Dear Mom Friend (From the Mother of Not-Yet-One-Year-Old Twins)

Today’s guest post and response to Dear Mom Friend comes from Molly Jaeger, yet another college friend of mine. Molly teaches online courses when she isn’t chasing after her busy boys. Molly and her husband Nate, are raising their handsome twin sons in Prattville, Alabama. If you enjoy reading Molly’s thoughts, you should check out her blog.

Dear Mom Friend:

I write to you as a fellow warrior in the trenches of dirty dishes, piles of laundry, trails of toys, and snotty noses. In other words, as a mother of two delightful ten-month-old boys. I am also a wife to a godly man who loves me well and who extends grace to me daily in our marriage.

I don’t remember the first time I thought, “I would like to be a mother some day,” perhaps because I always assumed that I would be eventually, but I can say with certainty that I have wanted to be a stay-at-home mother since I was about nine years old. My own mom went back to work when I was in preschool. I recall a day in third grade when my mom let me stay at home from school and play hooky so that we could make cupcakes together (I suppose she was not working that day), and I made a resolution that one day I would not work so that I could be home with my children every day when they got home from school. I do not know what the future holds, but I am very grateful that God has provided a way for now that I can spend each day with my sons.

While I always wanted to be a mother, and a stay-at-home mother at that, I was a bit terrified of the prospect since I never loved babysitting small children. What I didn’t realize was that motherhood is not some glorified version of babysitting. It is a serious, thrilling, adventure-filled, fun, tiring, and challenging calling to train up a child in the ways of the Father.

That calling starts with pregnancy, not when the child is old enough to talk and understand. It starts with a praying heart. A heart that feels utterly helpless to die to self, to love a child as God loves him, to make wise decisions in raising him, and to ultimately change his heart from an enemy of God and lover of self to a child of God and lover of Christ, his neighbor, and his enemy. I aim to pray for my children daily, and yet I fall so short. Sometimes I feel my helplessness and am driven to Christ, but so often I feel my self-sufficiency and pat myself on my back, sure that with the right combination of hard work, advice-giving books and parenting philosophies, I will raise two honorable, obedient sons. The dependent heart, though, is so full of abundant life and peace and noticeably lacking in self-help methods and anxiety. Think of all of the opportunities the mothering life brings each day to PRAY! As I was asking my baby boy to please hold STILL today on the changing table, the verse “ Be still and know that I am God” came to mind, so I prayed aloud that when hard times come his way one day, that Mark will call upon God and be STILL, trusting God and letting Him fight for him. Oh sister in Christ, think of how our day-to-day lives would look if we mothered out of a praying heart! To encourage you in this path, I would highly recommend the book A Praying Life: Connecting with God in a Distracting World (Miller).

So if the calling is to train up a child in the Father’s ways, what does that look like for a mother of small children, other than constant prayer? The beauty of this question is that it depends on your unique personality and set of gifts, talents, and interests. But I will answer it in two ways.

  1. If your children are not yet at an age where they can talk, think of ways or opportunities that might teach them the character and ways of God in the future and start practicing now. For example, one day I would really like to begin each morning with my boys by reading a Psalm, singing a hymn of praise, and praying for the day. So why wait until they can understand? We began this about a month ago. I start by reading a Psalm aloud (which is never uneventful, as my babies take turns trying to grab my Bible in order to rip out a page or chew on it), then I pick out the main theme and restate it in my own words in a way that a child could understand. I just so happen to play piano, so I hand my boys their homemade instruments (black beans and rice in a medicine bottle and spice jar), and I sit down and play and sing a few songs of praise. They shake their rattles enthusiastically for about 30 seconds before rolling off to find something else more exciting, but the point is that I am able to worship the Father and think upon Him, and also practice because one day the boys will understand! I know you may not play the piano or enjoy singing, but that’s not the point. Think about your unique interests and gifts and use them to get into the habit of teaching your child God’s name. This doesn’t even have to be an activity. Just talk to your child! When you get into the car to go to church, explain that you are going to worship God with His people, because He is worthy! Or when you read a fairy tale, end by telling your child that the story is just like the Gospel—the Prince coming to rescue His bride and set the world free from the evil curse so that His Kingdom can have a happy ending. Practice explaining the gospel now!
  2. Let your children and your home be a blessing to others, and similarly think of ways you can love your neighbor and serve the body of Christ and your community within the life you’re already living. If you’re like me, you don’t have a lot of free time. So if you think that the only way to serve God is to go on short-term mission trip, serve breakfast at the homeless shelter, or teach a Bible club at a local elementary school, you might end up feeling disillusioned and useless. After all, what can you do when your schedule is packed with frequent feedings, diaper changes, or much needed naps? But don’t forget that your child is a precious gift from the Lord that He wants to use to bless others. Think about your daily routine and the places you go. Who do you encounter that might enjoy spending time with your child? Think about your home. If it’s difficult to leave your home often with your crew, how might you practice hospitality to God’s people and to people who don’t know Him? Think about your resources. Is there someone who might benefit from your stocked pantry, unused coupons, a phone call with your extra minutes, or your toddler’s retired high chair? Think about your gifts and abilities. Is there someone who might benefit from a note of encouragement, your resume-writing skills, or your love to bake or save money at the grocery store? Think about your current interests. Is there someone who might find comradery in your desire to eat healthier or run a 5K or make homemade cleaning supplies? Think about your desires. Could you get to know an elderly neighbor by asking her to teach you to garden or sew a pillow? For me in this busy season of life, this looks like taking frequent walks in the neighborhood to meet our immediate community, visiting two of the widows on our street once a week (one of whom I met while walking with the boys) and hosting a small group from church in our home on Sunday afternoons.

