Wouldn’t it be great if we could live our lives backwards as mothers? What if we could live life already knowing all the lessons we learned along the way? Think how much simpler life would be! It’s like knowing where to put your feet, one step at a time. Oh how we long to have all the answers so that we can be the best moms in the world. Where is that magic wand when you need one? Unfortunately, we can’t live life backwards, beginning at the end.
The role of a mother is filled with many unknowns. The days simply don’t unfold the way we anticipate and then we find that we are filled with frustration, guilt and the feeling of failure. We really can be our own worst enemy.
Before our first child was born, I pictured myself as being a confident, capable mother, flawlessly meeting my child’s needs by cuddling and comforting them. I was going to be the perfect mom. Silly me.
My picture perfect imagine was shattered within moments of becoming a mother.
I couldn’t stop him from crying, which seemed to be most of the time. I couldn’t stop the selfish infant nature driving his every want and need from consuming him. I couldn’t make him adhere to a nap or bedtime schedule. I couldn’t, I couldn’t, and I couldn’t. Many times I felt inadequate, alone, and desperate to find an answer to what I thought as an insurmountable problem. I needed help.
Through the years, I’ve learned that being a mother means not only living with the unknowns of motherhood, but also trusting what I do know about being a mother in the midst of those unknowns.
I have summarized the main points that I have learned after many trials, failures, and of course, a few triumphs sprinkled in along the way as follows:
My marriage needs to be on solid ground if I am to succeed as a wife and thrive as a mother
It is quite impossible to do otherwise. I found in the Bible that my top priority as a woman is to love God first and then secondly, to love my husband. This order is vital to a healthy marriage.
Mark 12:30 – “And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.”
Colossians 3:23-24 – “And whatever you do, do it heartily as to the Lord and not to men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance, for you serve the Lord Christ.”
Ephesians 5:22-23 – “Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church, and he is the savior of the body.”
As a wife, I am called to be a helper and a blessing to my husband, and submit to his authority. It is important to remember, however, that when God declares someone to be in a position of authority, they are also accountable before God as a result. God never grants authority without accountability. This accountability comes with a price. By design, the husband is answerable to God for his authority within the marriage and what he does with it.
At a bible study at my church, we were all asked to list reasons why we first fell in love and made the decision to marry our husbands. Wow, what a fun exercise I thought. I can remember those first feelings – so overwhelming, exciting and intense! Let’s see – I remember thinking how smart he was, how handsome he appeared and what a great smile he had, he was fun to be around and of course, that he loved the Lord. The next question was to list what you love about your husband today. My answers were much different . Right at the forefront I put the security in knowing that he loves me and our children. This is a huge one for me. Then after thinking more about it, I put down that he delights in the simple things that I do as a wife and mother (that always gives me a chuckle). He leads by example. He loves the Lord and desires to please Him daily. He’s a little crazy at times to the glee of other family members and our golden retriever. See, my priorities have changed. He is still as handsome as ever, but what is more important to me now (as a seasoned wife and mother) is what I discovered in the depths of his heart. Here is where I found a refuge, a safe harbor, and gained the strength, the courage and the confidence to become the best mother and wife that I could be.
God called me to be a mother, as He has called you as well
God gave us our precious children as part of His divine plan for them and for us. It is without a doubt an awesome privilege and a tremendous responsibility.
What does this look like? We are called to train up a child according to their individual bent or determination. We are called to educate the whole child – intellectually, spiritually, culturally and emotionally. This is clearly stated in Proverbs 22:6, “Train up a child in the way he should go and when is his old he will not depart from it.” To train up has two meanings. The first refers to placing a rope around a horse’s mouth to give it direction as it is being broken. Our children are born with a selfish bent. They need correction and guidance to make them stand tall and straight on their own. The second meaning of “to train up” involves creating a desire or passion for something. Children need direction that will lead to good and fruitful passions in their lives: a passion towards God, a passion for a vocation in life, a passion for caring for others. This is part of our role as mothers. These two types of training are completely different, but both are necessary. It is our responsibility as mothers to find out what makes our children unique, and then help mold and shape them into everything God intended them to become. This is an enormous responsibility entrusted to us.
My words and my actions do matter
Our children and our husbands are like sponges, soaking up everything that we say or do. Charles R. Swindoll says it perfectly in his book, Growing Strong in Family Life.
There is no more influential or powerful role on earth than a mother’s. As significant as political, military, educational, or religious figures may be, none can compare to the impact made by mothers. Their words are never fully forgotten, their touch leaves an indelible impression, and the memory of their presence lasts a lifetime.
What an incredible influence we mothers have over the lives of our children!
How are we doing?
Do you need a time out to reset the clock on your words and actions as a mother? Then take it. Remember, mothers are fallible too, not just our children! We all make mistakes, but thank goodness our children are resilient. It makes me cry a bit even now, over the memory of a very bad day years ago when, as the housework seemed overwhelming, the boys were fighting over something silly and I was yelling at them to stop, that my little boy, noticing how distraught I had become, came over and gave me a hug. It just melted my heart right then and there.
God gives us the privilege, the joy and the responsibility as a mother to carry and nurture our children until they reach adulthood. When our little children are in our loving arms, we can protect them and carrying them to places we want them to go. But when they grow up, they no longer fit in our arms.
As they become adults, we love them just as deeply as when they were all-dependent on us. But then we must transfer them over to God. This transfer is an ongoing process that involves taking one step at a time. We are to entrust our children to His care and be available when they need us.
Because our role as mothers lasts a lifetime.
Carefree, she stepped into the sunlight,
Her face uplifted to the sun.
While I, aware of brewing storms that etched the sky,
Clutched at a fear and nursed it.
Then I saw her hand outstretched like a small child;
And while I watched,
Another Hand reached down and clasped it.
I heard the distant thunder with a smile.
By Ruth Bell Graham, Sitting by My Laughing Fireplace