God’s Timing in Motherhood

Photo from Pixabay

I turned forty nearly a month ago, and although I have been wanting to share about it for awhile, I have been procrastinating a bit because the topic I feel most compelled to write about is one that makes me feel vulnerable and is least relevant to my readers. It has to do with how I have been feeling lately as a forty-year-old mother to a toddler son.

I mourned the fact that I would be an older mom (if one at all) when JJ and I were newly engaged. The feeling took me by surprise since it seemed so incongruous to the joy I felt as I prepared to marry the man I loved. The truth is, I was seriously starting to wonder if I’d ever get married before meeting JJ. My twenties and early thirties passed me by with a lot of solo moments and a whole lot of questions about my future and romance. So, when JJ entered my life and we got engaged shortly before my 35th birthday, it wasn’t something I took for granted. I saw God’s fingerprints all over our story, and I was deeply grateful for what He was writing of it.

Nonetheless, I found myself in tears the first few weeks of our engagement as I mourned the fact that I’d never be a young mom. Fortunately, I was able to recognize that I was allowing the enemy to rob me of my joy, so I asked God to help me fully enjoy the moment, and He did. My sadness diminished as I reveled in the fact that God had truly answered my prayers for a husband. Life was sweet.

Several months later, JJ and I got married, and since neither of us were ready for children right away, we waited a full year until we both were. Fortunately for us, God blessed us with a baby boy ten months later. I was 37 at the time.

The first few months after Liam was born, I didn’t have time to think about my age. As I slowly started to venture out a bit more, however, I began to meet other moms with young children and was quickly reminded of just how old I was. And while the younger moms expressed their sadness over approaching their thirties, I was thinking forward to my son’s high school graduation and wondering just how many people would mistake me for his grandmother.

Life as an older mom has proven to be emotionally hard throughout the short time that I have been one, and although part of that hardship is based on my physical appearance in the midst of moms that are young and wrinkle free, a bigger part of it has to do with knowing that I will not always be able to keep up with my son as many younger moms will. My age is already playing a physical part in my parenting more than I would like it to, and turning forty has only intensified the reality of the impact my age has on my parenting. Nonetheless, I know these thoughts and feelings don’t have to have the final say in this topic. When I think of my age, I also think of Biblical characters that became mothers at much greater ages, and I’m reminded of how miraculous, beautiful, and noteworthy their stories were as a result.

I think of Sarah, who had to wait until she was ninety before having a son. But it was precisely after all those years of barrenness and in the biologically impossible stage of bearing children that God delighted to miraculously cause her to conceive and give birth to a son. And I think of Elizabeth, who was barren until she, too, became advanced in age. But God performed a similar miracle for her and also blessed her with a baby son.

Moreover, I think of the stories of Rebekah, Rachel, and Hannah, who also struggled with infertility and no doubt begged God through tears for Him to give them a child as they hoped and waited for what may have seemed like an eternity. And although they did not have to wait until their childbearing years had passed to conceive a child, their stories were still very much orchestrated by God and glorifying to Him as a result of His answer to their prayers.

There is something even more magnificent about these stories than the initial miracle of each birth, however. God blessed these women with children that would make a historical and spiritual impact on the world, and through the recording of their stories in the Scriptures, men and women are still being impacted by them today. The prolonged time of waiting, which was likely a source of shame to these women at one point, became the very thing that highlighted God’s miraculous work in their lives and the meaningful story He was writing for them and their offspring.

When I think of the story of these women and their children, I am encouraged to see my story in a new light. Although my long wait was not due to infertility, it was a wait nonetheless that included tearful prayers that God would allow me to be a mother someday. And although no one would label my pregnancy as anything miraculous, I still saw God’s hand on it, blessing me in that stage of life.

I never would have chosen to become a first-time mother at an older age, just like Sarah, Elizabeth, Hannah, Rebekah, and Rachel wouldn’t have waited so long to become mothers themselves. But God chose the timing of motherhood for me, just like He did for them. He chose for me to be a middle-aged toddler mom, so I want to trust that He will accomplish His purposes in motherhood at this stage of my life for me and through me for the benefit of my husband and son.

We often may not understand God’s timing in our lives, but we can rest assured of this—His timing is perfect, and He can use each orchestrated moment to showcase His glorious work in our lives, so let these be the truths that stay with us as the years pass by. May the areas of our lives that have somehow caused us shame become the very things that God uses to highlight His mighty work in us and to write for us a much greater story—one that will have an impact for eternity.

Sweeping Up Pine Cones

I was probably on Facebook when it happened. I confess I have been escaping to it far too often nowadays. I finished looking at the image on my screen, then I set my phone down and turned around to investigate the mysterious rustling noise that was following the pitter patter of my toddler’s footsteps.

I already knew he had a plastic bag by the sound of things. I headed toward the living room, fully prepared to tear it out of his hands and withstand the temper tantrum that would likely ensue. What I wasn’t accounting for was the cluster of pine cones strewn across the tile floor as I made my way towards my son. I had forgotten about the pine cones altogether up until that moment. A friend of mine had given them to me months ago when she learned I was making a wreath. Since I finished the wreath before she could give them to me, however, I stuck the bag in a desk drawer to save for another day—a Christmassy, craft-making sort of day. Unfortunately, Liam had other ideas.

