I believe every great moment of growth is preceded by a moment of complete vulnerability. I also believe that there aren’t many things in this world as vulnerable as motherhood.
Being a mama is full of moments of exhilarating happiness and excruciating pain. It is full of holding on and letting go. It is full of laughs and tears. It is full of late night prayers, early morning prayers, prayers in the car and prayers in the shower. We pray to fill all the corners of our quiet moments, as if all the prayers in the world will never be enough for the hearts of our babies.
Motherhood grows us and stretches us in more ways than one.
It pushes us to new levels emotionally, physically, and spiritually. It pulls insecurities and fears to the surface. Right in the middle of it all, doubts arise as fast as the laundry piles up and we wonder if we are really even cut out for this job.
We look at ourselves in the mirror at a face full of lines, a heart full of worries, and a to-do list longer than we know how to manage. We wonder how we even got here. We barely recognize the girl we see now. We’ve poured out until we are scraping the bottom of empty, only to beg God to be refilled again so we can give our children more.
Their words break through the thoughts that fill our minds:
“Mama, I need you!”
“Mama, will you play with me?”
“Mama, watch me!”
“Mama, I love you!”
“Mama, where are you?”
In the midst of it all, here are two important things you can do every day to sustain this role you’ve been given:
1. Look into the eyes of the ones who call you “Mama” and see yourself as they do.
I believe that when you hold the face of your child and really look, you will be able to catch a glimpse of yourself that you’ve forgotten in all the trying. You will see the version of you who doesn’t need to DO anything to be worth loving. In their eyes, you will see the person who can just BE. They just want you, mamas, not the lists of things you do to prove your value in this world that constantly attempts to devalue who we are.
There is no doubt, we have a big job. Mothers are chosen by God to be the ONE and only woman on this Earth who will be called “Mama” by their children without a prerequisite. The thing is – children don’t care what you look like, how you decorated your living room, what you are cooking for dinner, what the scale says, whether you failed that day at work, how many Instagram followers you have, or all the rest of the many shortcomings you might keep at an arm’s reach for motivation to perform. They love you despite everything you are and because of everything you are.
2. Recognize yourself as whole and make time to love your whole self too.
As a mom if we aren’t able to love our whole selves, then it creates these really weird pressures on our kids to live from a place of shame, control, or fear. Kids are intuitive and they see and hear everything. They want to be just like you and they want to make you happy. The best thing you can do for your child is to love and care for yourself boldly, having your identity rooted in Christ.
The world and drivenness will lead you to believe that time for yourself is a luxury only for the wealthy or a chosen few. NOT TRUE. Everyday, you get an opportunity to be vulnerable in using your time by making time for you. We can even wear proudly our badge of honor of “not having the time” like it’s a prize. I know I sometimes do.
When “doing” is our safe place, it steals the best parts of you from your family.
You are worth loving, so create space in your life to love yourself first. Your kids may cry when you leave to go to the gym, go to coffee with a friend, or even when you want them to take a nap so that you can have some precious alone time to read or pray. When they grow up, the lesson you will have taught them is that they are worth this type of self care too. That’s important work.
Our actions, not our words, are the greatest teacher. Model happiness by actually being happy. Model joy by actually having joy. Happiness and joy, independent of expectation and circumstances, are so refreshing. It’s in the “being” where you will find the relaxed, content, present and peaceful parts of yourself, which are the parts of you that your kids actually long for the most – even if it means that they don’t get to see you for an hour while you make your heart a priority.
Thank goodness our wholeness is not determined by who we can make happy — not even our kids.
Start everything with love. Take care of your heart and then take care of theirs – in that order. You are loved and you are so worth it. There is grace upon grace upon grace for the rest.