Parenting came as a big huge surprise for Adrian and me. I shared a little bit of our story in my prayer for young mothers.
If I could go back and give myself some advice as a young mom, these are some of the things I would tell my own new mommy self; words to a woman that often let insecurities, fears, and selfishness rob her of some of the joy of motherhood.
Who am I kidding, these are things I have to tell myself many days, even 6 years deep into motherhood.
1 | “Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young,
but set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith and in purity” (1 Timothy 4:12). So what if maybe some of my fears and insecurities, the ones about other people thinking I was way too young to be a mom or that I didn’t know what the heck I was doing, what if they were true? What if some people really thought that? What then? Then 1 Timothy 4:12. Then I keep on being faithful in what God has asked of me, being faithful in motherhood, no matter how many mistakes I make, seeking to do it well and good and with His love.
2 | Don’t fight it, embrace it.
Even if motherhood came sooner than expected, the reality is that it is here! You can spend your energy wrestling against that reality, or you can spend it embracing the life that is yours and the life or lives entrusted to your care. You will know so much more joy in motherhood by embracing the moments and not wishing life were different. I can tell you from my own experience, if you drag through your days longing for another life than the one you’ve been given, wishing you’d been dealt a different hand, hoping for your plan and not His, one day you will wake up and your daughter will be starting kindergarten and you will realize that you checked out on some things. You can make the choice to change the attitude of your heart today.
3 | Quit the comparison game.
It’s a lie of the enemy that if only you had a job like that mom, or could stay home like your neighbor does, or lived in a bigger house like those families down the road, or had a more well behaved child like that lady at church, that then you would be a better mother. You wouldn’t. For “God has given us everything we need for living a godly life” (1 Peter 1:3, NLT). As some wise person once said, comparison robs your joy, and if you give in to its pull, you will miss out on so many good gifts and blessings that the Lord has for you.
4 | You’re not a perfect mom, but neither is anyone else.
Along the lines of number three, avoid the temptation to look at the moms around you and think they have it all together and you don’t. If you simply look on the outside, sure, it probably appears that those put together mommies just love life and never have a bad day or lose their temper or mess up, and that you’re the only one floundering in the fierce sea of parenting. But you’re not the only one. Those mommies are human beings in need of God’s grace, just like you and everyone else on the planet. Striving for perfection in parenting only leads to burnout, disappointment, and false guilt. Live in His grace and new mercies every morning.
5 | Be real and build community.
When you have opportunity, go deeper. Rather than perpetuate a false picture of perfection to others, encourage and support other moms in sharing life: the joys, the hurts, the stress, the struggles. If you don’t have the opportunities, make them. Connection is crucial to living out our calls as wives and mothers, and it’s OK to carve out time to gather with other women. In particular, I would urge you to find a godly woman who is older and wiser than you and is willing to speak truth into your life. In true Titus 2 fashion, also find a younger woman or mom to whom you can minister and encourage.
6 | Know your purpose and goals.
One of the greatest mentors in my life, Leah, has always said in relation to motherhood that “the days are long, but the years are short.” In the midst of days that seem to never end, when you’re up to your eyeballs in dirty diapers and spilled milk, it’s easy to feel like there’s no point whatsoever in your role. Take some time to pray and then write out bullet points of what you believe to be your purpose as a mom, what you hope to teach your children, things you hope they will know when they are living on their own. These could be simple items, like providing for your child’s physical needs until they are of age, or more spiritually significant purposes and goals, like teaching your child to know and follow Jesus.
7 | Make a game plan.
After you have taken the time to write out those items that you believe to be your purpose in motherhood, consider an action plan. You want your children to be followers of Jesus? Awesome. How will you teach them to know and follow Him? Will it be through daily Bible Study, family worship nights, and Sunday School lessons? You want your son to be a responsible, independent adult one day? Fantastic. What practical steps can you make now towards that end? Implement a chore chart? Start laundry lessons before he’s 20 and bringing smelly socks and underwear from his dorm room for mom to wash? The point here is not to make yourself nuts with a rigid plan, but if you don’t have some sort of action plan down on paper, in front of your face on a day-to-day basis, those big picture goals will get lost in long days.
8 | Savor now.
Right now, this moment, with this child, this is what you have, it’s the gift you’ve been given. I recently experienced young life cut short. I don’t want to be morbid or depressing, but truly, there is no promise of tomorrow here on earth (yet one for Heaven!). So do your very best, by God’s grace, to love your children like crazy and embrace these moments God’s given you right now.
9 | Look up.
Colossians 3:2 says, “Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things.” In your child, you have been given a gift from God himself. He longs for you to teach and train that child to know Him, love Him, follow Him. Take that seriously and remember your mission is an eternal one. You can’t do this mommy thing alone, but by His grace, you can press on and run the race determined, passionate, and for a prize.
“Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead,I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us.” Philippians 3:13-14