Someone asked me offhandedly the other day what I hadn’t known about being a mother before I became one. I think I was expected to give a one or two sentence answer, something along the lines of “I didn’t realize how hard it would be,” or “I didn’t know I would be so busy!” While those things are both true, even I was surprised at how quickly my mind filled and raced with the so many answers to these questions. What didn’t I know about being a mother?
I didn’t know that my love for them would consume me. Sure, I knew I would love my children. But 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; 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.
I didn’t know that I would see the sparkle of my eyes in theirs and hear the lilt of my voice when they spoke, or that I would smell the same scent of my skin when I kissed their foreheads or that over the years their laughs and their mannerisms would become more and more like mine. I didn’t foresee that I would sneak into their rooms late at night just to watch their chests rise and fall and study the way their little fingers curled around the edge of their blankets and that no matter how “big” they got I would still have the curves of even their fingertips etched in my mind.
I didn’t know the rejoicing I would feel as I watched them serve others, when I saw them devouring scripture, praying, or longing for more of God. And I sure didn’t know the inadequacy I would feel as I realized more and more that I was shaping them, helping God make them into the people that He intended them to be.
And at the end of the day I had no idea just how powerful and humbling it would be to acknowledge that it would only be God who could change them, redeem them, and save them, not me. Only He could work in their hearts and know their futures. Only He would had been with them all the days of their lives and would remain with them each day and receive all the glory.
And I didn’t know Jesus the way I do now, before I was a mother.
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.
Katie Davis Majors founded Amazima in 2008, and is the New York Times bestselling author of Kisses from Katie and Daring to Hope (releasing October 3rd). She lives in Uganda with her husband, Benji, and their 14 children, and serves as the Chief Visionary of Amazima Ministries.