Sometimes, on a good day, my husband tells me I have “a nice, Mom heart.” On a bad day, I can be found in my covers, wishing I had become a nun instead!!
So I am not sure what triggers my Nice Mom Heart to come on some days, and off on others. But I am pretty sure I have made progress from my single days when I was scared stiff of having a family. I am going to try and pinpoint some key beliefs that helped me make the transition.
1a) As long as I am single, I have freedom to do whatever I want.
While I admit that on my “nun-wishing” days, I still think this, this statement is actually false. Now I believe:
1b) Freedom is a quality that comes from within.
What makes me feel constricted is not the office of Mom, as I think of it. Rather, it is the state of my heart. In fact, becoming a mom has helped me value purity even more than I used to because I realize how important not being in sin is to functioning each day. When I was single, I could be as pure as I wanted to be. Now I am forced to be as pure as I need to be. If my heart is bound up in bad stuff—addicted to coffee or sugar, resentful of serving others all the time, bitter that I don’t have privacy or my needs met, lustful of the new kitchen somebody built or the new job opportunity they just got, angry at people or worried by habit—I will not make it. I am forced to confront and repent of my sin every day, lest my children pick it up or get the shaft because Mommy’s emotions aren’t on straight.
Moreover, I realize that I didn’t really feel free anyway when I was single. When I was single, I felt too alone. And I felt like the world system was constricting me. So I would have still had to deal with that loneliness and victimization if I was ever going to do great exploits.
Another key belief I had was:
2a) I’ll have to put my life on hold when I have a family. Then I’ll resurface when it’s over.
While mothering is definitely a self-denying task, I now realize:
2b) God is adding to my identity as I lay myself down. So being a mom actually accelerates and purifies my purpose in life.
I am now forced to figure out what is important to me and fight for it. Unnecessary or prideful parts of my identity are stripped away because I just don’t have enough time to humor them. This has been humbling and interesting. Things that I thought were “just part of me” turned out not to be. Other things I didn’t realize were so important came into full view. I realized I can skip my showers, forego homecooked meals, stay up late, stop journaling, put my art projects on hold, miss favorite TV shows, and substitute shopping trips for playground visits. But I can’t go a day without meaningful music, taking a walk outside, reading academic books, playing a little game (like a puzzle or crossword), or thinking about changing the color paint on my walls 😉 Also, simple pleasures like a folded basket of laundry has become a daily high!
The point is, I realize I have the true freedom to do whatever I want to do, or to make my own family however I want. (God bless America). But that is a very thought-provoking and responsibility-laden path. Quite a project! And most importantly, I realize motherhood is part of the journey, not a parenthetical experience. God isn’t giving me dreams that I can fulfill when my parenting days are over, but is actually forming the person I’m supposed to be through the crucible and blessing of parenthood. The kids have added so much to my life, and shaped my hopes and likes considerably, so that I am no longer the person I always wanted to be but closer to the person God has always wanted me to be. (I think I always wanted to be His person anyway, I just didn’t think I really could be, so I put it out of the question.)