If I Could Tell My Younger Mom Self One Thing…

Reflections on Motherhood

By Katie Davis Majors

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It’s been 16 years since I first became a mom. I stepped into motherhood with great joy, excitement, anticipation, and with quite high expectations of myself.

I didn’t know at the time, just how much I didn’t know. I can say with confidence that motherhood is the hardest and most beautiful experience that God has entrusted me with. Motherhood would shape me, continues to shape me, more than anything else. Motherhood continually, increasingly, drives me into the arms of my Father.

I wish I could tell my young, striving, mother heart a thing or two. If I could, I would bring her weary frame a cup of coffee, and reach out across the years to hold her hand, and whisper all of the things that she did not know.

I didn’t know that one day my love for my children would consume me.

I didn’t know that I would want, more than anything else in the entire world, to protect them from all hurt and hard and sorrow.

And that when I couldn’t, I would learn to trust and surrender to my loving Father over and over again. Yes, my motherhood would shape them. But far more than that, it would shape me.

I knew many of my children for months or even years before I became their mother. When I first met them, I had no idea that this would be a bond we would share. Even when they first moved in and we filled out the foster care papers, I was tentative. I didn’t really feel like a mother, I felt like a stopgap in the system; a temporary solution. Even as we took steps to make their adoptions more permanent, after God had made it clear that we would be a forever family, I fumbled, often feeling more like a babysitter, or on good days, a fun aunt.

In those early days of laying sleepy heads on pillows and training tiny hearts to know Jesus, I had no comprehension of the wild, devastating, uncontainable love I would feel for them. 

I didn’t know that they would somehow be these little extensions of me, that when they hurt, I would hurt more deeply than I ever had before, and that when they showed delight over a success or an excitement for God’s Word, my heart would swell within me and I would be unable to contain tears of joy. I didn’t know that sometimes I would look at them and just love them so much that my heart would physically ache within my chest.

I didn’t know that I would blink and they would be grown up, and I would feel like their little lives were slipping through my fingers and I would want to just soak them up, pause the time, and savor the moments. Or that I had this unspoken expectation in my mind that they would grow up, and stay little, all at the same time. That no matter what, I would never feel that I had done well enough, loved hard enough, or taught them enough, but that wouldn’t keep me from pouring out every ounce of myself anyway.

And if I could give a piece of advice to my younger self it would be twofold:

1. Slow down.

The things that feel really big, like if they finished all their math homework, wore a nice outfit to church, had one too many popsicles in a day, or napped on a schedule, won’t feel big when they walk across the stage for college graduation or walk down the aisle to get married. 

The big things will be that you laughed loud at their jokes and held them when they cried. That you read stories on the couch and said prayers around the table. That you let the house be messy because it was always full. And that you let the laundry pile up some days, so that you could play outside an extra hour. Slow down, friends. It’s true what they say about the time flying by.

2. Pray.

I’ve wasted countless hours worrying, fretting, and planning, about things that happened and even about things that never did. In my desire to love and protect my people well, I have grasped at control and outcomes, and my own idea of good for my children. And what I have seen to be true over and over again is that He really does work it all out for good. Even that thing you are afraid of. Even that thing you are sure will be catastrophic. Even the gigantic mess. Long before you can see it, even if you can never see it, He is holding everything–our children, their lives, and their salvation–in His hands. 

And His hands are safe, and kind, and loving. Talk to Him. Cry out to Him. Entrust your children to Him. And find rest in the shadow of His wings.

If I could reach back in time and whisper to that younger version of me, I would tell her that she didn’t know Jesus the way I do now, before I became a mother, and that alone makes it all worth it.

My hope is that you will cherish God’s welcome invitation to know Him increasingly, in answering the high calling that is motherhood. No matter how He has enabled you to be a mom–in marriage, in singleness, through foster care, through childbirth, as a mother of one, as a mother of many–keep being faithful to Him as you parent your children. He’s shaping them through you. And He is shaping you through them.

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