I recently attended a writers’ retreat where I chatted with several women who are both writers and also mothers of young children. It’s a hard road, wrangling toddlers alongside words. We talked curbing doubt, having it all, and honoring God in both spheres of influence.
I returned home just in time to catch the end of the Grammy Awards and was particularly struck by Adele’s acceptance speech for Album of the Year. No, not the part where she fan-girls Beyonce, but the part where she confesses, in front of millions, that being a mom is “really hard.” Her vulnerability immediately reminded me of my writer-friends who shared stories of motherhood with tear-filled eyes—and of my own early days as a mom to three daughters.
“Five years ago when I was last here,” Adele said, “I also was pregnant and I didn’t know and I found out shortly after, which was the biggest blessing of my life. And in my pregnancy and through becoming a mother I lost a lot of myself. I’ve struggled. And I still do struggle a bit being a mum. It’s really hard.”
Was that a collective sigh of relief I heard . . . or a hearty “Amen”?
As I’ve considered Adele’s words, I see three truths about motherhood every mom needs to hear. These are truths that, had I recognized them earlier in my parenting journey, could have saved me from much doubt and hardship.
1. It’s really hard.
I wish more young moms felt free to admit motherhood is difficult—not in order to wallow in the struggles, but to acknowledge we can’t do this on our own. Some days are just hard, plain and simple. It’s okay to admit our struggle, to be vulnerable, to ask for help. The work of parenting has eternal significance. We’d be naïve to ignore that the enemy hurls roadblocks along our path—doubt, weariness, and, above all, discouragement.
The apostle Paul compared being a gospel laborer to being “poured out as a drink offering” (2 Tim. 4:6). He gave everything until there was nothing left to give. That’s how motherhood feels most days.
But notice what he says next: “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith” (2 Tim. 4:7). Rather than wallowing in the difficulty of his calling, he reflects on what those hard days have meant. They have refined him, grown him. Paul knows the challenges, however dark, have been worth it.
Moms of older children, don’t sugarcoat the difficulties of the early mothering years. Let’s admit to our own hard days, and encourage younger moms in the race. The work of parenting is worth the sacrifices required.
2. I’ve struggled.
My early days of motherhood were the loneliest days of my life—not because I didn’t have people around me, but because I didn’t feel like I measured up. I looked at the remarkable women in my church and concluded I was the only one struggling. No way could these energetic, godly women be facing depression, anxiety, short tempers, or stretched finances. My isolation deepened.
My early days of motherhood were the loneliest days of my life—not because I didn’t have people around me, but because I didn’t feel like I measured up.
It took a jaw-dropping moment in a counselor’s office for me to learn I wasn’t the only mom who struggled. Now, every time I see a mother (including Adele!) assure another she gets it, she’s been there, and she’s come out the other side, I want to stand up and cheer.
Older moms, be honest about your struggles so that younger moms in your church don’t feel alone. Share how God’s grace has been sufficient and his power made perfect in your weaknesses (2 Cor. 12:9). Let’s model vulnerability—not to complain about our struggles, but to show others how God has met us in our weaknesses.
3. Motherhood is an incredible blessing.
Younger moms may not be able to see it yet, but this is the greatest truth of all: Motherhood is a blessing. Each day brims with invaluable moments: Hugs to give. Fingers to kiss. Tears to wipe away. Getting to watch our kids grow in faith and thrive under our care.
Yet these blessings require both perseverance and perspective.
Just as Paul persevered to bring the gospel amid hardship and suffering, we must persevere in discipling our kids. Each day brings new opportunities to guide them in Christlike character.
Having a gospel perspective revolutionizes our view of motherhood. When I stopped focusing on all I couldn’t do or all I thought I was missing, I found the freedom to focus on what I got to do—like shape the character of my daughters by teaching them God’s Word. My life as a mom became more joyful as I grasped the significance of my role. Only then did I learn the secret of contentment (Phil. 4:12).
Older moms, as you share the blessings as well as the hardships of motherhood with younger moms, you will fuel their perseverance and perspective.
Ultimately, the greatest blessing we receive as moms has nothing to do with our kids, but everything to do with the promise of God’s presence. Isaiah 40:11 assures us that God “gently leads those that are with young.” The presence of God, his tender care, and his promise to lead us as we carry out the calling he’s entrusted to us—these are the truest blessings of motherhood.