When I look back at the first few months of motherhood I just laugh (and then feel embarrassed or conviction). Oh the judgements I passed, the self-righteous thoughts, the lack of understanding and the prideful thoughts. It's only been 4 short years of mothering for me - but I've grown and changed so much. I thought I knew it all, I thought I had it all under control and I could do everything and was raising my 3 month old the "right? way.
Now after growing more and having gone through a couple more stages, after God teaching me compassion and understanding for others, after meeting so many other moms and talking about their stories, and after God convicting me of my own sinfulness - I've changed.
Now I know a lot of first time moms don't have this experience with their first babies -but for me - my 3 month old baby boy - was sleeping through the night, I was working from home part time and he was on a good schedule. He wasn't collicky and overall he was a happy baby, although I did have my own issues with breastfeeding. I thought I knew just the right way to get a baby to sleep, I knew just how to get a baby to not be picky, that i knew the right way to have a baby that could sleep anywhere. And I cringe every time I see my old self and the thoughts I had about motherhood.
Then reality of the lack of control us mothers actually do have on our days hit me. My child started waking up random times or not sleeping when I needed him to. He has always been picky about food. Then I had another baby boy come along. Then they were both toddlers at the same time and now I find myself questioning daily if I'm even doing the right thing for them. What should I change to help them more? How can I teach them better? Why is that I''m doing not getting the results I thought I would?
Now I'm a mother claiming the Grace of God daily. Pleading with Him that despite my failings to remain calm, to respond well in situations, to provide a good calm answer - God will be pricking my boys hearts. I have been overwhelmed so many times with how to handle the situation correctly, or what to change to help my 3 year old out. I've been at a loss of what to change or fix or why they are not responding to my tactics.
Now I understand - each mother's personality is different. Each baby is different than the rest. Each household is run differently. Each family is in a new phase or stage of life and that influences/affects how you mother in that instant. I think back at the more experienced mothers that were my friends when I was starting out - and they must have thought I was crazy. I thought i knew it all and that I had all the right answers. And they knew what was coming. But they were gracious enough to not say those things to me. :)
Then I had a miscarriage and whole other sense of understanding came along. My whole view of motherhood was rocked. No longer do I take it for granted. No longer do I let the days pass by where I'm not completely overwhelmed that I have two precious healthy boys that God gave me. My idea of what I wanted my family to look like has been "rocked". I wanted all my kids close in age and before I turned 30. How ridiculous of me to even expect something like that to work out. Now I don't pass judgement on a family that has weird age spans between their kids - I want to ask them their story and hear how they got to where they are.
No longer do I criticize the mother who has a screaming toddler, or the kid who breaks everything in sight. I know they must be feeling what I feel most days. "God, please give me wisdom to handle this, and strength and discipline to stay consistent". That's what I say anyways.
My eyes have been opened to the reality that there are so many different people in the world. So many situations that I don't understand or know - so I have no right to criticize or judge. And although I do believe we have a God-given responsibility to rear our children biblically, teaching them biblical principles and expect certain things from them - We won't all look the same.
I wonder how different I will be in 4 more years? I pray that God will give me wisdom, love and understanding. I pray that people can see my joy in staying home and mothering my children with intentionality - but that it's only b/c of God's gift of Grace in my life. And I pray that most of all - US MOTHERS STICK TOGETHER on this journey that is so unique.
great post, Jess! I also cringe when I think about the first few years, and I imagine I will cringe in 5 more years when I look back on my current stage! God's grace and mercy are so abundant and I'm so thankful for His work in my life as well as my boys' lives!
I think this is my favorite post that you've written - so well said. I could echo exactly. How much God used our children to grow & sanctify us, doesn't He?!
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