The Tension of Motherhood

Motherhood. It’s hard, it’s beautiful. It’s nothing like I imagined it would be, it’s everything and more than I hoped it would be; and yet- it leaves me feeling defeated regularly.

In motherhood there is a constant tension. It’s knowing that there is so much I could be doing better- should be doing better. Countless areas where my weaknesses and flaws are exposed. My lack of patience, or when I’m tired and frustrated and harsh words seem to jump off my tongue before I can catch them; or even the to-do list that grows faster than my ability to check things off. My failures swirl around in my brain as I watch the time slip away along with my opportunities to do better.

At the exact same time, I know I would lay down my life for each of my children in a heartbeat. My love for them is fierce and overwhelming. I snap photos and videos of their tiny toes and belly giggles because I want to remember them like this forever. I hold them close to me, with their head on my chest. I breathe in their scents deeply, knowing that time is a thief and eventually they won’t care to cuddle with me anymore. I no longer remember the “before”, when I didn’t even know how this motherly love could feel. Did that time ever really exist?

I observe the mothers around me. There are ones that have gone long before me, and know what is to come; who still fall to their knees to pray for their children, though they’ve grown. I can see that the longing of their mothering hearts for their children to be happy, healthy, and to follow Jesus— it will never go away. The anxieties and pressure dim as the responsibility for their child’s life is no longer theirs- but there’s a part of a mother’s heart that will always ache for the good of her child. It’s a strange thing, this kind of love; it’s so pure and wonderful- and at the same time it almost hurts. For some, it even creates tangible anxiety. Despite the ache, we know we wouldn’t trade our children for anything.

I also see the ones that have come after me. How they’re navigating and finding their way through the things I too once navigated. The questions, the uncertainty. The brief but significant moments that I know will be forever imbedded as core memories in their hearts and minds. The kicks and flips in the womb- or perhaps a surge of excitement as they signed on a line to be family forever; the frantic googling of every little change or ailment in the first years, the sleeplessness and the hours spent rocking and comforting. I see their struggles and I see their joy- and I know that someday they’ll miss it as much as I do.

Motherhood is a holy work. It’s a daily exercise of dying to self, in a way that can also lead to us being our best self. Motherhood is sacrificial. Others needs are put before ours; we lose sleep, we miss meals. We set aside our freedom and our wants, even if only for a season. We learn to navigate the line between necessary self care… and selfishness. Not to say we were “selfish” before, but that in our day to day, our natural motivations and decisions mainly pertained to self. And now… so much more must be considered.

Though I have experienced many trials in life that ultimately drew me closer to Jesus, not one of them compares to the way motherhood has required me to lean on Him. The way that it is constant and yet… it is constantly changing; the way that it forces me to look inward and cry out to God “search me!”, because I know I am flawed and can’t do any of this on my own; the way it makes me understand the love of a Heavenly Father in a fresh way that completely wrecks me; the way it humbles me and makes me desire to be better; the way I’m learning to rejoice in my weakness, because of the assurance that HIS power is made perfect in exactly that.

If you’re a mother, then you probably already know all that I’ve just said. It’s a feeling deep in your soul that’s hard to put to words- and we know that we are certainly not alone in the way that we feel. But the journey can be lonely and it can be easy to give the guilt of our shortcomings a little too much of a foothold. So I’m just here to say that your role is beautiful, your love for your children is evident, your prayers over your children are invaluable, and the importance of your job is immeasurable. I pray you’ll find peace in knowing that God is holding them in the palm of His hand, and He will care for our children MORE in our weakness than we could even if we did it in perfection.


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