For those of you who know me, you know that my husband and I do not yet have kids. We definitely want children one day, and Lord willing, I hope that we will have a few. Although I am not yet a mom, I do recognize that many of you are, and motherhood is a topic we have not yet approached together on here, mostly because I cannot speak from personal experience. I have, however, been blessed to not only have an incredible mother of my own, but I’ve also had the joy of witnessing my sister and many of my close friends become mothers. I’m surrounded by women who have been given the awesome responsibility of raising children to love the Lord. They have modeled what it looks like to be a godly wife and mother and have already taught me so much as I think about being a mom one day.
So, I’ve asked a few of them to share with all of you some of the lessons they have learned about motherhood. I’ve asked them some pretty pointed questions, and they’ve been incredibly genuine and authentic in sharing their struggles and their joys. I hope that as you read their responses to my questions that you are blessed as you seek to be a godly mom. These ladies aren’t perfect by any stretch, but they love the Lord, and their love for Him fuels their ability to love and raise their children well.
Question #1: What has been the greatest challenge you’ve faced being a mom? How have you dealt with that challenge?
“I think the greatest challenge is the loss of my independence. It starts the minute you get pregnant and share your body with a growing baby; suddenly what was only yours now belongs to someone else. And when the baby leaves the womb, you get your body back somewhat, but not completely…and life is just not the same at all. You are now responsible for someone else. Remember when you could roll out of bed and leave for work in 30 minutes? Then come home from a hard day, flop down on the couch and take a quick nap before making dinner? Complete a conversation with your husband without being interrupted ten times? Go the bathroom without an audience? Gone, gone, gone are those days and sometimes I miss them. So I get impatient and lose my temper sometimes and then feel terrible that I don’t have more appreciation for the children I wanted so desperately to have. The pressures of trying to balance a job, a house, a husband, and the children gets to me and I feel like I am not doing any of it well. I have found that music really helps me keep my perspective and my temper. When I listen to music that worships the Lord, I calm down, I slow down, and I recognize that my kids are gifts from God. I weave music into all the things I have to do, and I just feel better. Washing the dishes to a beat can be fun. Folding laundry and singing praises to the Lord can be worship. My kids love music too and so we enjoy it together. They sing and they dance and while they aren’t old enough to always understand the lyrics they are singing, it gives me great joy to hear and see them praise the Lord through music.” (Ginny, mother of three, ages 8, 5, and 3 months)
“I would say the biggest challenge I have faced is finding a balance…a balance in managing my time spent with and without my kids, a balance in how to discipline so that I’m not too stern, a balance in getting the chores done like grocery shopping, balancing the checkbook, and keeping up with the laundry, but still making time to play and act silly with my kids. These have all been a struggle, and probably are for many women. I know that I do a better job of finding that “just right” balance when I wake up early to have quiet time before the kids wake up and begin demanding my attention. It’s amazing how perfectly-timed the words from my daily devotional and Scripture can be, and I know that is no coincidence. God uses His Word to encourage and guide us because he knows our tendencies…He knows our daily struggles. In particularly tough moments if I’m lucky enough to have the presence of mind, I also repeat scripture over and over again in my head to help me control my tongue and temper…James 1:19-20 are particularly helpful to me in that area.” (Emily, mother of two, ages 3 ½ and 22 months)
“There are many! Parenting brings out our true character and often it isn’t pretty. Recognizing our reliance on the Lord and not allowing the enemy to discourage us is a challenge. Finding time to be in the Word daily is our lifeline! Even if it means reading just one scripture verse on those days that are over-the-top busy. The Psalms are full of encouragement and wisdom such as “Direct my footsteps according to your word; let no sin rule over me” (Psalm 119:133). (I like to pray this verse for my son as well.) Looking to our Creator, the holiest, purest, perfect parent gives us the wisdom, peace and guidance we need to teach our kids about how to live a life that glorifies Him. Because we have God’s Holy Spirit living in us, we have His assurance that we can be the parents He designed us to be. If we can keep the perspective that our kids are His gift to us, we will be encouraged to look at them through His loving eyes even when they have drained us of our last ounce of patience.” (Denise, mother of one, age 14)
Question #2: The Bible says that children are a blessing. How have you experienced this to be true?
