Today I had the privilege of speaking on motherhood as part of the Mother’s Day celebration at our church. The talk brought up a lot of memories I had forgotten about and many I thought I should document and share.
Becoming a mother didn’t come easy for me. We suffered from infertility for almost seven years before Solomon was born. There were many disappointing months, fertility doctor visits, surgeries, shots, miscarriages, an ectopic pregnancy and prayers that preceded his birth in September 2009. Because of my previous troubles, I was highly concerned my entire pregnancy so much so that after Solomon was born I was relieved to have gotten through the pregnancy but I didn’t have the immediate bond with him that I’d heard so many other mothers talk about. Sure, I loved him and nurtured him but that head over heels in love and “I’d die for this tiny human” feeling didn’t come until a few months later. I think I was simply overwhelmed by the enormity of it all.
I’m going to let you all in on a bit of an intimate letter. A letter to myself, my 33-year-old self on the verge of giving birth to my first baby (picture above from my baby shower).
A letter to my 33-year old self
Dear 33-year old Madelyn,
Soon you’ll be on one of the greatest adventures of your life. You prayed for years to be a mom and thought a lot about the mother you want to be and the things you want to do. So since I know you better than anybody else in the world, I’ve got a little advice I’d like to share with you that I think will help.
First of all, being a mother enhances who you are but isn’t all you are. If your children become the measure of life or your sense of worth, you’re setting yourself up to be disappointed. God has given you a unique set of skills, interest, and abilities and one of the best things you can do to help your kids is to show them how to live out their lives as the unique individuals they are called to be. A very wise person will one day tell you that one of her greatest regrets as a mother was not pursuing interests of her own; listen to her and take that wisdom to heart.
Go out with friends, take the class, start the business, read the book, love on your husband, give to others; just always remember the person you are now before they are born.
I also urge you to resist the mother comparison game. It begins when your kids teethe late and really doesn’t ever end. The comparison will rob you of so many of the small joys of motherhood. Don’t stress over your 3 1/2 year old that hasn’t potty trained or the fact that you 3rd grader doesn’t get multiplication as quickly as his peers. Smart, polite and adorable children are great but your ultimate goal is to give the world children with a heart to pursue God wholeheartedly and who, with full force, will go after His call for their lives. Children who have character, good manners and share love unapologetically. And for goodness sake, stay away from Facebook, Instagram, and all the other social media platforms so much! They only increase the comparison game plus you’ll stay up way too late looking at them and be grumpy the next morning.
Please remember to Give yourself and other mamas some grace. You’ve made a lot of assumptions about motherhood based on all the books you’ve read and advice you’ve been given but you’ll soon find out there’s nothing that will change assumptions about motherhood like being in the trenches of everyday life with a little human you’ve been entrusted with and no experience. Learn early on to lean on God to show you YOUR road of motherhood and not necessarily the road others have taken. Advice is wonderful and you’ll definitely need and use it but be open to realizing that God may be taking you down a slightly different path and that’s okay. Also be mindful to keep these same thoughts In mind when you’re tempted to judge other moms for their choices that are different from yours. Remember, you’re all trying to figure it out.
Stop rushing things. Really, I mean it. Life goes by so much faster than you would ever believe. I know it doesn’t feel like it now, but it will. Each year it will seem like the world is spinning faster and faster. Stop wishing away time because you are looking for the next stage of your kid’s lives. Try to enjoy the moment and the uniqueness of each stage. It would behoove you to know that the days are long but the years are fast. I know this is difficult for you since I am you, but you have to try to remember this.
And finally, remember that no mother is perfect and the years will help you sort out your priorities and calling as a mother which is uniquely tailored to you and your children.
Your children will live what they see consistently not just what they hear. Let them see you fall but get back up with grace and faith. Let them see you smile, laugh, be silly and get in the family pictures. Let them see you give and help others. Let them see you mess up and apologize. But most of all, let them see you live your life sold out to God and pursuing your call as a woman, wife, sister, friend, and mother.
P.S. You’ll be an all boy mom so let go of the twirly dress dreams and prissy tea parties. Brace yourself for dirt, burps more fart jokes than you could ever fathom and more love than you ever thought was possible here on earth.
Your wiser, 42-year-old self