Kids & Parenting
Excerpt from The Beauty of Woman as Mother
by Rebecca Mack
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As my life took on this new form, being a mother and all that entails, I found myself searching for the strength to really live the way God intended me to live. I did not become a mother in the traditional way. But God works through our sins and as He uses them to do His work, we are drawn closer to His heart, into His love. The tapestries of our lives are woven with threads of gold, worked and sewn with His loving hands. We often stray from the path He has chosen, our threaded lines dark and shadowed. But as we step back and look, when we come to a place where we are capable of seeing, we realize that along those dark and shadowed lines of our paths, along the faults and follies, there is a slight golden thread, running right along beside it, drawing us back to the lustrous colors of the life God has planned for us.
Being a mother, for me, has been really difficult. Some of the difficulties I have encountered are normal. In the beginning, the sleepless nights and oceans of tears. The inevitable 180 my life did as I became accustomed to taking care of someone other than myself, my every breath checked and hesitant upon hers. Then, the worries as she grew and changed and hit milestones. As she fell and got back up and fell again; as she cried in frustration, as I cried, when I couldn’t understand what she wanted.
Some of the difficulties, however, were more on a personal level. Some mothers do not go through this. Some are at a point in life where they are more than ready for a baby and are willing to give up every aspect of their “free” life to have one. Of course, even at this point, there is some getting used to, some measures of change that are often difficult to wrestle with, but I think it’s in the wanting these changes that they become ready to accept their life being turned upside-down and inside out. For me, I wasn’t ready. Obviously. I was not at a point where I could even begin to think of anyone else’s health and well-being if it depended on me to be sustained.
There’s something to be said about the first few months of a baby’s life-the natural flow of time, the interruptions in the normalcy’s of life, the standard follow-up to a baby’s birth; routines and feedings, closure, renewal. Rest. That first perfect moment when you realize what God has just placed into your hands and the importance of your place in their life. After all, it isn’t about you, it’s about them. Always.
However, at first I did not realize the beautiful gift God was handing me by allowing me to become pregnant. I was afraid that my life was over. I was worried that I was going to miss so much. I still struggle with this at times, when I am overwhelmed and become doubtful. Even now, having had a second child as well, I struggle with the idea that the world is passing me by while I sit at home with my two babies, cleaning my house and being faithful to my husband. But God works through our doubt, through our worries, through our fear. He has brought me around to an understanding of the truth. He has given me knowledge of His love and how, by following Him, we miss nothing and gain everything.
The glamour of the evils of the outside world, the life I used to live, that is what ends up being what I sometimes miss. I often forget how painful those years were, how lonely and confusing. I often block out the fact that I was living a pointless life; I was doing nothing with myself but giving myself away. How lost I was. How broken.
The Lord picked me up out of that life. He used my sin to bring me back to the path He was sewing for me. The path I am on now, being a mother, is much harder but in a different way. Before, it was difficult because I didn’t feel like I had anyone to help me through the emotional obstacles I encountered from day to day. I think I always knew somewhere deep in my heart that God was with me, but how could I see or hear Him when I was only looking and listening to myself? My current path is hard because I want to be the best mother I can be, to live my life the way God wants me to live it instead of the easy way of the world, doing what I want, when I want.
I think that my past and the way I came to be a mother has been a huge part of learning to see and know and understand and love the beauty of motherhood. Some take it for granted. Some refuse to even acknowledge that it is a wonderful aspect of a woman’s life. Some hate it. Some are resentful of it. I could be resentful. But God really opened my eyes so that I was able to see the way He took my life and caused me to become a different, much better person in spite of it. And in the long run, what I “gave up,” what I “miss out on” sometimes, what I would be if I wasn’t a mother now, none of that is worth what I have now. None of it seems even significant except in the aspect of being the stepping stone, a very large stepping stone, right before this one in my life, the catalyst that lead to my becoming a mother. It really makes me appreciate motherhood more than if I had entered it in the “right” way.
Being a mother of two small children has taught me so many things. Patience is definitely one of them. How could I have ever learned patience if I never had a reason to use it? I can’t count how many times my daughter has tested my patience and how many times I’ve been quick to fail. Patience is a virtue, one of many I believe we receive through trials God allows us to go through. Being a mother definitely puts us through trials! Becoming a mother was, at one point, my greatest trial. I had so many things pulling me in the opposite direction, to not accept this beautiful gift, to not follow a better path than the one I was currently on. I knew that if I didn’t put everything into being a mother, I couldn’t do it at all. Our children deserve to have a fully-dedicated mother, not one that gives and takes as she sees fit for what is (selfishly) “best” for herself. For a while, I struggled with this, trying to decide to take that huge leap into “Motherhood Unlimited” and never look back.