I let out a slow, audible sigh as the familiar feeling of hopelessness perched on my shoulders and pressed down on me. I already felt exhausted by current news events. An added chore left me feeling overwhelmed. The one true glimmer of hope at the moment was that Liam was due for a nap, so I got him down and grabbed a broom, all the while trying to muster up some energy for the task at hand.

After picking up the pine cones, I swept up the remaining pieces. As unhappy as I was about the additional chore that day, I was grateful for the decision it caused me to make, which was this: I’m not going to feel bad for having a hard time keeping up with the housework. At least, I’m going to try not to feel bad about it anymore.

The pine cone incident was the vivid reminder I needed for what I already knew—that my cute little boy is sabotaging my housekeeping efforts. He does so by making a number of messes daily. He also does so by slowing down any progress I make towards a clean home, squirming his way in between me and the kitchen counters when I’m trying to clean them or whining to be held when I’m in the middle of vacuuming. And let’s not even mention the countless number of times he asks for another snack when I’m trying to wash the dishes or sweep the kitchen floor! It’s no wonder household chores can be so daunting!

I’ve read enough to know that I’m just supposed to say by now that I’ll embrace the mess because my kid won’t be young forever, and memories made with him are far more important.

I certainly want to make memories with him and am, but I can’t bring myself to embrace the mess. Instead, I find myself thinking of how productive I was before I had a child. Although JJ doesn’t seem to mind that our loveseat has currently become a permanent spot for the latest load of clean laundry or that the sink nearly always has dirty dishes in it, I find myself reminding him of my past glory years as well, the years when I accomplished so much! He nods, unsure of what to say, and I silently wonder what became of the woman I once was.

Recently, I have realized how unfair it has been to compare myself to the woman I once was. No one would promote a woman to a new role within her company and give her new responsibilities only to expect her to do her former full-time job along with the new one. In essence, this is the expectation I have placed on myself.  Granted, I can’t just promote myself out of the tasks of cleaning and cooking now that I’m a mom. They have followed me into this new role and are a part of it for me. Nonetheless, I can’t assume I should be able to continue at the same pace I did before having a child when the responsibilities, distractions, and obstacles are greater now than they ever were before. This is something I need to keep in mind when I feel a sense of self-disappointment rising up within me. I also need to show myself grace. Perhaps I don’t have to embrace the mess, but I can be a little more accepting of it and patient with myself as I recognize the challenges I face at this stage of motherhood.

Something else I have recognized is that I do a lot more than I give myself credit for. I’m sure this is true of most moms. At the end of the day, it’s easy to look at our list of chores (or simply the laundry-laden love seat, in my case) and to recognize what we didn’t accomplish. But we fail to remember all the tiny chores we did throughout the day—the yogurt we cleaned off the table and chairs after breakfast, the couch cushions we put back on the sofa several times after our little munchkins kept using them as a trampoline, and the water we wiped off the floor when our toddler insisted on drinking from an open cup. These are all such simple tasks, and yet the house would be a complete disaster if we chose to ignore them.

 Then, of course, there are the tasks we do throughout the day that aren’t a part of the housework but are very much a chore—a chore caused by our children. Some of the more interesting ones involve fishing forks out of the trash, or, worse yet, toys out of the toilet. Or maybe it’s picking out food from a child’s hair. Or the minute task of re-rolling the toilet paper onto its tube. We’ve probably done a lot more than we realize (or can even remember) when the day comes to an end.

As we head to bed and see all the tasks that we didn’t finish on our way, let’s remember our own moments of sweeping up pine cones. Our days are full of them. As such, let’s give ourselves grace over a messy home and accomplishing less of what’s on our to-do list, because we’re accomplishing more than we even realize.

Furthermore, let’s also recognize what all we have become in our role as mothers. We are not a shadow of the women we once were. We have become more than what we realize, and we are acquiring new skills all the time on this journey of motherhood.

What new skills have you acquired as a mom?

Although my son is only two, I can already think of a small (albeit silly) list of abilities that I have mastered. I have become proficient in the fine art of cutting grapes into quarters, for instance. Moreover, I’ve become such a good tickler that I believe Liam would rate me a ten out of ten if he knew how to count.

The interesting thing about motherhood is that, just as we master one skill, it’s time to lay it aside and figure out how to master a new one. Our roles as mothers are dynamic, always changing and requiring something new as our children change and grow. But we adapt to those changes. We become what our children need us to be.

Nonetheless, we often fail to see the wonder of our role as mothers. The mundane and monotonous moments of life tell us a different story. But they don’t have to be the voice we listen to.

Perhaps one of the most beneficial things we could do for ourselves in this season of life is to ask God what He thinks of us in our role as moms. How does He specifically view you and me? And what does He want us to know about ourselves as we continue to take care of our children?

Mother’s Day is just around the corner. Although we may not be getting any gifts from our children this year and perhaps have low expectations for the day, God can make it special for us. Whatever He reveals to us, in fact, could be the very best gift Mother’s Day gift that we could ever receive.