opportunity to be a mum. To all mothers out there, let’s remember that as much as our children need us, we need them too.
We gave birth to our kids, but they can also birth something new in us.
THINK + TALK
- Why is it important for believers to mature in Christ?
- What areas are you being stretched in today?
- How do you think these challenges can lead to growth?