Welcome to Motherhood!
There are many things that you can never be prepared for. For instance, I am a woman who grew up in a mostly estrogen dominated home. My dad was in the US Coast Guard and was at sea six to eight months of the year. That left me, my mom, and my sister living life together.
My sister was my best friend and my worst enemy. No, for real. I think we loved to hate each other and loved to love each other. Because we were a military family, we moved quite a bit. She was my constant. She was the friend that traveled with me. Upon my birth into this world, I had an instant BFF. With my dad being away frequently, I wasn’t used to living with boys.
God with the great humor that He has, saw fit to bless me and my husband with three boys. When changing diapers on boys, things must be covered or you get a spray every. single. time. No really, you do! No one ever tells you that! There’s no way to prepare you for it. There’s also no way to prepare for his first broken heart. There’s no way to prepare for temptations. There’s no way to prepare for the surrender that motherhood requires.
Early on I knew that I did not have what it would take to be a mother.
Quite frankly, I never prepared for motherhood because I never wanted the responsibility. It wasn’t until I took a mission’s trip to Tallin, Estonia that I realized the love and desire the Lord had created in me for my own children. I remember leaving an orphanage and just sobbing. I felt like I had left my heart inside that building and it would never return to me. A very sweet married friend, who was a mother, came to comfort me and share that what I was feeling was the Lord placing His desire in me to be a mom. That was April 1996. No one could have prepared me for that experience. No amount of study or any book that I could have read on the subject of parenthood could have prepared me for that experience.
This has been my morning prayer for as long as I have been a married woman and mom:
“Lord, make me who my family needs me to be today”.
On the days that I purposefully surrendered, I had what it took to be a mom.
This does not mean; however, that prayer makes my days easy. But when I remember where my help came from, I am a much better mom.
I wish I could say the majority of the time I lived a surrendered life with a mind constantly set on the Lord and His provision instead of on me and what I could provide. However, that is not the case. More days than not, I rely on myself. Those are the hardest days.
I have always been pretty confident and independent. However, I was not a confident mom. I question everything I do. I even questioned why God had given me children to raise. I feel incomplete, incompetent, and absolutely 100% unqualified.
A Christian woman and mentor gave me a little book by Andrew Murray, “Absolute Surrender”. I don’t know the date, I don’t even remember the year but it’s been long enough for the paper pages to turn yellow. This little book is respectfully only 127 pages in length. I have read to page 69. In all the years I have had to read this book, I cannot get past page 69. It was a struggle to read that far. I pushed myself to get past the pages and phrases that kept my heart. I was determined to finish reading this book. But, I keep going back. Instead of moving forward, I move back. I go back and meditate on these simple phrases.
“God expects your surrender.”
“God accomplishes your surrender.”
“God accepts your surrender.”
“God maintains your surrender.”
In order to be a mom, even a halfway decent one, I knew that I needed to surrender. I knew that I needed a power greater than my own. I knew that I needed help. This little book helped me realize that even my surrender was maintained and completed by Him.
I’m not sure that I can point to one thing that I did right to lead my boys to the Lord. I think it was just consistency and perseverance. I think it was owning my mistakes and my shortcomings. I think it was being humble enough to apologize to the boys when I blew it. I try to own my mistakes. I want them to know that I need God and His grace. I want them to know His redemption by being a living example of pulling myself up and getting back at it when I fall down.
Your children need to see authenticity. As a teen, I wandered away from the Lord. The adults around me lived different lives Monday through Saturday. If they could live that way and still show up to church on Sunday morning, why should I try to be any better? I followed their example and that lead me astray. I chose my own path and made my own decisions and suffered my own consequences. This made me realize that even when I don’t see, they see. What do I want my boys imitating in their own lives?
Let your children see who you are. Let them see that you own your mistakes. Let them see you turn to the Father and ask for grace and for mercy.
There’s another book on my bookshelf titled, “Grace Based Parenting”. I’ve never read it but the title alone ministers to my heart and leads me to think about my parenting style. It makes me think about the type of parent God is to me. Does He always chastise? Does He always punish? No, He sent His son into this world to die for my mistakes so that I could receive grace in my time of need.
Grace based parenting does look different and it greatly depends on the child’s age and understanding. Dr. James Dobson even says not to punish a sleepy child, a hungry child, or a sad child. Instead of reactively punishing your child, look at the circumstances that caused the behavior. Was it outright rebellion or was there a contributing factor? The Bible tells us to be quick to listen and slow to respond.
I’m not sure there is one thing that I can point to that helped me lead our boys to the Lord. I think it is simply living an authentic life before them as a sinner redeemed by the grace of God.
Summer Dossey is a wife and mom. She is a 1996 graduate of Rhema Bible Training Center and is passionate about seeing others fulfill God’s call on their lives.