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On Becoming a Mother…

Becoming a mother is something that I always assumed would happen eventually, but I never really gave it much thought. For whatever reason, it was always a secondary focus to me and I never really had that strong drive to start a family ASAP, even after getting married. After having now had two children, I have many reflections on that looking back. Let me share a little about how becoming a mother has changed not only myself drastically, but my perspective on society and people in general. This comes at an interesting time since recently, being a woman and having children seems to have become more controversial than you might have expected.

I Bought Into the Lie

I was raised in a Christian, Conservative household with traditional values that upheld family. Yet somehow, I was still focused on going to college right out of High School and finding a fulfilling career that matched my passions and giftings. Subconsciously, finding a husband and starting a family was a pleasant by-product along the way. I didn’t really question or even give this much thought until recently. One standing joke in some circles had been that some women would go to college looking for their “M.R.S.-degree” and would hope for a “ring by Spring”. I inwardly laughed at such people and perhaps rightly so. It seemed silly to pay all this money to go to college on the premise of just finding a man and settling down anyway. However, not going to college or pursuing higher education to avoid this seemed a pit-fall too; what if you never found anyone and needed to rely solely on your own education and skills to support yourself? In truth, both options seem impractical or wasteful. Another option would be to prioritize education and career on the assumption that you’ll either not want children or have them only after you’ve finally established yourself in a career (hoping your biological clock complies). But then you’ll either have to pay for childcare or step back in your hard-won career! What’s a woman to do?

In today’s modern culture, it somehow seems rather simplistic to seek after a husband and family; perhaps even low-class. The message I realize I was subconsciously receiving growing up had been to seek a career first and foremost. Biological time-frames of fertility didn’t even enter the equation.

It used to be a grief of mine that somehow I never seemed to find that passion pursuit of a career that fulfilled me. I toyed with a lot of ideas (usually involving international travel): archaeologist, marine-archaeologist, foreign service diplomat, missionary, tour guide etc. None of those ever seemed to pan out for me…either from lack of drive or perhaps the Lord had better plans. I like to think He did.

My First Step Into Motherhood

My husband and I had been married for 5 years before we really decided to try for kids. Some of that was due to our greater family, no one else was married or had kids and it seemed to make sense to stay in similar life-stages with them. When I finally did get pregnant for the first time, in some ways, it was more about being something I should do than something I wanted for myself. I was nervous of losing my freedoms…. and also sleep (!) in exchange for the unknown. I never really was drawn towards babies or children like some women are although I always assumed I would love my own.

When I finally went to the hospital for delivery of my son, I had some mild levels of panic. I wasn’t sure I was ready for this next step, but there was no going back now, I was on this train wherever it was taking me!

What No One Told Me About Motherhood

I never realized that when my son was born and I met someone new for the first time, I was also going to meet someone else new: myself. Somehow, magically and wonderfully the world changed in that moment. My heart somehow jumped outside my body and started running around, getting in all kinds of trouble (and sometimes, a toddler now, with an active will for unintentional self-harm). A new place of small but constant worry popped up in my head; however, a new place of love and empathy did as well. Suddenly I was much more interested in hearing about other mothers’ stories, struggles, and children. When I looked at photos of babies, I used to move along…suddenly I was seeing my son’s tiny hands reflected in that baby’s. I now can’t watch the same movies anymore; anything having to do with children or mothers suffering and dying and I’m OUT. Even young men dying in war movies…suddenly that’s someone’s son that they held and rocked all night. Personality-wise, my family said I was much more kind and loving and maybe even a little less snarky.

Embracing Femininity and Womanhood

Now, I feel I’ve been “radicalized” and my eyes have been opened to all the ways that our modern society has suppressed women…and it’s not in ways you might expect. For example, what does a successful woman look like to you? Perhaps she is independent and financially successful, in a career that she loves and may also be married with one or two kids. Perhaps they are in daycare while she works. But wait….how is that much different from a successful man? Not that these things aren’t good or even sometimes necessary…but I wouldn’t say that they are stretching the bounds of feminine success specifically. Women can be capable of doing almost anything, but what is the one thing that a woman can do that no one else can? Exercise the part of you that makes you a woman. A bird can do many things well…but what can a bird do that most animals can’t? Fly! Since becoming a mother and exercising my “wings” of motherhood, I have been pressing into other areas of womanhood and femininity and asking more questions. Girl-talk for a second…why had I been taking hormonal birth control which suppressed my natural hormones?? Why is this so often prescribed without question in the medical community as the panacea for so many feminine ailments. I used to take this for acne and then actual birth control, and so for a few years, I didn’t embrace or fully understand my natural hormonal cycle and it’s ebbs and flows. These things aren’t widely talked about in schools or even in the medical community frankly. Perhaps because it’s easier to say “here take this pill each day” than to teach the intricacies of the feminine cycle. Instead of leaning into my femininity, I was unintentionally leaning away.

Biology and Beyond

What is a woman? There’s an obvious biological answer to this question having to do with chromosomes (which some in our modern culture may struggle with). However, I believe that being a woman, although rooted in that biology, also expands far beyond it. To me, being a woman has not only meant becoming a wife and mother and capitalizing on that biology, but also being a nurturing caregiver. I think about what I do most days: I care for my children, my husband, my cat, my garden/plants and my home. Being a woman often means sacrifice of yourself in service of others. Let me be clear, not being able to have children doesn’t make you any less of a woman. We all can find our own ways of living into God’s calling in our lives and capitalizing on the gender He made us.