“I feel like my children allow me to experience pure and simple joy because of their innocence. I love to hear their take on things, so sweet, so funny, so poignant sometimes that I want to laugh and cry all at once. When I allow myself to slow down and “be” with them, really be with them, not just around them, I feel blessed. When I think about how much I love them, I get the barest glimpse of how much God must love me and it fills me to overwhelming. I think of Matthew 7:9-11 – which says “ Which of you, if your son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!” I feel that I can better understand and believe in the depths of God’s love for me and for all his children now that I am a mother.” (Ginny, mother of three, ages 8, 5, and 3 months)
“Oh my goodness, is it ever true! Even right now, as my kids are driving me nuts because they want my attention and I’m directing it elsewhere, I know in a very deep place how blessed by my children I truly am. It’s funny how you can have a day with your kids where all you want to do is get away for some “alone time” or adult conversation, and when I do get that time away–no matter how short–I am always glad to see my kids again when I get home. Kids bring such an incredible amount of joy to life. One of the greatest joys God has shown me through my kids is how simple life truly is. When we grow up and mature, we adults tend to complicate everything. But as a parent, as I watch my kids learn and discover simple things…like the beauty of an Arizona thunderstorm, or the fun of throwing treats to ducklings down at the lake, or the simple pleasure that a bowl of popcorn brings at my house, everything seems simpler. We get a chance to relive life as we raise our kids…not by living through them…but by enjoying the beauty they bring to very ordinary activities. And believe me, no one can bring a smile to my face faster than my children; I’m sure that’s true of most parents, though.” (Emily, mother of two, ages 3 ½ and 22 months)
“It is amazing how our kids teach us! We hear ourselves talking through them, which can be good and not so good! They teach us how to lighten up and laugh and they are so quick to forgive when we mess up. Their forgiving hearts are such a blessing! They extend grace at times when we might not have extended them grace. They teach us humility and how to love like Jesus loves. They are a blessing because through them God shows us the meaning of this life, and how short our time is here – we are but a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes (James 4:14). Our kids are a blessing because they build our character, they draw us closer to Jesus, and they demand for us to be authentic. While there are unexpected challenges we may never have imagined and times of testing that make us feel we cannot go on, the blessings the Lord pours out on us through our kids is inexplicable!” (Denise, mother of one, age 14)
Question #3: What is one piece of advice you would give to a new mom or mom-to-be?
“Protect and appreciate your time with your children. They grow much too fast, and the world will constantly try to draw your time and attention away from them towards things that just don’t matter. Pray with them regularly and constantly, that they will see God as a close and constant relationship, not a far away, hard to understand go-to-church-on-Sundays entity. Sing and dance with them, and tuck them into bed every night with a big hug and kiss. If you make a mistake with them, admit it and ask forgiveness, they will respect you so much more if you are real and honest about your own failings.” (Ginny, mother of three, ages 8, 5, and 3 months)
“Probably the most important piece of advice that I would give would actually be more related to marriage than to being a mom. I cannot say enough how important it is to maintain your devotion to your husband as you enter parenthood together. While being a mom is truly wonderful, it definitely presents many challenges that you won’t be prepared to encounter. Your spouse is your “partner in crime,” the one who will have your back when you’re having a bad day. Many moms that I have met, whether Christian or not, place their primary focus on their children after becoming a parent–which is easy to do because children can be so demanding. I truly believe this is a mistake, though. When we say our vows to our spouses, we become ONE, and our relationship with our spouse should remain of primary importance even after having children. Believe me…achieving this is not an easy task. It means making a priority of date nights. It means giving attention to your husband when your kids have sucked every ounce of energy from you…and still, it is what we are called to do as wives. And from everything that I have read on the subject, if you want to raise healthy, successful, well-adjusted kids, the best way to do so is to give them a stable home environment with a mom and dad who love one another and demonstrate that on a daily basis.” (Emily, mother of two, ages 3 ½ and 22 months)
“Pray, pray and pray! Stormie Omartian’s books on prayer for our husbands and kids are so helpful. She leads us in areas of prayer we may not have gone and the Holy Spirit prays with and for us in ways that are beyond our comprehension. There are a couple of things I would encourage a new mom or mom-to-be to consider:
• Be persistent in asking the Lord for wisdom for you and your husband and pray with your spouse regularly for protection over your marriage. A new born baby or an adopted child can bring a lot of stress into the marriage. Early on, establish date nights to keep your marriage strong and joyful.
• Ask the Lord to establish a friendship with a mom who is older and wiser than you and who is walking closely with the Lord. She has walked the road you are about to travel and she can encourage you, pointing you to Jesus especially in trying times.
• Strategically place devotionals, Christian magazines, scripture verses and anything else that fills your mind and heart with Jesus. Places like the bathroom, next to the rocking chair, the kitchen, and any place where you will have a few minutes to focus on Jesus. (Denise, mother of one, age 14)
Ginny Dawson says
Cherie, thank you for writing this blog. As one of your panel, it really helped me to identify what I struggle with and appreciate what I love about my children and my role as a mom. And reading Denise and Emily’s responses also gave me great ideas and fresh perspectives on my role as mom and wife. Emily’s advice about giving attention to our husbands is so timely for me…with a three month old baby, my husband has definitely been riding in the backseat for a while…thanks Emily, for reminding me of my calling as a wife!