Momming is Hard
I think when we are young, we are convinced we will grow up and become a world changer. We want to invent something, cure something, or discover something that secures a spot for our name in history books. But as we grow, most of us realize life will probably not be quite that dramatic. For me, as an introvert, that is really more of a relief. I don’t think I have the calling or capacity to lead on that level, but the longer I have been a mom, the more I understand the impact of my role.
Moms are changing the future with each moment of tenderness and with each moment of correction. The world becomes a different place based on the people who fill it, and our leadership determines the people who fill it. I might not feel called to lead the masses, but leading my four kids and doing my best to guide them into adulthood has been my focus for the last 24 years, and I find joy in the idea that I am contributing.
As a Christian, I have always believed when God calls you to a specific purpose; He is faithful to equip you for that purpose. Parenting is important work that does not have a one-size-fits-all handbook, but there are two mottos that have helped get me through my parenting journey.
#1–Parent toward conviction, not just toward obedience.
There have been moments when it would have been much easier to answer my kids with, “Because I said so!” But my job as a mom of four sons is not just to raise obedient boys. It is ultimately to produce prepared men. It's hard to remember throughout the difficulties of childhood how fast time actually passes. When they are two years old, it can feel like you will be changing diapers and living off no sleep forever. But the little league games, acne, and first breakups are over in no time, and they will be six feet tall, starting a career before you know it. Will they be prepared? That is why parenting toward conviction is so important. We won’t always be there. They have to be able to make decisions based on something more profound than the success the world promises or our opinions of their choices. It is THEIR convictions that will guide their choices when they are not in our presence. No matter what our convictions are, if we are not there to enforce obedience, there’s a chance they will lose their way before they have ever had the chance to prove themselves. Parenting toward conviction means leading them toward the One who will always be there and by whose Word we should make all decisions for our lives.
The word count in the Bible regarding Lois and Eunice may be small, but what it says tells us a lot about their parenting styles. Lois was the grandmother, and Eunice was the mother of Timothy. Timothy was a companion of Paul, and the two were instrumental in spreading the gospel of Jesus and solidifying the establishment of the early church. Paul encouraged Timothy in 2 Timothy 1:5, saying, “I remember your genuine faith that first filled your grandmother Lois and your mother, Eunice. And I know that SAME faith continues strong in you.”
Faith is not passed on by luck or by genetics. These two women had to prioritize passing their “genuine faith” on to Timothy, and they did that by parenting toward conviction. By the time he was ready to set out in life, Timothy understood who God was and believed His Son was the answer the world needed. Because of these two strong and faithful women in his life, Timothy knew where to go for answers and had clear direction about his source of accountability. He took that understanding and passed it on to the early church, spreading the good news of the gospel that changed the world. I wonder if Lois and Eunice could have ever imagined the impact of their legacy. I wonder if Billy Graham’s mom understood hers or if Martin Luther King’s understood hers. The names of these moms are not well known to us, but their effect on the world definitely is. What will ours be?
#2–You will make mistakes, so give yourself a break and ask God to “fill in all the gaps between what you can give your kids and what they need.”
Nothing is more terrifying than the idea of making a decision that negatively affects the tiny humans we love more than we love our own lives. Of course, we all want to do what is best for them in every instance, but unfortunately, that’s not possible. We are humans, and humans make mistakes. It’s inevitable. My friend Terri Gravitt told me long ago about a prayer she consistently prays asking, “Lord, please fill in all the gaps between what I can give them and what they really need.” And guess what! He does it faithfully!
Let me just share a doozy of a mistake I once made…
One Easter morning, we had finally made it through the chaos of Easter baskets, egg hunts, dressing in our Easter Sunday best, and taking lots of pictures as you do on holidays with four kids. We always attend church in New Boston on Easter so we can be with our extended family, and this year, because of scheduling issues for the day, we were taking three separate cars. My oldest son, who was 17, my husband, and I were all driving, and we were leaving separately with a mix of passengers in each car. We stopped not far up the road to fill up with gas before we left for the 20-minute trip. We each pulled into the parking lot and began filing out of our vehicles when I noticed Ben, my seven-year-old, was nowhere to be seen. I assumed he must be settled in the back of my husband’s car with no reason to get out, so I asked my husband to see if he (Ben) wanted a drink for the road since I was getting water for myself. His eyes got wide as he realized what I must be saying. Ben wasn’t in his car! He wasn’t in my car, and my son said he wasn’t with him either. I flew back to my car and sped back down the road to get to him. The idea of him alone, thinking we had abandoned him, was tearing my heart out. As I pulled back onto our street, I could clearly see my baby boy sitting at the end of our sidewalk with his head in his hands, crying his eyes out. It was heartbreaking. He was physically fine, but he was hurt and afraid about being left behind. That’s a pretty big mistake, but guess what… He survived and barely remembers it today.
God knows we are screw-ups. It’s the whole reason He sent his Son. He understands it is ALL up to Him: their safety, their health, their joy, their peace, and their success in life. I think He really just hopes we understand that too. He allows us to be involved in raising HIS kids because He wants to demonstrate, through our relationships with them, the intense love of a parent for a child, making clear His love for us as our Father. When we make mistakes as parents, He’s right there waiting to be invited to intervene. He perfectly fills all the gaps. After all, He loves them even more than we do. What a relief!
Momming is hard, but we were never meant to do it alone. Thankfully, we have communities of moms figuring it out alongside us, and the Bible is full of parents we can emulate. Sarah was patient, Hannah was faithful, Naomi was selfless, Jochebed (Moses’ mom) was protective, and Mary was brave. Their examples direct and encourage us, and so do those of the moms in our daily spheres. Having friends on the same path is invaluable, sharing their journeys and advice transparently. Locking arms with the moms around you and helping each other out will get us through the tough times. When new moms are exhausted, be a babysitter. When the moms of teenagers are at their wits’ end, be an encourager. When empty nest moms are discouraged and looking for a new purpose, be supportive. When your mom friends are crying, bring Kleenex and candy, and when they are celebrating victories, bring balloons and cupcakes! We need each other! Momming may be hard, but with good friends and a whole lot of Jesus, our kids have a real shot at greatness!