Regarding motherhood, everyone has advice. Most of the time, I just smile and nod, grateful that people love us enough to tell me what they think is best for us. Don’t eat this while you’re pregnant. Don’t sleep on your right side–Baby will suffocate. Buy this car seat. Breastfeed. Organic vegetables are safest. Don’t get an ultrasound. Get an ultrasound. Get an epidural. Take this brand of prenatal vitamins. Co-sleep. Let them cry it out. Don’t spank. Don’t use disposable diapers–they’re laden with chemicals. I could go on and on… and on…
I hear so much advice, but when it comes down to it, I am the mother. For some reason, the Lord picked Steven and I to oversee this little one’s childhood. What an honor, to be entrusted with something as important as childhood. I am humbled and thankful. I am also sure that God has equipped me to decide on a crib, among other important decisions. I know that my Father is good, that He knows this child better than I ever will, that He is concerned about our tiny, beautiful lives. For that reason, I move forward with confidence. I abandon a spirit of timidity, and the advice rains around me like rice on my wedding day–a mostly-left-behind reminder of how much I am loved.
I am one lucky duck–there are lots of good mommies in my life who are supportive and inspiring. I have observed, and am beginning to feel, the pressure to “get it right.” The phenomenal mothers closest to me battle the constant inkling that they’re failing at motherhood, yet offer such golden love to their little ones, and consistently come back to victory in Christ. Day by day, 3 AM feeding by 3 AM feeding, moment by moment, they return to the truth that sustained them when they were single, when they were newlywed, when they yearned for a child, when they yearned for peace and quiet, and finally when they yearned to see their grown-up and gone babies on holidays–that God is on the throne, and He is good. Their methods vary, but the best ones have one thing in common: they own their imperfection. Sometimes kiddos show up with their pants on backward. Sometimes they decide to prolong potty training. Sometimes they stick carrots up their noses or say rude things to company. The best mommies consider discipline and love to be one and the same, and laugh off the things that don’t matter. After all, what does it really hurt to wear one’s pants backward at the age of 3?
In a culture of motherhood that currently sells organic, pesticide-free, and nutritionally-perfected baby food and analyzes the chemical content of the nursery paint, fear too often reigns supreme over well-intentioned mothers. When we lay on our death beds, for that day will inevitably come for both myself and (I hope) centuries from now for the baby I carry, I hope my children are gathered around me remembering with joy the childhood I was able to contribute to. And I am sure, beyond any shadow of a doubt, that they will not recall how carefully I selected their baby food and protected them from every evil chemical. They will remember how much I loved them, the owies I kissed away, the conversations about Jesus, the freedom I so fearfully granted them when they flew the nest. They will remember the things that I did, not to keep them alive, for we all die, but the things I did to help them thrive.
Motherhood is a spiritual endeavor, for the Enemy hates life. He perverts sexuality as less than intimacy, pleasure, and procreation when he oversees the deeds of rapists, pimps, and pornographers. He relishes cancer and heart disease, thinking he’s gained the last laugh when we go down to the grave. He laughs at the deaths of millions of little lives each year, swooping in as the accuser of the deceived and bereaved mother as soon as the abortion is finished. It is no wonder mothers walk such a battle ground each day they share their bodies with their growing babies, each day they offer their time and energy in the rearing of a child, each day they consider the well-being of their children over their own. The Enemy hates how we serve in the hidden moments, and hungers for our demise. He loves it when we feel ill-equipped for the task appointed to us. He whispers lies in our ears, coaxing us to concentrate on the magnitude of motherhood, rather than the magnitude of our Father.
He hates motherhood because it glimmers as a facet of the character of Christ–the part of Him that pulled the children into a place of importance and said, “Let the little children come unto me.” Let them come and make a mess. Let them come and make noise. Let them come and knock our ducks out of a row. Let them reveal my gentleness, my goodness, my perfect discipline, my adequacy, my love for life. These little ones, whose prayers the Father bends to hear and whose abusers await the horrifying wrath of God reserved especially for those who would “cause one of these little ones to stumble”–these are who we’ve been entrusted with.
To the weary mothers, be blessed today as you take up your swords and shields in a most important battle.