It doesn’t seem like that long ago when I was playing dolls with my sister and swinging carefree on our swing set in the backyard. Now I am not merely playing house anymore; I am trying to find a way to manage my own real life household.
Sometimes when the kids are getting out of control, there are messes to clean up, and dinner needs to be made, I look around and wonder “now who’s going to take care of this?” Then it dawns on me and I realize, oh that would be me!
While I am comfortably past the phase where I stumbled around in that new mom sleep deprived stupor, I still long for the days when I was someone else’s responsibility instead of the other way around.
I took it all for granted: the trips to the playground, library, and pool, the three square meals a day, a freezer and cabinets stocked with our favorite treats, new clothes every season, etc. As a kid, I didn’t realize how much time, effort, and money went into every single childhood and adolescent memory. How much preparation went on behind the scenes of every vacation, birthday party, and play date.
I just sat back and enjoyed it, for the most part. There were times when I would let my ungrateful attitude show, however, and my mother would make no bones about how displeased she was with it.
My own kids are too young to recognize everything it takes to parent them also. At 8 and 5, they have an extremely limited ability to appreciate all that I do for them. If I am doing any of this for recognition though, I will be very disappointed.
I will become bitter and resentful towards my children, and they will become a burden instead of a joy. Jesus said, “Come to me, all who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” I am finding this verse to be very applicable in this season of my life.
Our 2nd grader and preschooler often plow right through my orderly, structured world with their sticky fingers, loud voices, and talent for destroying any room they are in, in less than 60 seconds. I feel downright weary some days with all the work that goes into mothering.
All the behind-the-scenes prayer, fretting, prayer, frustrated sighs, tear-filled conversations with friends, and did I mention PRAYER that they are totally oblivious to and might never even thank me for someday. This right here is unconditional love; it is not reciprocated.
What I do for my children will not be returned in kind, no matter how long I live. Nevertheless, I do it all because I love them and want the best for them. I know not to expect anything in return. This is how God loves us.
His love is completely unselfish and perfect, since there is absolutely nothing I can offer Him. He desires that we love Him for who He is, too, instead of what He can give us.
Of course, God also wants us to remain in a posture of gratitude for everything He does for us just like I want my children to be grateful. This doesn’t mean I lord every little thing over their heads and demand that they appreciate my hard work and sacrifices, however. I shouldn’t act like a martyr in our home, feeling as though they somehow owe me. Motherhood is about serving, just like any other ministry.
When it’s not convenient.
When I am exhausted.
When no one else sees.
When it seems fruitless.
It behooves me to remember that Jesus came to serve, not to be served- especially on those days when I feel more like a maid or cook than a mother.
If I’m not careful, I can see myself as just someone who feeds, teaches, and clothes my children, does their laundry, and shuttles them around from one activity to another. God has called me to so much more than that!
I am investing in their lives, pouring my life into theirs. I am raising them to know and love the Lord and His Word. I am laying down my desires, my comfort, and quite often my plans for them.
I am publicly testifying that I value what God values, and that I refuse to value what the world values.
From that perspective, all the minutes, hours, days, and years that go into taking care of and serving my children are hardly wasted when stacked against the amount of appreciation I’ll actually receive for that time.
It’s not like I will get to hand them a bill when they turn 18 with the total amount their father and I have spent on them during those years. I may not get to collect financially or emotionally on my investment, but I know that I will have “stored up treasures in heaven”.
There are so many things that capture our attention each day, and a lot of it is good. But a whole lot of it is also a waste of time. Will the things I have invested my time and energy into last forever, or will they fade away?
It’s not about what I get in return, but delighting in my children so they feel safe and loved while they grow into the person God designed them to be and fulfill their own unique callings.
Marisa is a homeschooling mom of two and author of Bucking The System: Reclaiming Our Children’s Minds For Christ. She writes to encourage women to find purpose and joy in their God-given calling as mothers, helping them raise children with a biblical worldview. She relies on Jesus and coffee to get her through the day, and loves marveling at the culture differences between New Jersey where she grew up and Oklahoma where her family has been transplanted! You can find more of her writings over at her blog, calledtomothering.com and on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/calledtomothering/ ) and Pinterest (https://www.pinterest.com/marisaboonstra/ )