The beauty of being a mother is in the many virtues we receive, the willingness to withhold ourselves from falling into the traps of giving up, and the timelessness in our ventures of following God’s path for us; of raising our children to not just be citizens of society but to shape the world and mold it into a positive place that emulates His love. Some mothers have a hard time seeing this beautiful gift we are given, the power we have as our beloved children’s keepers. Some of us know it’s there but can never grasp a true understanding of what is being asked of us. I always pray that I can be, even in the remotest way, the type of mother who sees this beauty and uses it in the proper manner. It’s hard to ever fully understand the great measure of this gift.
I have also learned of the true beauty of being a woman and a mother; how they intertwine and go hand-in-hand with each other. In the physical sense, my body has changed to a form that, with out being a mother, I would never have known was beautiful. My hips have grown a little wider. I have learned that this allows for a perfectly shaped and sized seat for my child’s little bottom. My skin has stretched a little and with each stretch mark that graces my belly, I am reminded of the hard work and great strength it took to push my second baby out of my body and into the world. I earned those stretch marks! My arms, too, are a little bit thicker and I have come to believe that if they were the skinny twigs they were before I had kids, they would not suffice in giving my children hugs, of holding them when they cried, or of allowing for their tiny heads to rest on as they fell asleep while nursing. My breasts have grown and stretched a little too, allowing for milk to be produced and contained for my hungry babies to feed on.
I have often wondered why God gave woman the gift of bearing a child. Why He made the nature of woman to be one of life, of nurturing, of unconditional love. Our physics, our anatomies, our hearts, are all for the purposes of bringing about new life, taking care of it, protecting and loving it. Man has a nature of love and nurturing on some level but it is not the same. God did not intend it to be. As women, we have the ability to know things only mothers can know, to do things only mothers can do. We have the perpetual supply of love and care that can never be exhausted. Our emotions are as strong as they are weak and the perfect and delicate balance between them can only belong to a mother.
Two and a half years into being a mother has also taught me that it’s okay to be imperfect. It is okay to have faults. It’s okay to not know the answers to every question asked, especially if the questions are mine. I have learned that in giving of myself in a positive and productive way, I’ve received so many blessings. I’ve learned that no matter how many children I may have, my love for them, as their mother, is capable of stretching beyond itself to the highest peaks of my children’s lives and to the lowest and darkest moments as well. I am capable of giving myself when it’s needed the most, not shutting down and retreating as I used to when things were hard.
I think one of the most important things that I have come to understand since becoming a mother, one of the most beautiful attributes a mother can have, is the true art of being selfless; the many acts in our day-to-day lives that whisper motives of loving and giving, of sacrificing and completely unfolding ourselves for the emotional and mental well-being of our children. Some mothers find it almost impossible to be this way. Some find it is too difficult to let go of their former lives and take on the important job of raising another human being; of sacrificing their selfish desires for love of their children. I don’t pretend to know why that occurs but I do know that it is not the natural way of being a mother. It is not the way God intended motherhood to be.
In a situation like mine was with my first child, I knew in my heart that there had to be a big change in the way I was living. I was not living just for myself anymore and I knew I had to act accordingly. I knew I had to do more, be more. Of course, there are moments that I revert to my old self-absorbed ways. When there is something I want to get done and I can’t seem to be able to think or even breathe because my 2 ½ year old is screaming in my face for attention….I know I get frustrated and ignore her pleas and often yell at her. These moments are ones of weakness and I recognize them as such, I pray and I try to respond differently next time. I can’t dwell on my mistakes, I just have to learn from them, take my lessons and move on. After all, mothers are far from perfect!
But living on a more selfless level is what we are called to do. God does not give us His children to raise for our own benefits, because we like to dress them in cute outfits and have something to show off like a dog. He does not give us children to beat or abuse or take our life’s frustrations out on, to molest and ridicule and stomp all over because that is what someone did to us. He does not intend for us to have these children only to neglect and ignore them as if they were not one of the greatest gifts God gives to His world. He gives us His children to raise so that they might go into the world as a light for other people, as a symbol of His love for the world, as a means of change. I really believe that only a parent who gives 100% of themselves to raising their children and loving them can ever come even the slightest bit closer to understanding God’s love. He gives us His children so that we may come to know and understand the perfect cycle of life, His perfect creation. They are not our children but His.
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