Being a MOAMA (Mother of Advanced Maternal Age) has granted me some useful perspective to share with new moms that I wish I would have received when I was younger. Things like:
‘You really don’t need everything on the pre-baby checklist found in magazines and online.’
‘You don’t have to take every ounce of unsolicited advice from well-meaning relatives, friends, and strangers.’
‘It’s okay to not have visitors right away in the hospital after birth. Take all the time you need.’
“If you’re not comfortable allowing people to hold your baby right away, you can say NO and it is perfectly okay for you to say it.’
But one of the most useful revelations I ever had as a mother has been this:
You are NOT enough mama… But Jesus Is.
From the moment that your child is born, you want to be, or become, the BEST at everything in this momhood life. You want to love them perfectly, discipline them rightly, create amazing memories and traditions, have a stellar relationship, and pretty much “rock” the whole mommyhood thing.
But a few years into the gig, you realize you’re a mess and you have NO clue as to what you’re doing!
You realize that you are not enough.
You will never be enough. You will not be able to solve every problem, block every influence, protect from every harm because… you’re human and you are only one person.
I remember when I first realized there was no way I could do all that my heart wanted to do as a mother. I completely panicked. The overwhelm and fear I felt that my children could suffer because I couldn’t possibly cover all the bases of their upbringing made me feel so helpless. As a mother, I wanted my children to have every advantage for a good start in life, I wanted them to remain unpolluted in a very polluted world. I wanted their education to nurture their God-given giftings and talents, I wanted them to have character, I wanted them to fall in love with Jesus… and the list goes on and on.
One thing became very clear to me early on- while I could give my every effort to instill all these things and more in my children, there would be many variables I could not control. I couldn’t control how my children would receive all the good I was trying to give them- they might embrace it, they might not. I couldn’t control their contact and perception with the world around them, ugh- they might embrace it, they might not. I couldn’t keep hard times from happening, hurts from striking their hearts, accidents from colliding, or much of anything else from happening in the soul/heart area of their lives.
It drove me to my knees.
“Jesus,” I cried, “I don’t know what to do. No matter how hard I try, I cannot seem to be enough…” I would train their hearts on obedience one day, thinking I did so well, only to turn around the next day and see that they were struggling with heart attitudes toward each other. Or we’d conquer the 50 states one semester in school and I’d discover that we really should have focused much more on math than we did. Or the worst- I’d find out that their hearts had been hurt by loved ones or friends -sometimes months after the initial offense happened. My heart would break that I could not keep them from harm or failure.
One day, it hit me that even my most wonderful efforts would still leave ‘gaps’. Whether it was their upbringing, their education, their heart training… there would always be a gap SOMEWHERE, because I couldn’t possibly go EVERYWHERE in my child’s life and heart with them, I mean, geez- I couldn’t do it with my own life!. Only God could do that.
Accepting that I wasn’t enough was a big milestone for me as a mom.
It meant that my pride couldn’t be stroked by my accomplishments anymore. It meant that my dependence couldn’t be on my own strength, intelligence, or spirituality anymore. It meant that my children’s success in life and with God was not solely dependent on me and that at times, it might even be in spite of me because, let’s face it, I am flawed.
Case in point: I have a son who does not have the same personality bents as I do. He is an optimist. One year, we were going through a very traumatic crisis in our family and I just couldn’t hold it together no matter how hard I tried. The world was ending and I was sure I wouldn’t make it out alive. This boy, every day by God’s leading, would speak life over me and the other members of our family. He would zero in on the one positive, no matter how small, and just magnify it to the rest of us. In spite of me falling apart, he rose up and ministered to his family.
I learned so much from him and God during that time. And I am so grateful that he didn’t follow my lead! I asked him about it after times were more stable in our family, how he was able to not fall apart like I did, to be so positive? He said he just “knew” what was needed every day and that he knew it would pass. He said he felt God was with him and that he was assured that this situation was going to work out well. Sometimes, you gotta fall apart in order to see some serious truth.
Knowing that I am not enough, but Jesus is, has humbled me in ways I cannot even express; and it has also lifted an incredible burden off of me that I was never meant to carry. Ladies, think about how much easier motherhood would be if you weren’t carrying the burden all alone… because the truth is- you don’t need to.
You are not enough Mama, but Jesus… Jesus is MORE than enough. He will walk with you daily in your journey as a mother, giving guidance, authoring spirit-led prayers, giving just the right scripture to stand on and more… all you have to do is turn to Him and invite Him to lead the way, to do what you can’t and to fill in the gaps.