Motherhood is hard, lonely and extremely challenging.
However, it is also one of the best gifts on the planet.
As moms we tend to try hide the struggles and frustrations in hopes that others won’t see our short comings. After all, motherhood is something many of us prayed for and wanted desperately… we wouldn’t want anyone to think it isn’t all that we dreamed of, right?
MOMentous Monday is an opportunity to realize you are not alone.
My heart is for moms to never feel isolated in their struggles, but I only have so many of my own life experiences to share… so I have to call in some help. On MOMentous Monday’s I hand over the mic to other beautiful mama’s who have stories and experiences beyond my own.
Today I am sharing this space with my friend Rebecca Li. She is a gift and has a beautiful story of surrender.
This journey as a mom is one filled with learning God’s grace over and over again. It is filled with humbling moments in which I’ve had to take a step back and truly seek God’s face.
My husband and I were married on New Year’s Eve of 2005. We met in China, 3 years earlier where I served as a missionary. (A story to be shared at another time! wink emoticon) He immigrated to the United Stated, just 2 weeks before our wedding. The time we spent apart between our engagement and our wedding was just 10 months and was what I thought was going to be called the most difficult time of our lives. I thought as soon as we walked down that aisle, it wouldn’t matter how poor we were, what came our way, or what cultural differences we had, we’d be together, and that’s all that mattered.
I thought “God has a big vision for us and the family we will create.”
This was only partly true and is partially what we’ve held onto. We had our normal struggles as newlyweds do, with finding a place to live and jobs, who changes the toilet paper roll and what kinds of food we were going to eat for dinner, but something MAJORLY changed for me as time carried on and we had our first child.
Fast forward 2 ½ years when my world as a mom was flipped upside down. I was now working as a teacher and went to pick up my daughter from preschool. Her teacher told me that she had an extremely high fever. So, I carried her out with her pacifier in her mouth and I’ll never forget that moment when her pacifier fell out of her mouth and hit the ground and she started convulsing in my arms. I immediately knew she was having a seizure because of my teacher preparations and went back in the classroom calmly and asked her teacher to call 911. I had to put her on the floor on her side and wait for it to be over.
As I think about this, I cry. I felt so vulnerable and so helpless and yet I had God’s peace cover over me. I can remember just praying and praying as I didn’t know what the reason could be.
It was kind of like her birth, I had to submit to the fact that I might lose her during the delivery when her heart rate dropped. They were going to give me a C-section after I had labored with her the entire time without any meds and now they had to numb me from the waist down.
It was all out of my control.
What I wanted to happen and what happened are two completely different things. I wanted it to be perfect and all natural, but it wasn’t, it was messy and confusing. I was vulnerable and had no idea what would be next.
The same things unfolded after this with our daughter. We had big plans of trying to keep our family as healthy as possible and as “natural” as possible. When she was sick, we’d try our best to ride out fevers and colds.
She was 1 year old, in preschool and was getting sick a lot. We had to take her out of the school and have my sister watch her. At the first sign of any fever we had to give her Tylenol and Ibuprofen because her seizures were caused by the high fevers that come on faster than the nervous system can handle. She was particularly vulnerable to these high fevers because of underdeveloped valves from her kidneys, that made her susceptible to infections.
Then came the nut allergies and anaphylaxis and severe asthma. She’s had to have the epiPen twice now and both times, I feared losing her. This last time came up very silently. It came from me giving her sun butter. She came out of gymnastics unable to breath and asked me to take her to the hospital.
It’s moments like these that rock me to my core. But, then I remember God’s goodness and how He’s carried us through every trial. These are a part of our daily lives but I don’t let them rule me anymore. For a while, a good long while, I lived in fear, so much fear. It was 1000 times easier for me to live in China as a young woman, all by myself, then to have children.
This is real life.
This is God’s true refining and redefining process. Life will never go as we plan, it’s a continuous opportunity to choose to receive his GRACE in that moment, or to grab onto fear and concentrate on self.
My friend just reminded me again on Thursday at bible study how if we remember that God is good and that he loves us, then we know that we can trust Him. It’s not about our plans and our “perfect” schedules and diets and houses and clothes that we provide for our children. It’s about His love and grace that we exhibit to them over and over and over again.
I have been on this journey into grace even more intensely over the past 3 years as I’ve become a stay at home mom. We decided it would be better for our entire family if I put my teaching career on hold and stayed home with my newborn, 2 year old and my daughter who was going to be starting kindergarten.
I had great visions for what that would look like… I’d finally be home and be present with them. We’d go to the park together and finger paint. I’d sew and volunteer in the classrooms and be the perfect little homemaker with dinner on the table each night. Of course all the laundry would always be folded and put away.
Reality is, I’m sure I had postpartum depression with my 3rd child. When he was just 6 weeks old, an hour before my daughter started her first day of kindergarten, I got a call that she couldn’t start her first day because they didn’t have all the paperwork from the doctor. My reaction was less than gracious with the nurse who told me. Actually, it was quite embarrassing. It was definitely not my plan. I felt like a failure. I was devastated and it was just the beginning.
I was a sad mommy who felt out of her element that entire first year, at least. I felt like I could never quite BE that mommy and wife that God had made me to be. I was constantly trying hard to do everything I saw on Pinterest and yet the only thing that ever satisfied me was holding my baby….even the grocery store overwhelmed me.
I’ve become an expert at making myself busy while still feeling like I’ve done nothing in search of this “perfection” that would satisfy me. There is an extensive list of all the titles,/things that I’ve done and volunteered for since I decided to stay home with my babies. This kind of chaos always ended in me feeling unsatisfied, hurt or bummed.
We all know how those emotions can quickly spiral and the type of environment they create for all involved, especially those sweet little people we’re called to love.
After that first year home, God in his grace revealed to me that He had me home for purposes beyond Pinterest and trying to be Super Mommy. He was preparing me to love on a group of women from a very different path, but we all needed God’s unconditional love and grace.
This unexpected gift that arrived when I felt like I had nothing left to give to anyone, has blessed me as a wife and a mom in ways that I never imagined. It’s drawn me to a place of humbleness. It’s led me back to my Father in deeper and more intimate ways.
God calls us to be a mother, but he also calls us to be a wife and sister and friend. If we struggle to be the magical mom who does everything just right, we’re going to be empty and shallow and unsatisfied. But, if we seek his face and the grace that He extends to us in the midst of our messes, we’re going to find Him and we’re going to find a place where fear is absent.
When we release our weaknesses and insecurities to him, we’re going to find that place where His LOVE can shine brighter through us. That’s what matters most. It’s especially what matters most for our kids. They need to see us loving them and they need to see us loving others, deeply!
After 3 years, I’m finally able to volunteer for the first time in my children’s classrooms because my youngest is now in preschool! I was so excited for my first day! God’s also provided a more stable way for me to provide for my family (besides turning trash to treasure) while I stay at home through a skincare business. At the same time He’s healed my skin that has always been a source of frustration and sadness for me, all while giving me loads of confidence back.
My life’s turning out in ways I’ve never imagined, but he has his own unique way of teaching and has such a sense of humor!
Kids are messy and raising them is even messier…So grateful for HIS GRACE!
“God does not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline.” 2 Tim. 1:7
Rebecca, thank you for sharing your story. You have reminded me to focus on the things that matter and see beyond my strive for perfection.
If you have a story to share or know someone who does… please contact me. I would love to have you. Not keen on writing? Just send me the rough draft and I will polish it up for you.