By Allison French
Mary, a starry-eyed young girl, dreaming of her life ahead devoted to her first love, Joseph, their marriage day, their newlywed bliss, just the two of them, starting a life together, as one. Then there was Joseph, pining for his love, counting down the days to finally be with her, to care for her, to be hers and only hers, to build their family, to build their dreams.
But, at the peak of everything hoped, it all came to a crashing halt. In a flash, everything she had dreamed was changed. A wedding postponed, rumors of her infidelity, the weight of a fatherless child, not even able to settle in for those last aching weeks of pregnancy before they would be displaced, jolt after bounce after step of fatigue to the unknown, no rest for the weary. And then to be serenaded by mire and loneliness, isolated, the thought of them, bringing a baby into the world that would consider them a disgrace?
And yet, when called, she answered without protest, without hesitation. "I am the Lord's servant," Mary answered. "May your word to me be fulfilled." -Luke 1:38
I am stilled, humbled by her response. See, when it comes to motherhood, I expected late night feedings and piles more laundry. I expected bandaids and legos and sippy cups and navigating through these all strewn throughout the house. I expected noise and babysitter fees and diaper costs and peanut butter and jelly. I expected exhaustion. And, yes, my life is so very full of all of these artifacts of childhood. And, yes, quite often I find myself exhausted. But, five years into being mommy, I’m just now starting to learn what it’s actually all about. And it’s hard.
Yes, I believe God is entrusting them to me to prepare them for their role in society. That in and of itself is equally as thrilling as I dream of occupations and accomplishments and what’s to come and sobering as I breathe in the responsibility I have for readying them, training them, equipping them for what’s ahead. Yes, He’s also perfectly planned the personalities, all-knowingly knit each one in my womb and then with love and wisdom delivered them into my life for my own shaping, my own growth. He knows best how stretch the impatient places, humble the pride, slow hurried paces, refine a desire for control. And yes, I realize that as I pour my life into my children, it is often fulfilling the miracles I need in my own heart.
But, still it’s not where the purpose of my motherhood is. I believe it’s even grander, more far-reaching than our human minds can comprehend.
Thinking back to Mary, She must have known the calling of motherhood wasn’t about her, fulfilling her plans, her visions for what could be. She must have known it was simply an invitation to be a part of a grander vision, a grander mission, a grander miracle. It’s the only way she could have chosen faith as she did. She who packed up her baby, tucked swaddled blankets into crevices of a basket, examining, readjusting, carefully cushioning him, tenderly brushing trembling fingers across his cheek, tracing his features, memorizing his beauty, murmuring prayers of hope through salty, stinging tears, trusting her Lord to make meaning of the confusion that was His beginning, trusting Her Lord to save though threatened, though seemingly abandoned. What a beautiful example of faith, despite her longing, despite her fear, she chose what was best over what was good, joining, rejoicing in His plan.
“And Mary said: “My soul glorifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for he has been mindful of the humble state of his servant. From now on all generations will call me blessed, for the Mighty One has done great things for me— holy is his name.” -Luke 1:46-49
When we become mothers, our Heavenly Father grants us the privilege of demonstrating our devotion to him through the total self-sacrifice this occupation requires daily, even hourly. He allows us the honor of having a hand in the weaving of His story. And that is what it is, His story. His purpose. It’s all for His glory.
I first caught a glimpse of this eight weeks into becoming mommy for the first time when date night was suddenly cancelled because our baby wouldn’t stop screaming for the sitter. In reality, I now know this was only the beginning of years of thwarted plans, unexpected failures and disappointing diversions. But it’s all for His glory.
How it would change my outlook each day if I stopped believing mothering had anything to do with my time, my plans, my hope for some self-satisfying results? What if I stopped believing the tedious care for my children was really up to me at all and simply saw myself as being my Good Father’s entrusted servant? Would my patience grow to extend as far as the east is from the west? Would my compassion swell as His all encompassing mercy? Would my energy reflect His everlasting purpose?
How gloriously would this shift in perspective affect my mothering in the moments where all the littles are dressed on time and loaded up and buckled in and we are halfway on our way to our destination, cruising full speed down the highway one gets suddenly silent and then projectiles his breakfast all over himself and obliterating the carseat with disgustingness and my plans for the day just suddenly took a very different direction?
How much more love would I carry with this enlightened outlook in the moment when we join a playdate and as soon as I cozy up with creamed up coffee ready for girl talk, hungry for adult conversation, I hear one of mine in screaming sobs unable to communicate and spiraling in defeat as he is overwhelmed with the chaos? How much more purposeful would I be then when one of my children finds herself helpless in trying to work past her fear to open the door and join her classmates at dance class and week after week we are both left in sweaty tears, in the hallway outside the class frustrated with each other and at a standstill?
We’ve all been there in these moments or similar. And as I tuck each year under my proverbial mothering belt, I’ve come to the more convicting realization that motherhood isn’t just the next step in happily ever after, the one we take on to have a reason for Pinterest pinning and registry making and accessorizing with a new, much larger, fuller tote bag. It’s not about park dates or garage sales or dance recitals or birthday parties or swim lessons or picture books. And when it comes down to it, changing the diapers is only the beginning of the change that’s ahead for my own heart.
But, the whole purpose of my being a mother often has little to do with me at all. It’s actually all simply another opportunity to join my Heavenly Father, their Heavenly Father in His omniscient plan for their lives, my life and the lives around me. And it’s actually all for His glory that He invites me.
So, when mothering is loud and embarrassing and messy and frustrating and overwhelming and all-consuming, I’ll come back to the moments I’m tracing my smallest baby’s tender features and rocking her in a silent snoozing house. I’ll come back to when my heart melts at the slow curving stretch when she throws two stick wrists with furled fists into the air, lashes squeezed tight in slumber’s surrender, when I’m laughing so hard tears slip out of squinted eyes at my children’s crazy, quirky antics, when we pile on the couch, and I’m buried beneath limbs and elbows and fuzzy heads.
And, yet, I’ll know more fully that these moments aren’t the purpose, the goal, the reason I’ve become a momma. They’re not even the fullness of the reward. Rather, they’re simply a sort of tender mercy for the times, the many, many times I find myself stretched and refined and humbled as I myself do my own sort of growing up. And I’ll thank God again for the beautiful honor He’s granted me in inviting me to serve Him in the gloriously rewarding role as mother.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Mother of four children under five, Allison French makes her home in Kansas City. Together with her best friend and hubby Chris, their noisy little (big) family thrives on soaking up sweetness in the simple. Photography and writing are two loves that have grounded her in gratitude through these motherhood years as she began to more deeply see the fleeting nature of the things that make each of our lives so uniquely beautiful. She's passionate about the significance of the “in between moments of life,” the creamed up coffee, steam floating softly into the untouched morning, the fresh mornings’ first rays singing of the purest sense of new beginning, barefoot muddy toes in the summer’s warmth and in the crispest of winters, cozy fireplace blazes under piled worn blankets next to the little ones leaning in, freshly cut flowers, dew still lingering, stacks and stacks of richly vibrant children’s books, the finger-running tousle through the locks you nuzzle in, and long, lingering breakfasts together. | @allisoncorrin | allisoncorrin.com/personal