Motherhood has to be the hardest role I have ever played. It is full of such a broad spectrum of emotions that sometimes hit all at one time…which can make for a volatile and very exhausting day. Being a mother is such a heavy and scary responsibility. A responsibility that I do love, but sometimes brings me to my knees in pain.
Imaging the pressure of knowing you are the sole reason for the existence of a life form. I mean, sure, dad contributed to the very beginning of that little life, and of course God breathed the breath of life, but mom is carrying that life and growing that life through formation and into being. Without that mom’s womb and body with her blood flow and nutrition that baby never would have an opportunity at life and future. What a great responsibility and gift God has trusted us with. What a miraculous body he has formed us to have. And what a frightening realization.
That pressure and responsibility does not subside after that baby is born. It just changes. We are still responsible for the physical nutrition and growth of that child, but now we are responsible for creating socially and emotionally functioning adults. Even at the youngest age, everything we are teaching, coaching, and guiding them on will be for the ultimate purpose of them being a good, decent adult person in their future.
Our society has made that so hard on us now. When I was growing up I think the worst things I had to deal with on a personal level was heartbreak over a boyfriend, stress over making good grades, and the occasional struggle of fitting in. I dealt with some eating issues after a really difficult breakup, but my faith won out on that. I came to the decision that grades weren’t EVERYTHING and so I would let a few slip here and there just for the sake of enjoyment and sanity. And despite being the only PK I knew in school, I still had a great solid group of friends that didn’t leave me feeling completely lonely. I did not have a rough childhood or unmanageable teenage years. Not that there were not problems and that kids didn’t deal with heavy stuff…it just happened that I personally did not and I didn’t have any friends that really did. So I don’t understand how I possibly could have been prepared for the role and pressures of motherhood that I find myself in today.
I am now the lucky mother of 3 teenagers (insert eye roll here.) One handsome boy and two gorgeous girls. That alone should be frightening enough as it is! I did everything I thought was right in raising my children. They were raised in church. I taught them to believe in God and to love Jesus. They do. They respect God’s house and they respect God’s word. They have been taught to behave and to be respectful…and they are. I have very polite kids. I used to love just sitting or laying with them curled up on me humming or singing to them. My favorite was having them in worship service with me and singing with them in my arms. Even when we went somewhere that a nursery was available I held onto my kids. I wanted them in the middle of the worship experience. I taught all of my kids their alphabet, to count, their address and how to write their own name before they started kindergarten. I chaperoned field trips and visited on classroom party days. I devoted hours to ADHD research and homeopathic, holistic remedies and made so many modifications so many times. I worked a full time job in addition to my husband’s so that we could have just that much more to provide a more comfortable life with a few extras here and there. I eventually took on full time college in hopes of opening a door for a more promising future career. Everything I have done from the moment my first child was born, I did with them and their future in mind. I did it to impact their lives in a positive way and to give them happy, healthy, fearless opportunities.
Now I’m lucky to get a hug in passing or sit in the same pew with them in a service. Now I cry myself to sleep some nights because I don’t know if my son will even graduate high school. Now I carry around a gut wrenching pit of fear in my stomach that one day I might get that call that my daughter has hurt herself…or worse. Now I worry about their souls because I don’t know their true faith and spiritual hearts.
I’m just gonna be real here. That pressure and responsibility of nurture and growth that I had in the beginning has turned into an excruciating burden of guilt, fear, and regret. Those choices I made to work and go to school I second guess every day now because it took me away from my kids both physically and mentally and I see the impact. What I thought I was doing to help my family and to be an example of hard work and achievement, I fear has actually created a void and disconnect in our relationship. All those times I couldn’t be home to help with homework or wasn’t engaged enough to see that there was genuine emotional distress has me feeling like I dropped the ball. Has me feeling like I did too much that turned out to really be too little. Has me feeling like I have failed.
Childhood and teenage hood is nothing today like it was when I was growing up…and I’m not that old! My kids have already gone through things that I still have yet to face as an adult. I won’t go into detail about the things they have dealt with, and are probably still dealing with on a personal level, because their stories are not my stories to tell. But when you have to take your then just barely teenage daughter to the funeral of a friend who committed suicide, you know you are dealing with different demons and a new age.
As I sit here at the end of this Mother’s Day my heart is heavy and my spirit is unsettled. While I am full of love and joy for the precious gift God has bestowed on me, I am also crushing under uncertainty and fear. I do not take lightly the responsibility I have as a mother and it is because of that I worry. They are the reason I do everything I do. Even if it may not seem to immediately or directly impact them, I still think of how it could have an indirect influence on their future. I think of how it could change their lives.
I pray for my children every day. I pray for my husband as a father every day. And I pray for myself as a mother every day. I can’t change the past. I can’t redo my choices. I can only make better choices in the futre. I can only pray that my children (eventually) see the value and the care behind the choices that I did make. I can try to trust that they will be able to identify with the reasons behind my decisions and actions. I can only hope that they look up to me as an example and see me as a strong woman, a Godly woman, a woman with incredible faith.
I have recently shared with complete transparency about the almost loss of my marriage in hopes that someone else can find comfort and connect in that. I share my heart tonight for the same reason. Being a mother is a hard and heavy responsibility. But God must have known that as women we could handle it. Of course He knew…He created us to handle it! I wouldn’t trade it for anything in the world. So just know that if you are struggling with a heaviness and a burden, that you are not alone. And just as I pray for myself to be a stronger, wiser, Godlier mother, I pray for you as well.
Happy Mother’s Day