What I Would Tell My Younger Mom-Self
by Ruth Schwenk
I always dreamed of being a mom. From the moment I was old enough to even understand family, I knew I wanted a large family. Motherhood seemed like it would be so easy and natural. And then I became a mom.
At the time, my experience wasn’t exactly what I had imagined. I remember having my oldest son, Tyler, at the age of twenty-three. After a few hectic months of acclimating to my new role, we settled into a routine and all seemed well. Then we had number two, Bella, our first girl. I loved having a little girl and all still seemed quite peaceful. Or doable!
And then? Well, I had number three. I’ve heard many times that the transition from two to three is difficult, and boy, is that true. By the time I had my third child, I was on my fifth pregnancy, with two miscarriages included. I was officially overwhelmed and thoroughly sleep-deprived. At some point I had number four, but I can’t remember much for a while after that! Mothering was a lot. Far more challenging than I ever could have imagined.
After a few years, the cobwebs began to clear and something in me changed. My perspective shifted. I didn’t just have to limp through motherhood. This glorious and grueling calling wasn’t impossible. I was made for this. I only wish I would’ve realized it a little sooner. As I look back, here are three things I would want to tell my younger mom-self.
You will get through this. I know, in the middle of it all, there are minutes that can seem like hours. But you will get through this. We have everything we need in the Lord. When you feel worn out, remember the words found in Galatians 6:9, “Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.” The command for us moms is to keep “doing good,” to keep faithfully shepherding our children in a way that honors God and His Word. Sometimes you don’t see the fruit of your labor right away. And sometimes weariness may overtake you. In this, you must avoid discouragement and focus instead on the harvest ahead. There are going to be seasons, circumstances, or experiences that tempt you to be discouraged. But don’t lose sight of the big picture. Sometimes in the “right now” you may feel like things aren’t going to turn out well, but “at the proper time” you will receive a harvest if you do not give up.
Don’t rush the season. Oh, I remember the people that told me over and over that the years would go by so fast. The years fly by—they really do. It sounds so cliché, but I can say without a doubt they have gone by so much faster than I could have ever imagined. My oldest has two more years left with us at home. TWO MORE YEARS. I am desperate to soak in every moment we have left, and my mind is racing with all the things I want to be sure we teach him before he leaves. Today, I am much more mindful of the moments with my younger children than I was years ago. The moments and days really do matter. Be present and enjoy the season you are in. It will be in the past before you know it.
You don’t have to do everything right. A few years ago, I did a survey of some of my community at TheBetterMom.com to see how many moms struggle with feeling like they have to do everything right. Out of over 300 moms surveyed, 90 percent said that they questioned their parenting ability. Most of the moms expressed that every single day they question whether they are messing up their kids. As moms, we can heap immense amounts of unnecessary pressure upon ourselves to perform to a certain standard. The tension we feel isn’t necessarily a bad thing, because we do have a high calling in raising a child to love the Lord and be a light in the world, but we can tend to go to extremes when we parent out of fear and comparison. Discouragement can creep in when we feel like we are failing. But the good news is we don’t have to worry about doing it all right, because we will get it wrong. And even when we do, our gracious Father is in control. He loves our children even more than we do.
One of the unexpected gifts of motherhood doesn’t really have anything to do with what I’ve done as a mom, but more than anything, how God has used motherhood to change me. I am not the same person that I was sixteen years ago when my son Tyler was born. Taking care of other human beings who depend on me for their very lives has brought out the best and the worst in me. It has driven me to open my heart to God’s love and truth in ways that have deeply transformed who I am. I can look back now and say for certain I will never get it all right but I will do much more than just get through this. I will never be the same. God does His greatest work in and through our weaknesses. He graciously exposes our hearts so we might be able to see who we really are, that we might become whom He wants us to be. Not only are our kids growing up, but by God’s grace, so are we.
We’d like to hear from you. Please share your comments below or like us on your Facebook page. Be sure to check back each month for more articles and products available at your local Christian bookstore.