This has been my parenting journey. I have traveled from the heartbreak of infertility to the miracle of answered prayers – from the birth of new life to the death of dreams.
My only regret: I wish I had been a little more prepared.
Instead, as I prepared for motherhood, I feasted on the TV ads showing the lovely young mom rocking her baby. She was dressed in a flowing white gown, gazing at her beautiful babe. The flimsy white curtains billowed softly in the light breeze.
That was how I thought it was supposed to be. Instead, motherhood descended on me with a sudden fury. Adopting our first child on short notice, we plunged unprepared into parenting. A colicky biological child followed 17 months later, leaving me panting in the dust with postpartum depression. After a few years recovery, we adopted two more kids through international adoption, who each presented substantial learning disabilities at school age.
Each child presented challenges and blessings.
After launching two from homeschool high school, we heaved a sigh that our job was half over. If we made it this far, we would surely finish the race with confidence.
My story starts on a pretty regular day. During this particular season of life, my pattern for managing my gut wrenching grief was to go to my bedroom and get down on my knees by my bed. The younger two kids were still at school and my husband was at work so I could make a little noise.
And so I would cry. And wail. It was the only way to get some release from the sadness stored up inside me – the sadness that would destroy me if I did not deal with it. Deep cries would come from some desolate place inside me, great sobs filled with pain. Emotions that I had to process or my heart would surely explode.
On one of these days, something different happened. As I lifted my hands up, crying out to the Lord, He gave me His peace. It wasn’t merely a feeling or an imagination. It was a release that came upon me with such force and such surety that I knew it was the Lord.
My prior pattern had been as follows:
I would pray, “Lord heal and sustain my husband in his cancer.”
I would pray, “Lord, bring my troubled daughter home and, if it be Your will, release her from her sudden, ill-advised marriage to a man she barely knew, and bring her home from the move so far away to live in poverty and confusion.”
I would pray, “Lord, heal my other daughter who is nearly consumed by her own adolescent issues. And by the way, how in the world will we pay for these hospitalizations?”
I would pray, “Lord, help me with my youngest two and their learning disabilities. Help me to be patient and loving with them.”
I would pray, “Lord, if it be your will, heal me from the substantial health problems of my own that you have allowed in my life.”
In my prior pattern, I would lift these prayers to the Lord. When I had no sooner gotten up from the floor, I took the cares back on my own shoulders. Rather than emerge in victory from my prayer time, I would arise in defeat and shuffle away with a resignation that I would carry these burdens for many more years.
But this day was different. This day the Lord met me in my pain and began to carry it for me. On this day, His presence and His love felt palpable. No, I didn’t hear His voice, or feel the touch His hand on my shoulder. But from that day forward, I experienced a peace I have never known before.
I still have concerns and the occasional fret fest, but I know that the Lord is in charge and that he orchestrates all things for His good. The certainty and grounded-ness of His peace is mine.
Being a woman, a wife and a mother are opportunities for great joy. We revel in the emotionality and gift giving of Mother’s Day, the birth of a child, or our wedding anniversary.
But what do we do when those callings of wife and mother are discouraging? Where do we turn with our feelings of deep discouragement when we look at our lives and say, “I didn’t think it would be like this”?
We could evolve into bitter empty nesters. Or we can process our pain, use our experiences to draw closer to the Lord, become stronger, and bless others.
Are somewhere in Mom Pain? Are you feeling robbed or cheated of the promise of joy of motherhood?
Take heart. You are experiencing the grit and irritation of the oyster shell, polishing and refining you as a woman and a wife, a mom and a human.
What will emerge might astonish you.