As we consider our callings as mothers, let’s not forget our primary earthly calling as wives. One day we will watch our children leave our home, but we will remain with our husbands. It is so challenging to constantly talk about the needs of the children to the neglect of our husband’s desires and needs. It is hard to pursue intimacy when children tug on us all day long and all too easy to treat our husbands as go-fetch-and-do-this-for-me men, rather than as lovers, best friends, and partners in kingdom expansion and parenting. I cannot fulfill these roles apart from the Holy Spirit’s help, and I need accountability from my sisters in Christ in order to love my husband well.

Finally, as we think about our lives as we learn to depend on Christ for our marriages and parenting, let’s not isolate ourselves. Remember, if we are children of God, then we are members of the Body of Christ called to worship with a local body regularly and serve the body with the gift(s) the Spirit has given each of us. Let’s get to know our fellow brothers and sisters in Christ in all seasons of life—not just other moms—so that we can learn from one another. But do pursue relationship with other moms, because we just might be one another’s greatest cheerleaders while our children are small and so dependent on us. And be persistent—an unreturned phone call probably doesn’t mean she’s not interested, but rather that she’s busy, like you—and she might just need you to try her again in a day or so.

What about you? Do you think of motherhood as a calling, and if so, in what ways? How do you serve alongside your children? How do you balance your callings as a mother and as a wife?

Sincerely,

The Mother of Not-Yet-One Year Old Twins

Please leave your comments on the blog so that Molly and others can review and comment. Thanks

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15 thoughts on “Dear Mom Friend (From the Mother of Not-Yet-One-Year-Old Twins)

  1. Molly
    I love how you are serving your community with the time and abilities you have at your disposal right now. I’m sure God will continue to open doors for you and your boys to serve as they get a little older.
    I also really loved that you pointed how how important it is to love your husband through it all. I know that if were not entering parenthood with my best friend that I was incredibly scared. I can’t wait to see the father my husband will be and I know I will fall deeper in love with him as my child grows older. Thanks Molly!

    1. Natalie, I agree, it will be exciting to see how our opportunities to serve grow and/or change as the boys grow and change! Knowing that our children will grow up watching Nate and I serve (or not serve) and how we serve (our attitude) is a lot of responsibility and accountability. It’s really scary, actually, and makes me realize I need to pray for a LOT of grace every day so that they somehow see the Gospel lived out in our home despite our messy imperfections and bent towards self-righteousness.

      What a blessing to be married to our best friends! Being parents together is such a blast and brings new richness and sweetness to the relationship for sure!

  2. Molly – really liked your perspective on a praying heart. Whenever I’m around little ones, I always speak scriptures & truth over them! You had some really great & wise thoughts here. Well done 🙂

    1. Thanks, Amanda! The church has such an important role in helping raise, love, guide, and teach its covenant children and its really neat to hear how you’re playing a role in that!

  3. Thank you for your perspective and challenge. Even reading what you wrote makes me feel refreshed. It even made me start thinking of what I can start doing with my girls to bless others. I feel like I used to be better with this with one child. Then baby #2 came. 7mos later and still not sleeping through the night and finding myself trying to nap when I can rather than pray and read my Bible I have kind of lost focus.
    One thing I do is I have verses in frames around our house that are supposed to help me remember to pray. Ex. In the bathroom where we bathe the girls “Create in Addison/ Emerson a clean heart…” Or on her dresser ” Clothe Addison with righteousness…” I like how God spontaneously brought the verse to you but the frames are also a good help for this exhausted Mama when my brain feels like mush:)
    Your husband and boys are blessed to have you.
    Thank you again for your refreshing post!

