Preparing for Motherhood
“Antenatal what?” I scratched my head, trying to make sense of my therapist’s words. “Antenatal depression.” She continued. “It’s depression that some moms experience before the baby comes.” I let her words sink in. And after a quiet moment, nodded my head in agreement. “I think that sounds about right.” The name seemed to fit the mental struggle I constantly found myself engaged in as the reality of motherhood drew near.
While I was beyond excited at the thought of holding my child in my arms, I was also fearful. Fearful of having to sacrifice pieces of myself as my life became increasingly centered around my baby. As my husband and I prepared for a newborn, I tried to mentally prepare myself for a life of self-sacrifice. The warnings of well-meaning loved ones filled my thoughts:
“You can’t raise a child and go to school.”
“You want to be a missionary? But you have kids...”
"Now that the baby’s coming, you can forget about starting your own business.”
And the list of sacrifices “good” moms must make goes on.
Identity and Parenting
Because I was handmade by God (Ps. 139:14), I know that who I am now and who I grow to be is under his care. Do you ever wrestle with the tension between being a selfless mom and worrying you are losing yourself?
The truth is that serving and sacrificing for others does not mean we are losing ourselves. As we grow in sanctification through the act of service, we become more of who God is calling us to be. What if we stopped getting lost in what we feel obligated to do as moms? Instead, what if we viewed motherhood as an opportunity to grow into who we are in Christ?
Here are four practical ways God uses motherhood to help us grow into who we already are in Christ:
Motherhood Teaches Us to Depend on God
As a new mom, I struggled to adjust to the drastic changes in my energy levels and productivity. I went from having as many as eight productive hours per day to wondering what I accomplished in the span of one week. Between trying to meet deadlines during my baby’s nap time and searching for sleep like buried treasure, I learned that I am not limitless. God used the early years to teach me to trust him with my ever-evolving pace as a mom.
Perhaps the unfolded laundry or the messy toddler isn't an indictment against us. But maybe it is God’s private invitation to live in his grace for the day. Instead of feeding the shame that comes from failing to meet the perfect mom’s standards, I’m learning to trust God to fill in the gaps where I fall short. God teaches moms to return to their child-like faith and dependence on him through our long lists of unfinished tasks. The unchecked boxes remind us that God’s grace is sufficient in our weakness (2 Cor. 12:9).
Motherhood Helps Us Remember our Passions
One of my favorite questions to ask young children is, “What do you like to do?” I love to see their eyes light up as they enthusiastically share every hobby that has ever brought them even the slightest bit of pleasure. I admire their ability to delight in small things. As a mom, I sometimes feel ashamed for wanting to pursue my own passions. And at times, I ask myself if the time I spend enjoying my hobbies should be used to check off more items on my to-do list.
Like my two-year-old, I want to be in touch with my passions. And God is teaching me that this is healthy for both me and my family (Eccles. 3:12–13). Recently, I’ve shared my passion for learning the Japanese language with my daughter, and she loves it too. Now, I study as I teach her to speak Japanese with me. Through enjoying what I like, I’m able to connect with my daughter by sharing more about the unique ways God created and gifted me.
Motherhood Grows Us in Courage
Once I invited my nephew to join my daughter and me at the indoor trampoline park. I winced in silent panic as I watched the toddler jump fearlessly over tiny ramps. I didn’t know whether I should applaud his courageous feats or encourage him to play it safe. And I often wonder what I could accomplish if I had his child-like courage.
Without realizing it, God has used motherhood to grow my courage. I launched my own branding and web design business so that I could have the freedom to homeschool my daughter. In what ways may God be using your child to help you grow in courage by trusting in him?
Motherhood Helps Us Understand the Depth of God’s Love for Us
One of my greatest joys as a mom is watching my daughter develop as a person. I love that her favorite color is purple. Often my mother and I burst into laughter when she expresses her opinions on food, a TV show, or the weather. I delight in compiling all these details that come to make her who she is. And I look forward to the years to come where I’ll learn even more about her.
Motherhood is such a beautiful lens for understanding God’s love for us. If we care enough about our children’s personhood to preserve their stories through the photos and videos that occupy our smartphones, how much more does God delight in us? In motherhood, we get to experience just a taste of love that motivates sacrifice. Jesus was the perfect example of this love. When we begin to grasp the depth of God’s love for us, we can be confident that who we are is under his loving care.
Parenting as Children of God
Because we love our children with everything we have, there will always be a temptation to try to fill the mold of what society considers a “good mom.” Many times, this looks like planning every detail of our lives around our children or indulging our compulsions to satisfy all of our families’ wants and needs. But this is a role that only God can fill.
As mothers, we’ll experience both mountain tops and valleys throughout the journey of raising our children, but neither define who we are as people. This frees us to release the burdens that weigh us down when we try to find our worth in being good moms. When we view motherhood as a gift that helps us learn more about who God made us to be, we’ll find that we’re not only flourishing as mothers but growing with our children.