When Being a Mom Is Just Not Enough
It's been 445 days since I first held that tiny body, the baby girl entrusted to me. My daughter. On that day I stepped into the active role of being her mother, a role that could never be erased or changed. I'm forever a mom.
It's what I've always wanted to be.
And yet lately I've been feeling this deep, painful restlessness, like I've been bogged down by the routine of it all for so long that the thought of another day -- day 446 of God-knows-how-long -- of the early waking, loud whining, food throwing, diaper changing, nap fighting, breastfeeding, stroller pushing, bath filling, mess cleaning, and bedtime rocking threatened to permanently send me into a Netflix-binging coma.
When this attitude of dread -- even hopelessness -- began to surface, I started to ask myself some pretty important questions. Questions like: What if I don't want to stay home with the kid all day? What if I'd rather write and read and do yoga and organize my closet than sit and play with my one-year-old? What if I'd like to go back to my pre-parent college-aged self? Back when our money was spent on dates rather than diapers?
And the big question that I kept coming back to, the one at the root of it all, was this: what if being a mom is just not enough for me anymore?
It wasn't that I wanted to quit being a stay-at-home mom or that I just needed to find a hobby (although it'd be nice if it were that simple). It was so much more than that. I had been missing that sense of purpose, before all the diaper-changing and nose-wiping. I missed the applause and appreciation that comes from doing good work, things that I know my toddler can't yet give to me. I missed deadlines, as crazy as it sounds. And the freedom. But most of all, I just wanted to go back to those sweet early days of having a newborn, when it didn't matter that everyday was more of the same because I was just madly in love with this precious babe. How amazing it would be to feel on day 445 the way I felt on day one.
But even though I do still miss all of those things, I don't feel the same hopelessness and restlessness as before. My attitude shifted when I finally dared to bring these questions and doubts before the Lord. And that one question in particular changed everything.
What if being a mom is just not enough for me anymore?
"It was never supposed to be."
In all of the hustle and bustle of motherhood, I somehow forgot that I'm more than just a mom. I am a wife. Daughter. Friend. Servant. Encourager. Writer. Thinker. And most importantly, a follower of Jesus Christ.
I had mistakenly fallen into the belief that motherhood is my end goal. But it's not.
Bringing glory and worship to Jesus by living an eternity-minded, joy-filled life spent in his presence is.
I expected motherhood to fulfill me, to be my everything -- my dream, my hope, my strength, my happiness. And the truth is that even if I'm a good mother, a great one even, being a mom can't hold a candle to the adventure that is knowing, experiencing, and walking with Jesus.
Being a mom is not enough. It's one of the mediums through which I have most grown in my faith, a season that has propelled me closer to the Lord and brought me to my knees in prayer more times than I could count. But if being a mom is all I think I'm living for, I'm going to miss the rest. Like the woman who's in need of some kind words from a friend. The healing that can only be found in the secret place. The pull towards that unbelieving family member. The ministry God is calling us to pour into. The joy that comes from pursuing creative passions. The late-night conversations that sweeten our marriage.
I have been so busy giving my all to my child that I've forgotten to give my all to Jesus. I've forgotten that He is the source of abundant life. It's no wonder I've been feeling so empty and depleted.
Do you ever feel the same way?
It's so easy for us to label ourselves and to allow ourselves to be confined by routine and obligation. But here's the truth I hope you leave with today. You may have a child. But you also are a child. A daughter of the King. And that means every day is not just about changing diapers, picking up toys, and wiping sticky hands (although it sure does feel like it at times). Every day is an opportunity to see the Lord's beauty. To find the glorious in the mundane. To be stretched in difficult ways. To seek the Lord's will. To learn through trial. To surrender. To trust. To love and be loved. To praise and dance and sing.
Maybe this year you are meant to discover a new calling, something you never imagined in your wildest dreams. Maybe a relationship in your life will challenge you and teach you to love more like Jesus. Maybe you will find a ministry, a place where your passions and gifts meet. Or maybe you will simply meet with the Lord every day in this season of staying home with the little ones and grow in ways you never thought possible.
There's no need to figure it all out now. Things have a way of slowly unfolding as we walk with the Lord. The important thing is that we never forsake or forget the truth of who we are, the many facets of our being often put on the back burner in our pursuit of being a great mom. The very things that could make us even greater moms if we'd only let them.
There's a passage in John where Jesus describes us as branches connected to a vine. He says, "I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful. You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you. Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me" (John 15:1-4, emphasis mine).
The hopelessness that can come from being worn down by the daily routine of motherhood is real. The desperation that moms feel when each day is more of the same, with little being seen or acknowledged or appreciated, is a scary thing. Many of us know it personally, even if only for a brief time.
But what if the problem isn't so much that motherhood is boring or laborious or back-achingly hard, but that we've been clinging so much to this label of "mom" that we've forgotten how to remain attached to the Vine? How much sweeter would the pruning be if we were to stop looking at our lives through only the lens of motherhood and were to instead look at our lives through the eyes of our good Father? If we were to remember that we were beautifully crafted and ordained by Him to bear good fruit and not just to be a good mom?
Everything would be different. Sure, our daily lives would look the same from the outside looking in. More early waking, loud whining, food throwing, diaper changing, nap fighting, breastfeeding, stroller pushing, bath filling, mess cleaning, and bedtime rocking.
But the heart change that comes from remaining in Him, the passion that bursts forth as we pursue the Lord in prayer, the meaning and significance found in seemingly mundane moments all because we're finally listening... that's an amazing adventure many moms only dream of. And it doesn't have to be just a dream.
He's accessible. Available. Willing. Longing. Ready to take you on that adventure if you'd only say "yes."
My prayer is that you put your "yes" on the table today. That you rediscover hope and joy in day-to-day motherhood as you seek the Lord this coming year. That He shows you new things about yourself and your identity that no diaper blowout or tantrum can take away. And that this new way of living, the only way of abundant living, transforms you into the mom you've always hoped you would be.
Happy New Year, mama. I'm believing 2018 has some great things in store.