I was asked this question last night: “What do you wish you would have known about having kids before actually having them?”
As my brain raced through all of the reactions in my head to this question, there was a silence on the phone line. How do I even begin to share what motherhood is like to a high school senior, conducting an interview to fulfill a child development assignment? My hands were wet in the sink busy with dinner dishes, my three-year-old in the midst of the post-bath naked dash to get a Pull-Up, my living room a mess of clothes needing to be folded and books scattered everywhere.
What do I wish I would have known? How life-altering it is. How it can fill your heart and break it. How it magnifies every single selfish act. How it doesn’t stop. How it stretches you physically. How it is different for every person, with every child. How it exposes your weaknesses. How it challenges the way you spend your resources. How it opens doors to new experiences and situations and lots and lots of people. How it requires many weighty decisions. How it bonds. How it blesses. How it teaches. How it sieves out the unimportant. How it fulfills. How it empties. How complex it is. How much farther beyond one’s own capabilities it is. How wonderful picture books are. How amazing it is to introduce a young brain to life. How special to be someone else’s safe place. How honoring to be one of the voices to speak in to a little one’s soul. Tears find their way to the back of my eyes as I think about it.
But the ONE thing? Why not just ask me how to bring world peace? I think it might be easier to answer…
I exhaled and it came to me: the importance of a support system.
Because raising kids is beyond me. It’s beyond each of us. We can’t do it [well] on our own. And perhaps God planned it that way.
I think about what it would be like to try to be a mother without the help of my husband, without the example of my parents, without the experience of watching my brothers raise their children, without the unconditional love of the “grandparents” at church, without the friends and neighbors who welcome the boys alongside them as they change the oil or mow the lawn, without the people behind the websites that give advice, ideas and encouragement.
And, for me, the sticky, messy glue that holds these different pieces, prioritizes them puts them in their right place, and provides purpose for each piece is the Lord. My Father. The one whose wisdom, strength, courage, energy, determination, plan, foresight, forgiveness, compassion, love, and peace holds my life and heart. In every which way that I am weak as a mother, his strength is my support system. It sounds cliche as I write it down, but when my legs hit the ground chasing after three little people, I don’t need a small support. I need a BIG support. I don’t need just a mom’s group to see me through from week to week. I don't need just a date night every once in a while. I don’t need just another person to walk alongside me. I don’t need just a voice to give me advice.
I need God.
So I guess I wish I would have known how complex being a parent would be, and how I would desperately need a far-reaching support system. And how God would already be there, waiting for me and willingly giving me all that I would need.
“Now all glory to God, who is able to make you strong.” Romans 16:24a