The Weight of Motherhood
In an often thankless role like motherhood, Mother’s Day may carry the weight of a year of hard work and sacrifice. But this year, in the midst of helping kids with school, physical distance from our church bodies and extended families, friendships pinned together through technology, and an excess of togetherness with the people in our homes, Mother's Day is a shining beacon. It feels like a point of hopeful light in a land of monotony and grief and overwhelm. Of course, we know it won't be the same as the past, but it lies ahead with the possibility of better circumstances.
Most of our desires for Mother's Day are reasonable. We long for breakfast in bed, a nice gift, a pedicure, homemade cards, some time alone, or just some quality family togetherness. It wouldn't take much to have the perfect Mother's Day. Still, every year I end the day with a twinge of discontent. Even if the day went just as I wanted, the good moments didn’t fully satiate my desire for rest and recognition.
This year, amidst a pandemic, we feel almost desperate for some appreciation for our weighty work or just a little break for one day. But we are even less likely to get the Mother's Day of our dreams. What we really need is to look past the pinprick of light offered by Mother's Day. Instead, we should look to the blinding hope of a God who is our perfect parent. In Christ, we can find all the recognition and rest we long for.
Our Hope for Recognition
I long to be recognized from the tips of my polish-free toenails to the ends of my unwashed hair. Does anyone notice all that the mundane and challenging tasks motherhood in a pandemic requires of me? Will anyone pay honor to my hard work? We aren't always motivated by recognition, but there's a persistent little (and sometimes loud) voice in our hearts that longs for our work to be appreciated. We just want someone to see all the behind-the-scenes serving we do on a daily basis. But our husbands and kids will almost always fail to notice all we do. Their half-hearted, semi-forced kisses often don't feel like thanks enough on Mother's Day.
God offers a better kind of recognition than the praise of your children or husband. He is El Roi, the God who sees (Genesis 16:13–14). Just as you notice when your children respond in obedience to the work set before them, God, as your Heavenly Father, sees your good works. "For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them" (Ephesians 2:10). God not only sees the hard work you’re doing, but He also created you, prepares you, and enables you to do it through the finished work of Christ.
When you recognize that all of your hard work is from Christ, through Christ, and to Christ (Romans 11:36), you see your work as worship to the God who deserves all the glory. Then, as you give God the glory for the good works He is doing through you in motherhood, you get something better than the recognition of your children or husband or friends. You experience the joy of knowing you are seen by your Heavenly Father.
We Want Rest
I'm bone-weary. The only thing I can compare to the past month staying at home is the season of mothering a newborn. I'm not trying to mislead you—I definitely get more sleep now than I did as a mom to a new baby. But my body, mind, and soul are that kind of tired. I'm tired from trying to school reluctant children who just want to play. Plus, I'm tired of being constantly behind and never knowing what lies ahead. Also, I'm tired of being lonely but too weary to reach out to friends.
Like when my babies were fresh, I have no capacity for anything but keeping my kids fed and (relatively) happy. However, the other responsibilities add up. Maybe you're tired of the same things, or maybe you have your own list. When all the circumstances of our lives shift, it takes time to adapt, and that process is exhausting. As I stumble through this ever-changing season, I am comforted by two truths:
God knows what we need.
Just as moms usually have a better understanding of what their kids actually need than the kids themselves, God knows our needs better than we do. As our Heavenly Father, He not only has the wisdom to correctly identify our needs but also the power to meet them. When we look to God to care for us, our souls find rest in Him. He is faithful to meet our physical needs like He cares for all of creation and to meet our spiritual needs with Himself.
God doesn't need anything from us.
Surrounded by fallen, weary humanity, we are faced with more needs than we could ever meet. The needs of my own family in this crisis feel too heavy to bear. Additionally, the needs of people around the globe grow daily. It’s overwhelming. In this world where everyone needs something from us, our souls can be at rest in a God who needs nothing from us. He invites us into an intimate relationship with Him for our own good, not because He lacks anything.
God is perfect and complete within the relationship of the Trinity: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. His purposes stand and His will is accomplished, no matter how we react to our circumstances. God has many good things planned for us to do, but He doesn't need us to accomplish any of them. In a world where you are surrounded by neediness, find your rest in the God who does not need anything from you.
As we stumble through the darkness of this changing world, we need more than a flashlight of hope. We need the blindingly brilliant sunshine of the One who said, “I am the light of the world” (John 8:12). Friends, we don’t have to produce light for all the needs of the world. Instead, we get to reflect God’s light to those around us.
When we place our hope for recognition and rest in God instead of in a perfect holiday, we shine the spotlight on God’s glory. This Mother's Day, we do not have to saddle our husbands or children with our longing for rest and recognition. Instead, we can find those truly met in the completeness and power of our Heavenly Father.
Meet the Author
Maggie Combs is a wife, mom of three busy boys, writer, and speaker. When motherhood overwhelmed her, God drew her closer to him through writing her first book, Unsupermommy: Release Expectations, Embrace Imperfection, and Connect to God’s Superpower. Her second book will be available this fall. You may have seen her before at The Gospel Coalition, Risen Motherhood, Revive Our Hearts True Woman Blog, The Journeywomen Podcast, and more. Find more of her practical application of the gospel to motherhood at www.unsupermommy.com or on Instagram and Facebook.