I never realized how much motherhood means laying down your life. I mean don't get me wrong I knew it would require sacrifice...but I think until you are in the throw of things you don't really understand how much you will be laying down your life, preferences, and comforts for your child. Not to say it isn't a joy, it absolutely is, but one of the biggest struggles I have had is the loss of sleep which has become a bigger issue these past few nights. Miya has decided she has better things to do than to sleep at night...and on top of that when she does sleep at night she wants to be in our bed next to me...nowhere else. She used to love to sleep in her little comfy seat in our bedroom, but no more. Last night after her waking up about every hour or 2 by 3:30am I woke up to find a crying baby with a diaper that had oh so conveniently leaked all over me, our bed, and poor miya. With tears I looked at Lew and said "I don't think I can do this". In that moment I felt so weak, probably the weakest I have ever felt! My heart was saying "I want to care for my little girl!" but my body was saying "sleep...I so desperately need sleep!" Thankfully we were able to clean up the mess and I was able to feed her and get her back to sleep...but even this morning when she woke me up at 6, I felt that weakness turning into weariness. "How am I going to deal with a new day...and new challenges?"
Well I have found encouragement for my soul from many directions. First my sweet husband who gently and lovingly serves both of us and reminds my heart of truth when I am feeling doubtful. And my Mom who calls regularly to check in with me also called this morning. She reminded me that these are the years of sacrifice, Mothering young children isn't easy, but God gives grace! And my dear friend Renee who just listened to me and reminded me that all these temptations are common! Sometimes it helps just to be reminded that your normal :)
I also found encouragement in a book I have been reading called "The Ministry of Motherhood" by Sally Clarkson. I was reading the chapter called "The Grace of Time Together" and it hit me: right now I am called to care for my daughter and the best gift I can give her is my time. Time to love her, be awake with her, feed her, nurture her, and tend to her needs. And as she grows the time I give her may look different, but none the less the gift of my time will always be a gift of grace to my sweet girl, and Lord willing other children we may have. Now what I have really had to come to grips with is the fact that giving her my time means not giving my time to many other things! A few examples: cleaning (this looks VERY different now!), leisure, cooking, getting out, sleeping, and yes even showering. Some days it's hard to get the basic stuff in... and I am battling to remind myself that I am doing the most important things. If at the end of the day my husband is loved and cared for, and Miya is fed, clean, loved, and happy....then it was a successful day. How different this life looks than it once did. But oh how I want to emulate the sacrifice of our Savior to my daughter.
This particular section in "The Ministry of Motherhood" spoke to me:
I once had great feats I wanted my children to accomplish with their lives. I wanted them to have strong moral character and to be a testimony for Christ. I wanted them to be leaders to their lost and wondering friends. I wanted them to be excellent in their manners and conduct, work habits, and schoolwork and to be gracious and patient to each other I wanted them to take up their cross and follow hard after Christ in whatever they were asked to do.
I still have those dreams, of course. But I've also realized that my dreams are not necessarily what really motivate my children to become the best they can be. What matters to them is my loving presence....If I want them to be open to my messages, I need to be willing to serve them- to voluntarily give up my rights and my time to meet their felt needs-just as Jesus was willing to give for his disciples.
The night before Jesus was to be crucified his heart and mind must have been filled with such weariness and exhaustion at the thought of what he would soon endure. The sins of the whole world-throughout all of history! were about to be placed on his back as he laid down his life to pay the penalty for all of us. He knew he would be rejected by those who loved him, He would be beaten and scourged, spit upon, and wrongly sacrificed in the most demeaning way upon a cross while be handles by rough and sneering Roman soldiers Yet it is at this point we see him making a beautiful gesture of love and service towards his disciples:
"Now before the Feast of the Passover, when Jesus knew that his hour had come to depart out of this world to the Father, having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end. Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands, and that he had come from God and was going back to God, rose from supper. He laid aside his outer garments, and taking a towel, tied it around his waist. Then he poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples' feet and to wipe them with the towel that was wrapped around him" John 13:1,3-5
Jesus spent his last night on earth with his disciples in service to them. How powerful their memories of that night must have been--The King of the whole universe touching and rubbing their dusty feet and gently drying them with a towel....
Passing on the gift of grace to our children requires commitment and yes, a sacrifice--of time, love, and heart service. The grace we give by serving our children will provide them with a pattern to follow the rest of their lives. When they relate to their own friends, bosses, neighbors, spouses, and children, the example of our lives will steer the decisions they make. The grace they show to others will largely come from parents who learned it first from our own servant King.
Christ truly knew what it meant to feel weary, yet he chose to lay down his own comforts and serve his disciples. I am praying for this heart, the heart of our servant King. I am becoming more and more aware that this is a season of sowing seeds into my daughters heart and life. Even just by meeting her most basic needs in this season, I can exemplify servanthood by putting aside my own preferences and giving her my time and love. It may be a long while before I get to see any fruit, but I am sowing in faith for the future. I am finding there are so many lessons to learn from Motherhood! And it couldn't be any sweeter.