I was talking about motherhood with a single friend this week.  Generally speaking, any time I have a conversation with a non-parent about parenthood they end up saying, “Wow, that must be really hard.” I want to tell them the truth, but find it hard to explain.  Since I have been doing a series on Becoming Mom, and since I have been thinking about it all week,  I decided I would go ahead and give it a shot.  Here is my response to “That must be really hard.”

Parenting is hard.  It is a constant opportunity to fully embrace the fruit of the Spirit.  That is the best way I can describe it to you.  You realize how UN- patient, joyful, loving, peaceful, kind, good, faithful, gentle, and self controlled you can be.  Every… Single… Day.   You realize that you, on your own, have a very high likelihood of accidentally preventing your kid from becoming the perfectly kind, balanced citizen that you were hoping to raise.  Thankfully, you can ask the Holy Spirit, your mom, and the people around you for wisdom.  Because it quickly becomes apparent that you’re going to need a lot of it.  You know, it is easy to know about and talk about things like Joy, Peace, Goodness.  But this just takes it to a whole different level.  In my experience, parenting will either make you desperate, or make you desperate for Jesus.

This hangs on the inside of my kitchen cupboard.  I got it at a mom’s group meeting.
Thanks R. Goodwill, this is convicting! 

Parenting is hard.  It takes you to an entirely different place.  You go from being someone who can take a shower whenever you want, stay up late, and sleep in on your day off.  You can do crazy things like go to concerts without getting a baby-sitter, or dance during worship time without stepping on Cheerios, teddy bears, little people.   You all of a sudden learn that life really doesn’t revolve around you.  It’s a great and sober place to be.  It’s new, challenging, and totally hard but its also deliciously good.  You have a little cookie baby, and you get to eat up those little cheeks, that little nose, and those little ears, every single day.

Parenting is hard.  It makes you have to learn to communicate with your spouse.  More than you ever have before. You have to start making all sorts of decisions together. Vaccinate?  Baby lead solids? Cloth diapers? That’s just the beginning.  The more they grow, the more you have to make decisions.  Part of the beauty of this is that it doesn’t happen over night.  You have time to learn and grow.  You have time to practice being on the same team.  Something we always say in our house is: “Mama and Papa are on the same team.”  Even though we don’t agree on every single point, we want our kids to know that we make decisions together.  It’s a good verbal reminder for us too, because we need to always remember that we are on the same team.  I suppose I could coin some cheesy quote like, “When Mom and Dad are on the same team the whole family wins!” True, but cheesy.

Being a mom is hard.  Sometimes you are shut out from the world and have no grown up interaction.  Sometimes you are up all night and then you have to be up all day. Sometimes you wish the world would stop so that you could just stare into your baby’s eyes forever.  Five minutes later you find yourself wishing they would grow up already because you are bored out of your (nursing) mind.  This time-warp bipolar-ness is normal. You have to learn to joyfully give of yourself, and to joyfully give to yourself.  You have to learn to sacrifice like you have never done before.  But you also have to learn to prioritize yourself.   You’ll learn when to do the dishes during nap time and when to just take a nap!  Give yourself time to learn.  Slow down.  Don’t expect to do and be everything that the non-mom version of you did.  You are a new person in a different season of life.  It doesn’t mean your whole life stops, it just means you need to have more grace for yourself.

Embrace sacrifice.  Embrace patience.  Parenting will shape you, grow you, make you wiser.  You won’t love every minute of it, but it will shape you into who you need to be.  Unlike some difficult tasks, there is a prize.  You get a wonderful little (occasionally screaming) bundle of love in return for all this work.  You will understand love in a new and beautiful way.  Sure, it’ll be hard, but its not like anything you have ever done.  It is an entirely different world.  Sometimes it’ll kill ya.  Sometimes it will bring out your worst, but sometimes it’ll bring out a new and improved you.  I think that once you come into this “other world”  you won’t want to trade it.  I know I wouldn’t.  Wouldn’t trade it for the world.

Here are two great articles I have read on parenting in the last week.