You will never arrive at becoming the ideal mother of your dreams.
your vision of an ideal mother is sinful…as in, she sins. She messes up. She is fully and completely sin-filled. And yet, so very loved.
Before I became a mother, I had motherhood figured out. I knew exactly what kind of mother I would be, and I knew what I wanted. I had visions for the future that involved pumpkin picking and giggles and bouncing pigtails. Tucking God’s Word diligently into their little hearts daily, studying scripture together, singing and always obedience. I knew I would read to my children for hours on end, and in my daydreams, we were all happy and peaceful. I dreamed of these things because I wanted them. I still do. I just left out one very important part of my dream.
I didn’t consider sin. I didn’t consider my fallen body that is so often tired. I didn’t consider my emotions, my dark days, or my selfish ones. I didn’t consider their dark days or selfish ones. The only thoughts I had about their bad moments had to do with disobedience, and I would swiftly deal with any disobedience. I read books on disciplining and training children. I would be ready for that. But everyday sin? Tiredness? Darkness? The Mundane of it all? The needs, the asks, the energy, the day-in and day-out of it all…I didn’t consider it, because I just didn’t think of it.
And no one told me.
No one told me that there would be days I’d want to hide all day. No one told me I would be so tired some days that all I could do was cry. No one told me that formula’s don’t work very often. No one told me that my selfishness wouldn’t disappear the moment I had children. No one told me I would get depressed sometimes, or feel achingly lonely, or be too tired for sex, or that some days I would feel like I was drowning.
I believe my purpose in life is to be a loving, nurturing, freedom-giving, grace-filled, truth-teaching, mother. I have other purposes, but this, for me, is the big one. So don’t think for one second that I don’t love my children, or that I’m not grateful for them, or that I would ever wish do anything but what I’m doing being with them day-in and day-out. They’re stuck with me; they’re my crew.
But there is a reality that is not beautiful.
Having children means daily being in the mess of sin and immaturity. It is exhausting, painfully stretching, and eye-opening to just how selfish we really are.
It’s all just hard.
But it’s good.
It is so good, because if you dive into that mess with your babes, you have the opportunity to be like Jesus. You can come to the weak and helpless and sinful and hurting and lost and you can love and comfort and nurture and lift up. You can be a freedom-giver.
You’ve just got to come up with another meaning for ideal, and another meaning for beautiful.
Ideal must mean, “Lord, what do you say? Teach me to mother my children within who you made me to be. Help me to hear the Holy Spirit and walk by faith in my mothering.”
Beautiful must mean, “Lord, help me to remember that I am only beautiful because of you, and my children can be beautiful because of you. You take my ugly heart, and my brokenness, and you give me your beautiful self living in me. Never let me forget, and help me to instill this truth into my children daily.”
If you can grasp onto the freedom of Biblical ideals and beauty, if you can accept the reality of sin, you will be able to persevere with confidence and strength in God. It will never be easy, but it will be worth it.
P.S. The giggles, the unique weaving of a soul, the little toes, the cuddles, the jokes, the quirks, the friendship, the fun…it’s sacred, it’s breathtaking, it’s awesome. I love being a mother.
Looking for more encouragement in motherhood? Consider Desperate – Hope for the Mom Who Needs to Breathe, written by me (the mom of little ones knee-deep in the little years) and Sally Clarkson (the mom who has done the work and raised her children well). It’s a book for those who have ever whispered, “I just can’t be a mother today.” Not sure? Read some reviews here.
Would you like to receive Sarah Mae’s articles to your email inbox? Click here!