… and other reasons you should have them.
My life now is nothing like it was before I had kids.
I have much less freedom now. There’s no such thing as “just” leaving the house or “popping over” anywhere. I used to pop around all the time before I had kids. “Ducking”, too – I used to do that a lot! Now going anywhere takes more planning than a royal wedding. It requires trips to the toilet, nappy changes, packing the food, packing changes of clothes, feeding the baby, buckling everyone into their car seats, then unbuckling everyone, opening the pram, holding hands, navigating roads safely, scouting out the location of the nearest toilet, etc.
Life is hectic. Truly. Just the other night I had a dream/nightmare that I was at some kind of giant airport/movie theatre/entertainment park with all three kids and we had to stay there for two hours. It had different levels, but there were no escalators, only giant slides. And I had to send my daughter down one of them ahead of us, and she fell off the bottom and got knocked unconscious, but the slide attendant just shrugged and said “it happens all the time”. Then the baby started screaming and then my son had to go to the toilet… then I woke up.
I say it was a dream, but you don’t have to read into it too hard to see why I am dreaming about things like that!
I can’t go to the toilet when nature calls. This too requires special planning! Okay, baby’s asleep, the kids are happily engrossed in building duplos… now’s my chance! Even then, the kids seems to have inbuilt sensors that detect when I’m on the loo so they can all rush at me with their urgent questions like, “Mummy, when is it my birthday?” and “Can you read me this book?”
Physically speaking, my body is not my own. The baby still relies on me for breast milk. And even though the older two are becoming more independent by the day, they still need me to physically do so much for them, like make them food and tie up shoe laces and wipe their bottoms. And they all need my physical presence emotionally; my hugs and kisses to show them they are loved.
So, in a sense, having kids has well and truly ruined my life, the life I had before. It’s not the same, it’s never going to be the same.
But I’m so thankful.
And not just thankful despite all of the above, but because of it.
Because of all these struggles that come with having kids, I have grown and am growing in ways I never would have without them.
The Bible talks about this concept often – that God uses our struggles and our sufferings to grow us and make us more like Jesus.
“ Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.”
Not that having kids is suffering, at least not all the time. But it is definitely hard. And in this way, I think this passage from Romans can be a great encouragement for us mothers.
It’s not hard for no reason!
If we don’t give up, mothering our children through the good and the hard times will produce endurance, character and hope in us.
And this (among other things) is why I think young women should be intentional about pursuing motherhood.
At this point, let me pause and say I know this will not be possible for everyone, and that this can be a very painful subject for some. Some of you desperately want to be a mother but you can’t because of struggles with infertility, or you haven’t met someone you want to marry yet, or you are married but your husband isn’t ready for kids, or any other number of reasons it hasn’t happened. I’m so sorry you’re in that position, and I hope this post doesn’t add to your burden – I am speaking here to young women who have a choice to make about which direction they will take.
So, here’s what I think is fantastic about the task of raising children:
- It teaches you selflessness. I used to think that it was impossible to be selfish and a parent, but the astounding need for foster carers says otherwise. I do think it’s impossible to be selfish and a good parent though. When you have kids, you have to consider their needs above your own. As kids get older, of course we teach them how to put others first and to wait before having certain needs met. But they enter this world completely dependent on us, and for good reason. I’ve found that as I lay down my own desires day after day, and commit myself to the good of these little ones under my care, I learn more about the love God has for me. I learn that Jesus was driven by pure, unselfish love when he gave up his life on the cross, for the good of all who would follow him. And I see that God is equipping me with the selflessness of Christ that I need to live out the life of sacrifice He has called me to.
- Raising kids has eternal value. Everything that we do on this earth has value, if we are “doing it all to the glory of God”. But still, most of it will pass away. What we invest into our children, in the way of teaching them about the Lord and shaping their characters, will last for eternity. We don’t have control over their eternal fate (whether they go to heaven or hell), but we do have great influence. This eternal significance of mothering is something I often come back to on the mundane or difficult days. I remind myself that the little choices I make in how to speak to my children, how I behave around them and what to teach them will add up to big aspects of their character later.
- Raising kids is a lasting legacy. Similar to the above point, it helps me to know that I am spending my time doing something of value. I often think about the career I may have one day – I would love to be a paid writer, that would be my “dream job”. But if that never happens, I’m okay with it. I know that I have spent (and will spend) my time doing something of great value.
- It’s so much fun! Seriously, sometimes I look outside and see the big kids helping each other climb a tree or I hear the baby happily shrieking about a piece of cloth, and I just have to pinch myself that this is my life. Every day I get to watch each child learn new skills or new facts about the world. Every day I have the chance to enjoy the company of these three little entertainers, who find so much joy in simple life it’s contagious.
Those are just a few of the amazing things about being a Mum that I can think of now – I’m sure more will come to me later.
I hope it inspires you and encourages you. 🙂