Recently, I opened my inbox to find a comment on this post: the one that talks about the hard, die-to-self moments of mothering. For most readers, that little post has been a source of encouragement. This commenter, however, saw it differently. She replied that she never wants kids, and that this post reinforced that decision for her and makes the task of mothering sound like a “sucky” job.
I deleted her comment because I felt it was mean-spirited, but looking back I feel I need to reply. Because you know what? I get it. Looking in on the hard moments of mothering can make the role seem unappealing. There are times when I glance around, and I feel self-pity and defeat. Hard moments abound. But the better news is that there’s an even bigger truth that covers those difficult times. And that truth is this: while mothering is hard, it’s also the most rewarding role I have ever known!
Being a mother has been my hardest task and yet my greatest joy. If anyone had told me how I would feel the first time they laid my newborn atop my chest, I would’ve scarcely believed them. Because no one can explain what happens to a mother when she holds her child for the first time.
Motherhood is a sacred relationship that gives us a flesh-and-blood glimpse into the goodness of God. The beauty and the giftedness of life become suddenly, startlingly clear. This life itself is the first miracle of birth. The second is what that new life does to a mom: turns her inside out so that her heart is walking around outside her body wearing skin. I couldn’t have anticipated the intensity of that second miracle. But in those first moments with my firstborn, I knew I would never be the same. And these overwhelming affections happened again with my second child and with my third. Because there is no limit to a mother’s heart. It doesn’t exhaust its reserves or grow dry. Instead, it grows exponentially.
I don’t pretend to understand how that happens, but I know that the bond of a woman to her child is a profound mystery that only a mother can fathom. That’s what a child does: he wraps his mother’s heart in a miracle that spans the width and breadth of a lifetime. And it’s this bond—a heart tie that defies time and distance—that makes this role of mothering such a sacred privilege! It makes the die-to-self moments worth it; it redeems the sleepless nights, the endless diaper changes, the training, the disciplining, the directing.
Motherhood takes us outside of ourselves. It puts us in the refiner’s fire only to pull us out a bit more purified, our spirits a bit more malleable. It is hard, it is sanctifying, but it is the most rewarding job I’ve ever known, and it is the highest calling to which I’ll rise. My children fill me with light and life like no one else can, and I never knew I possessed such capacity to love until I met them.
If you don’t understand that, if you don’t understand that the hardships of motherhood are worth the relationship, then I can’t explain it. I can’t make your heart expand to feel things it has never imagined. Because the truth is … only a child can do that, only a child who calls you “Mom.”
My firstborn is now six. He’s a curious, full-of-energy rambunctious little boy, and he tests my limits at times and pushes my patience beyond it’s breaking point. My second is four; she’s a fierce, stubborn little girl who sometimes brings me to my knees. And the baby … the baby is only rarely sleeping through the night, and she’s recently began to exert her independence. As their mother, I have moments, days, weeks that are hard indeed. But I love these children with a heart-cry that defies description, and it’s the beautiful mystery of this sacred relationship that makes the hard work worth it! The six-year-old arms that drape long around my neck, the four-year-old’s quiet “I love you” whispers as she drifts off to sleep, the baby’s squeals of delight as I lift her little frame … these moments redeem the hard times.
These kids changed me by their birth, and I suspect they will continue to change me for the good through the length of my days, molding me, stretching me, refining me until I finally breathe my last. I wouldn’t want it any other way.
So although motherhood is not easy, motherhood is worth it. It’s worth the work, the weariness, the stretching, the testing. It’s worth the sacrifices and the laying down of self, because the reward is infinitely greater than the work! There is nothing that can replace the depth and breadth of a mother’s relationship with her child. Apart from a relationship with Christ, there is no affection as soul-searing, no heart tie as binding. Yes, the role of motherhood requires work, but I’ll gladly do it. Because motherhood is worth it; it will always be worth it!
UPDATE: Want to join the Motherhood Is Worth It movement? Then I’d love to invite you to share your own thoughts across social media and/or on your blog about what redeems the hard times of motherhood, what makes all that work worth it. Using the hashtag #motherhoodisworthit, let us hear your heart! I can only imagine how encouraging it would be to see a tribe of truth-telling mamas sharing about the motherhood experience and how the relationship with their children redeems the dirty diapers, stinky laundry and endless cleaning. Because #motherhoodisworthit. It will always be worth it! If you would like to download the above image to use across social media as you chime in with your thoughts, click here.
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