"He brought me up also out of an horrible pit, out of the miry clay, and set my feet upon a rock, and established my goings." Psalm 40:2

A spontaneous ramble about motherhood

Due to my recent dog-washing-and-overall-doing-too-much folly, what was supposed to be a monthly ‘atta-girl’ chiropractor/physical therapy appointment ended up with me starting at square one. Again.

Thankfully, my chiro is very kind when I return to him in pain, despite the thoughts of frustration which may rightly enter his mind. (The old familiar sound of my friend Em scolding “Honey-child, you brought it on yourself!” rings in my ears already!)

My chiro has a delightful and sarcastic wit, which I greatly appreciate. I tend to try to lighten up stressful or difficult situations with humor, and I respond well to others who do the same. Sometimes, while I lie ‘cooking’ under the electrodes, we’ll chat a bit about core strength, exercise, and nutrition, priorities and routine — all of which is very convicting, mind you.

I don’t exactly have a great track record for stewardship of this body. Try as I might, I have never been able to maintain a consistent exercise regimen for any substantial amount of time. As beautifully as I can schedule it in on paper, I find it insurmountable to actually accomplish, and one of my challenges (excuses) is working it in realistically around my obligations as a mother.

To which my chiro jokingly advised: abandon the kids!

On the outside, I laughed, because he wasn’t serious, of course. His elaboration was even funnier – something about selling them off and giving him commission.

I didn’t say anything aloud, but on the inside, I cringed, because I’d just used my kids as an excuse. I cringed, because that’s precisely what my mom did to my brothers and me: She abandoned us because we were in the way of what she wanted for herself.

I love my mom, and I don’t mean any disrespect towards her. I’ve forgiven her, and we enjoy a mended relationship. Her leaving is simply a regretful fact from our past. I will never forget coming home to such emptiness, to my precious nearly two-year-old brother in the arms of his babysitter and no Mommy coming back home to hold him. The scenes of that day are forever burned into my memory, and as a mother now myself, I don’t think I will ever fully understand why. Except that we were always such a burden.

That mindset is so common, though, isn’t it?

Our culture says plan your children, and be sure they don’t get in your way! Pursue your career first, and your personal goals and dreams. Kids are expensive, so make sure to save up before you let one live, and be sure not to have too many. If you get pregnant before your ducks are in a row, just kill the baby (while it’s unborn, of course). You can get another later when you actually want it. They suck the physical resources right out of your body, and you should be able to choose who you give your resources to – don’t let some helpless baby take advantage of you like that! If you don’t want a baby in there – kick it out!

Our culture says once you have children, they’re such a hassle! They ruin your sleep and your schedule, they destroy your aspirations. They do nothing but interrupt and disturb you. They pile mounds of extra work on your shoulders. They destroy your stuff. They mouth off and rebel, and aren’t worth having a real relationship with. They suck all your resources as you shower them with gifts in an attempt to appease them. They mess up your plans, and then, if you’re lucky, they leave and start their own lives and maybe make an obligatory visit from time to time.

I used to believe a lot of those lies. They’re part of the worldview I was raised to believe. Since what you do is rooted in what you believe, I suppose it’s not really so hard to imagine why a mother would abandon her kids after all. It’s a bit more compassionate than killing them, isn’t it?

Our culture makes jokes about the burden of children all. the. time.

Even in Christian circles, we joke this way.

So many of us women are visibly and vocally annoyed with these kids of ours, shoving them out of our way and out the door as much as possible. That dynamic has become a stereotypical situation we can joke about.

Christians accept portions of the world’s faulty, selfish thinking as simple facts, pass them off as ‘good’ advice between believers, and even teach them from pulpits.

And that worldview is wrong. Oh, so wrong!

Christianity is not merely a religion, it is also a lifestyle, a philosophy; a worldview.  We are supposed to think biblically about every aspect of our lives, and behave in ways consistent with that thinking.

That includes thinking biblically about children and motherhood.

In our sinfulness, we women must be prone to lack love for children, because that’s one thing Titus told the older women to teach the younger women:

“Older women likewise are to be reverent in behavior, not slanderers or slaves to much wine. They are to teach what is good, and so train the young women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind, and submissive to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be reviled.” {Titus 2:3–5, ESV}

I can say with great certainty that loving our children biblically involves persevering, protecting, training, and nurturing – not abandoning and resenting.

My youngest son is eleven. Already, life is becoming easier to manage in many ways, since there are no longer “littles” in the house. In seven years or so, if we’re not blessed with more kiddos, our nest will be empty.

At that time I will have what I see as a ridiculous amount of freedom with my schedule. Just like my single friends, and married friends without children, I’ll be able to more easily fit in all sorts of things at my discretion.

That season will be here soon enough. I don’t need to sell off the kids now and get a head start.

For this season, I choose to love and serve my family. I choose to treat my children like the blessings they are. Even on the days that they are difficult. No one ever said parenting was easy. Indeed, parenting can be extremely challenging – but it can also be wonderful – and even on days it seems terrible, loving my children is right.

How empty would my life be without my family! How pointless would it be for me to leave the family God has blessed me with to pursue things that will ultimately burn up! It’s just wrong.

Looking back at the small-picture-here-and-now, I do have hurdles to get over, personally.

All joking aside, the point my chiro came around to that day was that I need to take care of myself so I can continue to love and take care of my family…and he’s right. I need to overcome the excuses in my head, deal with the real challenges, and be a good steward of this body, so I can continue to love my family.

Right there is the key phrase: so I can continue to love my family.

It’s not “I need to get my kids out of the way so I can work out and get healthy”, it’s “I need to prioritize my health so I can continue to love my family.”

God help me to think right.

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2 Responses to “A spontaneous ramble about motherhood”

  1. kevinjandt

    Awesome… Had all the sentiments of the world going through my head. This is certainly obligatory to have a couple kids… do our best to raise ’em, kick ’em out so we can get on with real life.

    Then I was saved. God began to work on our hearts and we now have a 14 year old, 12 year old, 2 year old and a newborn. Wow, who would have thought it. And at 48 years of age the world thinks we are nuts.

    this is a wonderful reminder of my new desires and realization that raising children to the glory of God to be arrows in the hands of a warrior is the greatest calling we have alongside with the opportunity to preach the gospel.

    Really enjoyed this article.

    Kevin

    • Jenni

      What a testimony to God’s work in your heart, Kevin!

      My, yes, that word ‘obligation’ is spot on. “Follow the ‘script’ or miss out!”, says the world, when in reality following the world’s script causes us to miss out on the most. 😦

      Indeed, raising children to the glory of God is the greatest calling we have alongside sharing the Gospel! Amen and amen! And in raising them, we get to do both, as we preach to them! <3!

      I'm thankful this was an encouragement to you. Your comment is an encouragement to me.

      Blessings to you!

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