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So Hard, But So, So Good: Gratitude and Freedom in Being the Mom

Updated: May 3

A grateful mom hugging her precious daughter

We were about 20 minutes in to the Maundy Thursday service when the little guy (or girl) started to make a fuss. I could tell mom (or dad) was trying to calm him, but he was having none of it, and in a few moments the big door quietly opened and closed, allowing parent and child to continue their work outdoors.

Boy, could I relate.

This was a routine part of my experience for about ten years, at least. During those years of being in a nearly constant state of being either pregnant or nursing, (six pregnancies, five live births), the times I was able to truly enter into a worship service were few and far-between.

I'm not gonna lie, I spent a fair amount of time feeling sorry for myself; my husband was really pretty good about being willing to take a turn at this sort of thing, but still, almost all of the child- and home-related responsibilities fell to me, and the lack of freedom often got to me.

It seemed the lives of my husband, and men in general, were characterized by freedom! They never had to seek childcare, could freely make plans to meet friends for lunch or for a drink after work, and he even traveled the world as part of his job! Not only that, he had the affirmation of a paycheck, bonuses and promotions; I had to ask for spending money.

There was an "aha" moment somewhere along the way when I realized how grateful I was--grateful for the freedom I actually had--to stay at home and train my kids, to not have to deal with some of the jerks (I'd met several of them) my husband had to work for, that the burden of paying for everything didn't fall to me, and most of all, grateful for the blessing of being so near my children, so much of the time.

Was it hard? Huge understatement--I was constantly "on", almost always worried I wasn't doing enough for them, concerned (because we homeschooled) about their education, almost always tired, and increasingly isolated and lonely (my own fault). And then there was that thing of always being the one to take them out of the church service, address misbehavior in public, yadda yadda yadda.

I wish I'd focused more on gratitude, and less on what I thought I was missing out on.

Was it worth it? Again, huge understatement. I mean, there's nothing else with such an amazing return on investment: You start with the satisfaction of bringing a human life into the world, progress to they joys of watching them grow, helping soothe their sorrows, teaching them to read, watching them learn to treat others with respect; then there's amazement at their achievements, awards, degrees, careers, delight when they choose a wonderful mate!

Capping it all off is that next level, when they have their own children and you see them finally get a tiny inkling of the love you have for them, and even more, the love God has for us. You nearly burst when you hear them thank you for all you've done for them. 

And you know that, as you grow old, they'll have your back. You aren't going to be alone.

I know this is not what everyone experiences, and I don't want to minimize that, or suggest that if you'd done it "right" you'd have had better results. Every child grows up to make his own choices and decisions.

I know, or at least I believe, that my journey could have been a less stressful one if I'd spent more time with friends, less time fretting, and more time being grateful.

But I don't regret investing myself in my kids, listening to, reading to, teaching, training, correcting, playing with, worrying about, and praying for them.

I'm writing this on Good Friday. On this day, Christians remember the sacrifice Jesus made so that we could be free to live fully, in relationship with God. 

Mothers have a unique understanding of this, because that's what we do in a very small way, every day; we sacrifice ourselves--our time, rest, preferences, sometimes careers or hobbies or other things--so that our children can be free to live fully, and to make the potential of having an enduring relationship with them a reality; and as counterintuitive as it is, when you give yourself away, you gain true freedom!

Say "thank you" in your heart today, moms. Is it hard? You bet. And in many ways, nobody will ever really know just how hard it is. But it is so, so good.

Note: If you need help making your life as a mom easier, visit my website; choose from several free resources, or explore the possibility of setting up some coaching with me. Send this blog post to a friend who might need some encouragement!

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