I remember how the air felt. I remember my heart pounding. I was so excited. Unbelievably excited. I had already taken 2 pregnancy tests but felt uncertain about the results, so I went and bought the most expensive test I could find and drove to the seminary where my husband was in class. When I saw the word “pregnant”, it was difficult for me not to burst into his class waving the test above my head. I didn't. I waited impatiently in the parking lot and thrust it into his hands as soon as he reached me. I found it was difficult to speak. He seemed to feel the same because we didn't really say anything much that evening. Just felt. The next day, the research started. I felt a driving need to know because knowledge is power.
I was consumed. I was going to do this thing right (is there any other way to do something?) First things first: the right way to give birth. And we were off. I knew I wanted a natural birth and so I threw myself into finding out how to make that happen. Because knowledge is power. I'll spare you the details on this post, but I did it. I had an amazing, perfect birth. I felt powerful and brave and confident. It was so pivotal a moment in my life, that I am even now being certified in childbirth education so that I can help others have the same wonderful experience. But after the 36 HOURS OF LABOR, I held my daughter and all that confidence melted away. What was God thinking? Why in the world did He give me a HUMAN BEING to care for, teach, guide.....? The weight of responsibility seemed too heavy to bear. I realized quickly that the research of the past nine months had stopped abruptly at the birth.
So, it was time to start again. I researched how to feed and care for a newborn perfectly. Because knowledge is power. I began to realize that 36 hours of labor was the easy part. Jesus knows that was one of the hardest times of my life. But we got through it and faced each challenge as it came armed with books and websites - weaning, teething, potty-training, sibling rivalry - no problem. Knowledge is power - as long as I knew the right thing to do I could do it no matter how difficult.
You see, parenting young children is a lot about control with love. Benevolent dictator. I can handle that role. I love to control things. I decided what they ate, when they slept, where they went, what they played with, and what books I read to them. And all this was carefully researched and executed because - knowledge is power.
But while you exert loving control over this young child, they are becoming more and more their own person, separate from you. Shockingly different from you and yet scarily the same. They develop opinions and ideas of how they want to do things. And now you must navigate the rocky road of letting go of just the perfect amount of control at a time so that they can develop their own decision-making abilities. And I have to tell you friends, family, strangers - this is the hardest and scariest part of all. Every single day I feel my inadequacies and failures. Every time they make a bad decision, I take it on as my failure. Every time they lie or are rude or don't try their best - that is my fault. And I know this isn't a healthy way of thinking, but I am just being honest. With a 7 and 8 year old, this is where I am in my parenting journey currently. And I am ready and willing to throw myself back into research, but here's what God is teaching me through all this - the same wicked heart that beats in my own chest, beats in theirs. They are human just like me; they are going to struggle with sin just as I do. And when it comes to sin - knowledge is not power. I can know the right thing to do and not do it. So can my children. Power comes from God himself through the Spirit. It comes from prayer.
So all this - to tell myself and all you other mothers out there...... to pray more? I am laughing as I write this because it seems so absurdly simple. But there it is. In my search for knowledge am I neglecting the only source of power in my life and theirs? You're story may be different. I would love to hear it. Because this mothering thing was always meant to be done together.
Happy Mother's Day to all you beautiful mothers out there. I see you and more importantly, God sees you. He sees all the sacrifice and all the tears and, if you are like me, all the desperate search for knowledge. He is not afraid you will make mistakes in your mothering. He isn’t asking you to be a perfect parent. He’s only ever asked you to sit at His feet and to cast all those cares upon Him. Keep researching, keep learning, but most importantly, keep seeking Him and His Kingdom – because therein lies the power.