I originally wrote this devotional for a baby shower (celebrating three new babies at our church) and just modified it slightly to post here.
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I love that as you prepare for a new baby, you think about all the “sweet” things. The clothes and diapers are so little. You need all these silly little things like tiny mittens and tiny nail clippers. There are always amazing new products coming out to research, it’s just almost too fun.
Just last week, I was holding an almost three month old baby from our church (who was also at this shower), and he was just sleeping on me and making little coo-ing noises. I could feel my heart melting a little bit. And I almost said to his mom what I’m sure lots of people say to her (and all of you with littles) all the time - “It goes by so fast, please enjoy it.” I am sure we hear this more often than we even recognize because it becomes white noise to some extent.
I have always found this saying so very hard to hear as a new mom. Being pregnant was exhausting. After that, you have a little person dependent on you for everything - you are responsible for their feeding and helping them sleep, even when they seem confused about both. I was always so tired. When babies and even toddlers are little, it can be so exhausting. I wanted to enjoy it like all these moms were telling me but I often felt like I was doing something wrong.
I just want to level the field for all of us and say that mothering is hard, regardless of what stage you are in.
It’s hard when you have older kids and you look back fondly on the days when they needed you to hold them.
And it’s hard when you have little kids and just longingly want them to be able to go get a snack themselves. (Really, how do these little people want so. many. snacks?)
When we are pregnant or have newborns, there are worthwhile questions and issues: breastfeeding, formula, sleep training, tummy time, solid foods, brain development, organic bedding, vitamins. Our current Pinterest culture has given us much over which to stress.
As our kids get older, we know there are so many things we should be doing. We want to teach our kids the Bible and good theology that will keep them rooted as they grow up. We genuinely want to be serving our families joyfully the way that Paul does in 2 Corinthians 12:15 when he writes “I will most gladly spend and be spent for your souls.” We want to be the kind of people who live our lives in repentance and faith to be a good example for them.
Then when your kids are even older as teenagers and adults, you have the difficult task of still being a mother to someone who is more independent and has completely different needs.
So while it is hard work, I truly want to encourage you with why it is also good work.
First, I think it’s good because it tells us something about God, our Father.
God is using our current situations, like the painful pregnancies, the sleepless nights, or the stress of knowing what is next for our kids, for our good and his glory.
Some things are very painful and we will never understand on Earth why God allowed them to occur. Other things are just annoying in the moment. Regardless, we do know that our trials and our pruning (like Jesus talks about in John 15:2) is uniquely ours from a God who loves us individually and is near to the broken-hearted (Psalm 34:18).
Second, I think it’s good to acknowledge it is hard because it points us to Jesus.
As we experience the reality that life is hard, we remember that our lives aren’t supposed to be easy. Instead, our lives are supposed to be cross-shaped and all about Jesus.
Jesus served sacrificially and that is what we as Christians are called to do as well.
“We follow Christ, who laid down his life in order to nurture our lives. Serving others from a position of personal weakness is embarrassing for us prideful people.
We like to be seen as sufficient. We enjoy admiring glances. We brush off compliments of, “Wow. How do you do it?” but we relish those words and play them back in our minds.
Distinctly Christian mothering is done from a posture of weakness and dependence. We nurture life in the face of death by grace through faith in Jesus. The cross is everything to us - not a bonus prize or safety net.
He has given us a cross-shaped, everyday ministry of mothering others, and he has redeemed us out of the futile ways that we used to mother. We don’t mother in order to obtain forgiveness, but we mother out of our forgiven-ness…"
It’s this freedom in Christ that can make our mothering sweet.
We don’t have to get it all right. We don’t need to pretend that we have it all together all the time.
We can be real with one another as moms to point each other to these realities. We can be honest with our kids as well so that we can reflect on and grow in the amazing grace that we have received together.