As much as I hate to admit it, leaning into being a mother also means that I am more vulnerable. I have always been strong and fairly self-reliant. I would like to think if I was born in ancient Viking culture, that I would’ve been one of those warrior women who defended her people with sword and shield! However, as I have walked through two pregnancies, breastfeeding, and all else that comes with motherhood, I have had to let go of some of my previous desire to fight as I turn inwards to my children and caring for them. All the more, I recognize the beauty of the family structure as God designed it: the husband who is outward facing, ready to protect, defend and provide for his family, and the wife who eventually turns her back on the outside world to some extent and faces inwards to care for her children and home. I need that person at my back looking outwards so that I can look within (not that I am incapable of defending myself and my children as necessary (see also “Mama bear”), but my role in that becomes secondary). Culture may tell us that traditional gender roles are sexist, misogynistic, or limiting. But in my own life, I have found that they are necessary for success as I live out the reason for their existence.

I have to admit, I have recently been overcome by this desire to have many children, wear dresses, make bread and grow all my own food (!!!) I’m not sure where this all comes from but I do feel that by allowing the Lord to open me up to having children, I have also embraced more fully who I am as a woman and everything that comes with that…and perhaps flowy, “Pilgrim dresses” is my expression of that! Who can say?

Spiritual Connections

In so many ways, I have come to recognize that being a woman also reflects the person of Jesus. Jesus is the person of the Trinity who engaged with people on the most intimate level. You might say he had the most empathy because he was human and therefore experienced suffering with us. He was there to heal, instruct, and to care give for his people face to face. He came down from heaven to live with us on Earth. He sacrificed the most. In a marriage, when a couple has children, it is clear which of the two sacrifices the most, at least initially, physically and emotionally. Jesus was the person of the Trinity who also suffered the most in His death on a cross. Becoming a mother has helped me to better understand God and to appreciate Jesus’ sacrifice even more. A marital relationship is intended to reflect the Trinity. The husband symbolizes the duties of God the Father to create, protect, and provide and the wife symbolizes the duties of Jesus to interact, to feel, to live with and to sacrifice for others. The union between the two and the fruits of that union is symbolized by the Holy Spirit.

The Beauty in the Commonplace

My goal in sharing my experience of becoming a mother is not to shame any woman who is not a mother, but to encourage those who can be but who, like me, perhaps have been sold a little of the lie of modern feminine success. Take the leap and embrace who you were made to be through embracing womanhood more fully. I want to add my voice to the collection of positive conversation surrounding motherhood and family.

A lot of people will acknowledge that motherhood is hard. In fact, there’s a whole subculture online that glorifies “mommy wine culture”, where needing a glass of wine (or two or three) to get through the day with your kids is praised and mocking or complaining about them is also fair game. What I find strange about this it is generally known that all good things are hard work. For example, going to the Olympics requires sacrifice but no one doubts that or questions the athletes who undertake the effort. These athletes also aren’t complaining online about their challenging training; it’s all part of the sacrifice for the goal. Having children has reaffirmed to me that child-raising is some of the most important work of all and worth all the sacrifice we can give. After all, your work is the very foundation of society since you are raising the future adults that will comprise it. And Lord-willing you will raise God-fearing children who will impact the world for Christ and do the same with their future children and continue the cycle.

Sometimes being a mother and having children can seem commonplace. However, it’s some of those most commonplace seeming things that are the most essential…and magical. No one typically praises having oxygen to breathe on a frequent basis and yet there it is. Mothers are the glue that keeps a family together and takes care of their needs without a second thought. A mother helps bring human life, a new eternal soul, into the world.

The Greatest Gift

Not only does raising functioning, well-adjusted children benefit society as a whole, but my husband has something more meaningful to provide for as well. I’ve come up with a small list of benefits I have observed in myself, to name a few!

  • I have found more meaning in my life
  • I care more about society. I now have little children who will live and be vulnerable in it
  • I’m more empathetic in general
  • I have a better practical understanding of God and His love for us
  • I take different risks
  • I appreciate and rely on my husband more
  • I am more in sync with myself physically
  • I’m more responsible and self-sacrificing

Let me just end by saying that especially in these post Roe v Wade times, when abortion is lauded and motherhood is sneered at, I have never been more grateful for the two blessings I have in my life. Modern culture portrays children as burdens or something only for the eccentric, or people with a “breeding kink” (this is legitimately something I’ve heard). A fulfilling career is the ultimate goal, beyond primarily a method of provision. However, when the “dream career” is attained, it’s actually full of long hours, terrible management, thankless customers, poor pay, etc. Was it worth all the sacrifice?

I would personally rather invest in something that will matter eternally: a human soul that I have the privilege and responsibility to raise.

5 thoughts on “On Becoming a Mother…”

  1. Thank you for sharing your heart. While I am a grandma now, I had similar thoughts when I was a first time mom and then the mom of three. There has been no greater accomplishment in my life than God giving me and asking me to raise the 3 beautiful children he did. They have also given me the greatest JOY. Continue to share, it all needs to be said in these time in which we live.

  2. Very well said!! loved reading your heart and I could not agree with where you stand more! what a complete privilege it is to contribute to the kingdom of God 🤍

  3. I thought this was one of the most honest and sincere analysis of motherhood I’ve ever read. It was filled with profound insights about the deeper purposes of being a mother which in the end leads to the personal transformation of oneself. That wonderful discovery is one of the things that has been lost in our culture and desperately needs to be recovered. These insights are a step in that direction. When a society cannot embrace and highly value its children as a gift from God it begins to die and that’s what we’ve been watching in the West the last 50 or more years. So I encourage you to read this blog and pass it on to other young women and adults to begin to really understand what’s important in life and refute the cultural pressures and lies around us each day.

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