The hardest and best job I’ve ever had is being a mom.
Before the girls were young, I devoured a book called What to Expect When You’re Expecting. It prepared me for prenatal screenings, and it gave me good advice on proper nutrition and preparing a nursery.
But I had no idea what to expect when it came to wonky sleep schedules for babies or postpartum depression. As the girls got older, raising children became even more complex.
When should they be allowed to have a phone?
When is dating ok?
How do I deal with my child’s anxiety?
How can I protect my child from bullies?
I had no clue how hard it would to “let go” when you just wanted to hang on for dear life, and protect them from failure and pain and gossip and disappointment.
It’s a job that has given me intense seasons of joy, when I felt like I’d swallowed a star. And then there have been seasons of great sorrow, when I begged God to fix the deep anguish of a broken-hearted child.
I’ve worried more times than I can count that I was messing up my kids, that I wasn’t offering the right advice, or that I was giving too MUCH advice, when what they really needed was someone to listen. I worried that I worked too much, didn’t read them enough books, gave in too easily.
I still don’t know what I’m doing.
Over the years, my kids have heard me saying things like, “I’ve never parented a teenager before.” “I’ve never parented through a pandemic before.” It is a way of giving myself grace, while letting my children know that I didn’t have this parenting thing figured out. That I knew I was a rookie. That I was human too. And that more than anything, this mama needed more than another cup of coffee.
She needed Jesus.
Often, I have wished for a manual for motherhood — some kind of “What to Expect When Your Kid is a Teen.”
But this is what I know now, with one kid leaving college in a month, and another not far behind. In my most insecure moments as a mom, the only thing that ever gave me hope and guidance was the gospel. Not a self-help book. Not a checklist. Not some other mom’s advice. But Jesus alone.
Jesus has been our steady guide and friend through some really hard decisions, hard moments in hospitals, hard choices about a lot of things that you don’t always see on Instagram. And, He has also been with us as we watched our girls grow and spread their wings and soar to become the young ladies God made them to be.
Mama, how is your heart today? Do you feel unseen, unsure, uncertain? Do you have zero clue “What to Expect” in the season ahead? Give yourself some grace today. “You’ve never parented through ________________ (fill in the blank) before.”
As authors Laura Wifler and Emily Jensen say in their book, Risen Motherhood, “We don’t need the world’s version of motherhood; we need a risen motherhood, transformed by the resurrection of our Lord and Savior.”
Seasons will change.
Your children will change and grow.
YOU will change and grow.
This is part of a divine process. Parenting isn’t just a thing we do to move our children on to the next stage of life. It’s the thing God uses to transform US as HIS children. Even as we parent, God is parenting US. He is with us. He is guiding and leading us. We are being grown slowly and purposefully toward His tender heart.
It’s okay if you don’t have a clue what you’re doing right now, Mama. Hold on to Jesus. He is in this with you.