Dear Mom of Little Ones, you’ve heard us as older women say some pretty dumb things, like “Enjoy every minute your kids are little.” Y’all we get a little nostalgic and forget just how hard it is to be in the trenches of toddlerhood. Thank you for not slapping us in the face.
The truth is, you don’t have to enjoy every minute of motherhood to be a great mom.
No, you don’t have to enjoy the screaming and crying and fit throwing. Or the sleepless nights.
And you don’t have to enjoy the days and weeks and years of feeling exhausted and overwhelmed. Or having someone constantly cling to you and demand more and more when you long for just a few minutes by yourself.
As they get older, you don’t have to enjoy all of those minutes either.
You don’t have to enjoy the sibling fights. And you definitely don’t have to enjoy the eye rolls—that special gift they develop as they get older.
You don’t have to enjoy any of these: Watching your children in physical or emotional pain, or waiting up when they don’t get home when you expect them to. Feeling helpless as they struggle to learn something. Seeing them lose something or someone they love.
No, you don’t have to enjoy every minute of motherhood.
But let me encourage you Dear Mom with some different advice: Treasure.
Treasuring is different than enjoying. The word treasure comes from the French word tresor, meaning “something of great worth.” It means “hold dear; value highly.”
I think of Mary, the mother of Jesus, about what she treasured in her heart.
And [the shepherds] went with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby lying in a manger. And when they saw it, they made known the saying that had been told them concerning this child. And all who heard it wondered at what the shepherds told them. But Mary treasured up all these things, pondering them in her heart. (Luke 2:16–19, Emphasis added)
Mary this young woman, chosen by God to be the mother of Jesus. She believed God. She had faith. Her circumstances weren’t comfortable in any way—found pregnant before her marriage, at risk of losing Joseph. And just think of traveling to find there is no room for you to stay when your arrive. Of giving birth and laying your baby in a manger.
But as Mary watched the events unfold she treasured the truth of God’s message to her. His gift to her and the whole world. She treasured the unfolding of God’s story.
She continued to treasure.
Later on when Mary and Joseph realized that Jesus, age 12, was not with them as they traveled back from Jerusalem. It says,
but supposing him to be in the group they went a day’s journey, but then they began to search for him among their relatives and acquaintances, and when they did not find him, they returned to Jerusalem, searching for him. (Luke 2:44–45)
You’ve probably felt that moment of panic. You look around in a store or a crowd and you don’t see your child. Oh, how Mary must have felt. I feel confident that this was one of the moments she didn’t enjoy! But the story has a happy ending. They find him in the temple, sitting, listening, and asking questions of the teachers.
And he said to them, “Why were you looking for me? Did you not know that I must be in my Father’s house?” And they did not understand the saying that he spoke to them. And he went down with them and came to Nazareth and was submissive to them. And his mother treasured up all these things in her heart. (Luke 2:49–51)
And again she sees the unfolding of God’s story.
Would these treasures sustain her in the difficult days to come?
- When His family thought He was out of his mind? (Mark 3:21)
- While waiting outside calling to Him? (Mark 3:31-35)
- As she watched her son crucified on a cross? (John 19:25)
What Can You Treasure?
The truth is, motherhood is hard. No matter what age or stage your children are in. There are simply times you won’t enjoy every minute of motherhood. But keeping a few treasures in your heart will sustain you, too.
1. Treasure the little things that make your heart sing.
Their tiny hand grasping yours, little arms wrapped around your neck, and the funny way they say things. The peaceful expression on their faces as they sleep (and the fact that they are sleeping!).
Treasure the moments when you see them tender their heart toward God. And when they grow in their faith. Notice those times they are kind to someone else, when they try to help as imperfect as it might be.
Hold dear the unfolding of God’s story in their lives.
Cling to these moments. Let them sustain you through the difficult hours and days. Remember them when you just want to run away from it all. And when you feel like a complete failure.
Related: Dear Mom of Little Ones
2. Treasure that surrendering yourself to motherhood is growing you spiritually.
Motherhood is a tool God uses to sanctify us. And it is a powerful tool indeed. Nothing will make you confront your own sinful nature like marriage and motherhood.
I remember being so exhausted, rocking my first child night after night. He wasn’t really into the sleep thing. I remember praying. Praying he would just go to sleep. Telling God how completely done I felt. But the answer I wanted didn’t come.
There was a moment, though, in my praying that God seemed to speak to my weary mother’s heart. “Why not change your prayer? Pray for patience and strength in the midst of your exhaustion. Pray for the son you rock in your arms.” And so I did. I surrendered my will for His.
No, my little boy didn’t start sleeping through the night. But I was able to handle it better. It was the first taste of God’s teaching and refining through the fires of motherhood.
Motherhood drives us to our knees. It humbles us.
3. Treasure what you are learning through motherhood.
Motherhood is a great teacher. We learn
- To give, even when the other person can’t return the gift.
- How to love even when we don’t like the way the other person is acting.
- To choose the best instead of the easiest.
- How to keep our focus on the goal and not the moment.
And perhaps most of all, we realize we are not in control. So we have to lean on the One who is.
From some other moms.
Here are what a few of the moms said from our Facebook community, Encouragement for the Christian Homeschool Mom, when I asked what motherhood has taught them:
“Motherhood has taught me a whole new level of patience and endurance. And gratitude for God’s patience! Also How necessary a sense of humor is!” —Aryn of Aryn the Librarian
“During all the years as a preschool, daycare teacher, and a para in a school I had many opinions as to what parents should and shouldn’t do, say, act. I had opinions on good or bad parents. I would say to myself, ‘Well, that won’t work,’ or ‘I’ll never do that as a parent!’… Needless to say, pride comes before a fall! I learned right away that I knew NOTHING about parenting and I apologized to every mother I’d ever known on FB. Becoming a mom was very humbling!” —Jennifer D.
“Motherhood is trying to teach me patience. It’s also providing me with opportunities for self reflection. I wasn’t close to any kids before and their insights are just phenomenal.” —Jackie L.
“To be selfless.” —Jeriann T.
“I dont think I could ever cover all that motherhood is teaching me, only because it’s ongoing. I realize I am better for all of it; the tough, the beautiful, and even the crazy. It’s stretching me, but I had to allow it. Once you shift your perspective it’s easier to manage. I often remind myself these will all be memories one day, memories as in gone. I strive to be intentional when I can, I realize I will never complete it all, perfect is an illusion. I continue to be the best servant to my precious family that I can be, and love hard! Motherhood is perfect in all of it’s imperfections.” —Courtney Messick of Grace, Grow & Edify.
Related: Dear Mom, Are You Tired?
No, you don’t have to enjoy every minute of motherhood to be a great mom.
But go ahead, treasure it. Not because you love every minute of it. Treasure it for all you see God doing in the midst of it.
Scripture quotations are from the ESV® Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved. May not copy or download more than 500 consecutive verses of the ESV Bible or more than one half of any book of the ESV Bible.