I’d like to put words to a difficult reality that all mothers face: your life changes very quickly in this season of raising and educating children. May I encourage you in the face of this?
One habit that can help you live in freedom amidst this fact is simply this: accept the reality of change. The daily rhythms that worked for your family last year, or even this past summer, may not work anymore. When you can acknowledge this truth, then you are free to consider what does work for your family now.
Maybe in the summer you enjoyed taking the kids outside first thing in the morning. You’d all get fresh air to start the day, you could get some exercise, and the kids could get some energy out. But now it’s late autumn and that may not work anymore. It’s still dark in the morning and it’s getting cold. Does that mean you shouldn’t have enjoyed your summertime ritual? Or that you should drag the kids out in the dark now? Of course not. It was great while it lasted and now your mornings look different.
2020 has brought a strange batch of major changes to families, making new, unexpected homeschoolers out of parents who never considered anything except public education prior to the pandemic. Life has been turned upside down in so many ways we took for granted. And the losses are painful.
Continually Adapt by Frequently Taking Stock
Accepting the reality of change means making a habit of asking yourself periodically what’s working and what isn’t for your family. It means considering new possibilities when it comes to rhythms, routines, and how to meet everyone’s needs. It means facing reality when a member of your family (whether that’s a child, your husband, or you) is truly struggling and needs help.
Here’s a clear example of how family life changes quickly. When you add a baby to your family, she can sleep anywhere during the day and she keeps you up at night. There’s some freedom in that reality: You can go to the park any time and she’ll nap there if she needs to. And there’s hardship in that: You are inevitably sleep deprived for a while.
As she grows, your baby will probably start sleeping better at night, but depending on her personality, she might need to be home in her own sleeping space for two solid naps a day. There’s some new freedom in that: You can function a little better because you’re sleeping more at night. And there is some restriction in that: You have to plan your schedule each day around getting her down for her two naps. And of course her sleep needs continue to change as she grows.
Embrace Change; Don't Fight It
As you move through these inevitable changes, you could choose to resent or ignore them. You could try to make your child’s new needs fit into old patterns. Or you can embrace the new reality and be grateful for the new freedoms and opportunities they present.
I think great freedom and dignity lies in this idea. You are a capable woman with God-given intelligence and hard-earned wisdom.
As your children grow, as you grow, as the needs of everyone in your family change, you will gain peace by doing what works until it doesn’t work anymore.
Then you reconsider your options.
I think this principle can apply to all sorts of aspects of a mother’s life. Here are some changes you can either resist or embrace:
- Your body changes as you carry children in your womb, give birth, and nurse them. Can you rejoice in the strong and competent body you have now?
- Your children have continually changing emotional needs. Accept what your children need from you in this season and know that it will continue to change.
- You’ll have seasons with discipline issues. Sometimes you will need to focus a lot on discipline and training. Then after a while it will pay off with an easier season.
- You personally will have times of expansion and times of turning inward. Some years you’ll have extra energy and turn outward to learn and absorb all sorts of new ideas and challenges. But eventually that will give way to a season where you’ll need to reign in and focus on the basics. Be grateful for the gifts of each season.
- Even the mundane tasks of housekeeping will ebb and flow. Some seasons you’re learning new recipes, deep cleaning, and redecorating. Other seasons you’re just keeping everyone fed and in clean clothes. Both are fine and worthy.
- Your spiritual needs may change over time. Sometimes the spiritual disciplines that used to be very meaningful don’t seem sufficient any more. Even as you persevere, you’ll discover that you need new ways of connecting with God—perhaps through learning a different approach to prayer or reading theologically challenging books.
- Your relationship with your husband changes, stretches and shifts. Neither you nor your husband are the same people you were when you married. As you both change and grow, consider what your relationship needs right now. Is there any way you two can connect now that you couldn’t before (perhaps a weekly walk together)? Be honest about what works now and celebrate that.
You Are Not a Prisoner
One of the big lies the enemy tells young moms is that things will always feel like this. If you’re overwhelmed with the daily grind, the enemy wants to steal your hope and make you feel like a prisoner to your circumstances. But that’s just not true. God is with you right now in your reality. And truly, as your family grows, things will change. It will not always be like this.
Even with the pandemic, hold fast to hope. As you cope with the forced restrictions to your lifestyle, maintain a vision for the day you will again enjoy what you've lost during this season. If you stand defiantly against the waves, they may batter you senseless. Instead, accept the changes, grieve your losses, and always maintain hope. Do your best to surf on top of the waves during this season when everything is changing.
As you assess your life honestly right now, may you have the freedom and courage to walk forward and do whatever God is calling you to do.
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