    1. Oops–pushed send to soon. What I meant to say is that I like the idea of putting scripture around the house. I think the key is to create habits in praying so that it becomes a natural part of how we mother throughout the day. I might have to try that! Thanks, Kristin, for your comments!

  4. Kristin, I totally understand the sleep deprivation–10 months and mine are still waking up 1-3 times a night, and the days when I’m most tired are SUCH a battle for me. I am trying to get in the habit of praying aloud when I feel like that and just say “God, you’ve GOT to help me get through this day and to obey you” rather than turn inward and feel bitter and frustrated (so tempting to throw my self-pity party). The opposite side of it is that on the days when I feel good, I tend to think I don’t need God and try to do it on my own! I am such a hopeless case of a mother—sleep deprived or rested–when I don’t depend on the Holy Spirit–it is just more obvious when I’m exhausted.

    I really like the idea of putting scripture around the house!

  5. Thank you for your thoughts, Molly. (And for facilitating this entire series, Allison!) I hate to be the person who ignores paragraph upon paragraph of good things and then points out one tiny thing they don’t like, but I think this series has provided a place for women to talk through some complex and potentially contentious issues. I’m uncomfortable with your description of being a wife as a “primary earthly calling.” I understand that you’re contrasting childrearing, which in some ways only lasts a certain number of years, with being a wife, which will last the rest of your life, but I think your use of “primary” is problematic. I would suggest that our primary earthly calling–regardless of marriage or children–is being obedient daughters of God. This obedience is manifested in a variety of callings particular to each person, including marriage, motherhood, singleness, career, etc. Speaking of marriage as a primary calling is, I think, inaccurate, and potentially alienating.

  6. Thanks for your response, BJ. I understand your concern, however I hope you’ll understand that I wasn’t addressing this letter to women in other stages, but rather to other married women with children. And for that reason I would hope it would not alienate single or divorced women. I agree that our highest calling is to be obedient and faithful servants of God, and that should be evident in all aspects of our God-given domain–including our relationships. I do believe there is a hierarchy of callings for each person, however, and I believe that for wives and mothers, the relationship with our children should not be prioritized over that with our spouses.

  7. Hey Molly, I really appreciate your post! I think that having a continual attitude of prayer is so important even though I don’t normally act that way! I think sometimes we find prayer so difficult because of the idea that it should be separate from our daily life – withdrawing for an hour on our knees. But that is such a limited view of prayer. Thank you for reminding me how it can be incorporated into EVERY aspect of our lives. I also like what you said about starting the traditions that you want to keep up even before your kids really understand what’s going on. I tend to think about things that I’ll do when Juliana is older, but actually she picks up on a lot more now that I realize. And little children certainly pay attention to and model what their mamas do!

    I also think it’s so important to look for ways to serve within our current life. Parenting isn’t a distraction that takes us away from service. It might change our areas or methods of service, but we can have so much impact just in looking for opportunities around us. I think that is especially important for me to remember in my particular job, or anytime when we are involved what is termed “full time min.” I NEVER want to feel like my children are “getting in the way” of service. I think just having that attitude can be terribly harmful to children – I’ve seen it happen.

    Having a child has opened up a whole lot of opportunities for getting to know people that I wouldn’t have had before. People who wouldn’t have approached me before are drawn to the cute little foreign baby. And how we raise our children is an important example – either positive or negative. Showing that we value and prioritize family and the way we live our ordinary, daily life has a much more lasting impact than what we say or do when we are officially “on the job.”

    And thank you for pointing out that parenthood IS ministry – we’ll never have such a big impact on a person as we do on our own children. We don’t yet see the impact that they will then have on others – both now and in the future. We have been blessed with a huge and awesome responsibility in raising our children.
    Thanks for all the encouraging and challenging words!

  8. Thanks, Ruthie, for the affirmation! I agree that there are many people that we would not know if it weren’t for our boys. I think that becoming a mother has made me more confident and less shy in taking initiative to get to know people, and in doing so it has most definitely opened wide new opportunities to share God’s love. It’s neat to see how that is true here in Alabama and there in China! It’s so wonderful to see eye to eye with you on the joys and treasures and ministry of motherhood.

    I just started Noel Piper’s Treasuring God in our Traditions right now and it is so encouraging! I highly recommend it!

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