“Just a minute, pleeeeeease!” These four words are uttered by me often through gritted teeth and with barely controlled frustration. I add the please in an attempt to sound less angry than I really am. It doesn’t work. They see the frustration in my eyes.
With four daughters, someone always needs something. Typically, 2-3 of them, sometimes all 4, need something at the same time and they need it “right now”. The oldest is 9 and she is by far the most independent. She has lived long enough to know that if you need something, it is better to figure it out on your own than to risk interrupting mom. Yes, that breaks my heart too.
The little ones can’t help but need mommy. They are messy and still figuring things out. I often wish they didn’t need me so much. I dream of the day when they can fix their own meals, tie their own shoes, bandage their own boo-boos, and solve their own problems. Yes, sometimes I am the worst of mommies. I really wish I could be that mom who does all of these things with a smile, looking so delighted that her children need her so badly. But instead, I grit my teeth and sullenly wipe up another mess.
I am tired, self-absorbed, guilt-ridden, and worn down. I am exhausted from their demands, irked by their neediness, and insulted by their bad manners. I am offended, that these little people that I brought into this world would have the audacity to look me in the eye and say no. Who do they think they are? Don’t they know how hard I’ve worked to birth them, care for them, and give them everything they have bawled for? They should be grateful! There should be some humility and reverence in response to all I’ve done for them. They don’t have a clue the tremendous lengths I’ve gone to for their pitiful little selves!
And then I realize, I am describing myself. A little child, throwing tantrums, demanding to be treated fairly, crying at every little discomfort and inconvenience. Wow. What an incredibly patient and gracious Father I have. He has gone to extravagant lengths to save me! He has cleaned up all of my messes. He has waited patiently while I screamed and rebelled. He has given of Himself completely. He gave up all of His rights of deity, and humbly became a human, so that I could be redeemed. He has never uttered the words “Just a minute,” with frustration or anger, but rather has spoken these words for my good, because he knew I lacked the maturity to handle what I was asking for.
How could I, someone who has received such grace and mercy, fail so often to extend it to my own children? These little disciples, who have been entrusted to my care, are often infuriating, yet so desperate for the grace and gospel of Jesus. This is the very raw struggle of motherhood for me. I love my children completely and imperfectly. I delight in the beauty I see growing in them. I see my daughters, born into sin, being remade into new creatures, for His glory and it thrills and overwhelms me simultaneously. Why would God entrust me with the important task of teaching and training four other image-bearers?
The only thing I can figure is that He is looking for the least likely space to display His goodness and glory. I have failed as a mother for a very long time. Ask my kids, and they’ll tell you it’s true. But…God still chose me to be their mother. He knew I would struggle. He knew I would fail. And still He chose me.
And He chose you. He chose you to be the woman that your children would call mom, mommy and mama. We were both chosen before we were even conceived, to bear these children, not just for 18 years, but for all of our life. Sound terrifying? For sure.
When the responsibility of daily provision is gone, we will no longer bear the burden of raising children, but rather will experience a shift as our children bear the burden of adulthood. And as we hope to be fellow believers with our children, we will do as Galatians 6:2 tells us, “Bear each others burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ”.
As they walk out of our home and into the rest of their life, we will still bear them in our heart. As they face success and rejection, we will bear the joy and pain with them. As they struggle in their marriage, we will bear the fear and disappointment with them. As they face the daunting task of raising their own children, we will bear the weight and weariness with them. As they discover God for themselves we, too, will bear the delight and the joy of knowing Him. As they walk through dark seasons of tragedy, we will bear doubt and sorrow with them. This is what we are called to do. And He who has called us will give us the strength and will to obey.
Today will not be easy, but it is just a day. It is just a minute in time. The burden you bear today will soon be gone. So don’t fret. Do not grow weary in doing good (Gal. 6:9). Know that the work God has handed you will not be in vain (1 Cor. 15:58).
You are not just dishing out goldfish and changing diapers. You are building disciples that will build the kingdom of God. You are doing the most important work you have been called to do. Be strong and courageous! God is with you (Deut. 31:6). He is the perfect parent who daily bears our burdens (Ps. 68:19). When you are failing miserably in motherhood, don’t hide - run to the One who is making all things new. Rest in His grace and provision.
You may not have a minute. You may have even been interrupted three times while reading this article. I was interrupted twice while writing it. The two-year old is potty training. Dirty dishes are waiting. Laundry piles are multiplying. Someone is arguing with her sister. It doesn’t ever feel like there is a spare minute. It’s going to be okay. We have something greater than an extra minute. We have the perfect Father, with us, always. Trust Him. He is good.
Be encouraged today by these words from Psalm 103.
"The LORD is merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love. He will not always chide, nor will he keep his anger forever. He does not deal with us according to our sins, nor repay us according to our iniquities. For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his steadfast love toward those who fear him; as far as the east is from the west, so far does he remove our transgressions from us. As a father shows compassion to his children so the LORD shows compassion to those who fear him. For he knows our frame; he remembers that we are dust. As for man, his days are like grass; he flourishes like a flower of the field; for the wind passes over it, and it is gone, and its place knows it no more. But the steadfast love of the LORD is from everlasting to everlasting on those who fear him, and his righteousness to children's children." Psalm 103:8-17 (ESV)