When I was newly married, I did not give much thought to having children. In-fact, we decided that we were not going to have children.
I’m not sure why my husband did not want children, but I know why I didn’t. There were a few reasons. One, I had no idea how to be a good mother, and I knew that. I figured that I’d just mess them up anyway, so why bother? I also saw all the suffering in this world and I thought, who wants that? Why bring someone into this mess?
I also thought that I was most likely infertile. Either myself or my husband because we didn’t take precautions and I never got pregnant.
Other than that, I didn’t think much about it.
Until my sister got pregnant.
I went with her to her ultrasound and I saw that tiny little life inside of her. How miraculous and wonderful!
I didn’t fully change my mind about having children, but I did begin to feel a kind of longing as I saw just how truly beautiful life was.
My sister had her first child, and this child was such a beauty and joy. Still is. ❤
Six months later, I had my first child, too.
My sweet baby boy, Seth.
One and a half years later, I had my second sweet boy, Riley.
I had some ideas about how to raise them, but I was focused on some things that seem kind of silly now. I also neglected some basic things that I wish I had known. I was not wrong before. I really did not know what I was doing, and it began to show.
By the time my children were ages 2 and 3, I had very unruly kids on my hands. They were sweet and incredibly brilliant, but their smarts and strong will—paired with a lack of discipline due to my fears of doing it wrong (and immaturity and lack of personal discipline myself), they were wild.
I don’t know who said this, but it is true: By the time your kids are three, they know whether it is their job to listen to you or your job to listen to them.
They ran the show, and they knew it.
Yet, I was also very busy working from home—to be with them, ironically enough—so they did not always get the attention necessary to form those oh so important attachments.
Let’s pause here. Here are two things I wish I had known as a young mom:
Discipline begins in infancy.
I thought that I should wait until my children were old enough to reason with before disciplining them, because to do so when they cannot understand was unfair. Wrong. So very, very wrong. Discipline starts from infancy, beginning with a simple and consistent bedtime routine.
Next, they must learn to obey the word, “no.” This begins as soon as they can reach for things or get into trouble. Next, they learn to manage their baser instincts of screaming, hitting, and so forth. I’m at that stage now with my current two-year old.
The first few years are critical for forming a healthy attachment.
Children need their mother, and nothing is more important than that. I understand that sometimes life makes it so that a mom has no choice but to work and provide for her children. However, as much as it is possible, make a point to prioritize mothering.
You can only get one shot at being someone’s mom.
You have a lifetime to build a career. The idea in our culture to build a career first and have kids next might seem to make sense, but I have found that the opposite is true.
Be there for your littles, because they are only little for a little while, and having a present, nurturing mother who they can trust and feel safe with is the foundation of good mental and emotional health.
Nothing is more important, so to whatever degree you can change things around to be a mom, choose being a mom. Let no one shame you, because if you choose otherwise, you will regret it and those sweet babies will suffer for it, and so will future generations if the effects are not mended.
Let’s make a third point.
You can fix your mistakes, and you will make plenty of them.
As I stated, I did not know how to be a mom, and it showed. My kids were badly behaved and though I loved them, the frustration I felt because of their behavior and the frustration they felt because of my absence made day to day life very difficult for us all.
However, there was a ton of joy and love also—and enough to force me to do something that I would not have done had I not became a mother.
I had to grow up.
I did not realize just how self-centered I was, how poorly disciplined I was, and how emotionally immature I was until I had kids, and until I loved them enough to realize that I could not parent them properly until I fixed myself first.
There were reasons why I knew that parenting would be a challenge for me, and I had a lot of deep issues to work on due to my own past and present circumstances.
However, bit by bit, progress was made. In some ways, it was one step forward and many steps back. Some days I thought all was hopeless and I would fulfill my greatest fear. I would mess up my kids beyond repair. But what could I do but keep going, and trust that as I healed, so would they? And this has been very true.
There is a lot of great resources out there for parents who do not know how to be parents, and it’s never too late to turn things around. However, it often means reparenting yourself, also.
Fast forward a few years.
My oldest son is nine. My second is seven. My third son, Myles just turned two, and so far, he is proof that by the grace of God, I can be a good mom.
My first two sons are doing just fine also. There are troubles that I know came largely from imperfect parenting during those precious and important formative years, but they are happy, kind, smart, healthy, kids who genuinely want to do what is right. God has been good to us.
I owe Jesus for it all.
It was after the birth of my first son that I started reading my bible after many years of thinking very little about Jesus. After the birth of my second son, I went through a very terrible personal crisis, turned to Jesus more fully, and committed my life to His service—and my sons to His service.
He has worked wonderful things, and though there are times when I still feel overwhelmed, exhausted, and those old fears crop up that make me think that I don’t know what I’m doing, or that I will fail them, or that I will mess them up, or that this world is too crewel, I just look at those wonderful children that God has made and I am thankful.
Life is good. Being a mom is good. It is also hard. It means dealing with pain and it also means facing the worst parts of yourself so that you can be there for those precious lives and give them a fighting chance in this world.
I don’t know it all about being a mom, and I know for a fact that there are moms who are much better than me. Maybe the things written here make some moms angry and others confused because they don’t understand why I had so much trouble.
Yet, I write this anyway because I know that there are many women out there who are terrified of being a mother. Maybe they are like me. Maybe they think they will just screw their kids up or maybe this world is too harsh for kids.
I write this because despite it all, I can say without a doubt that being a mom is the best! I would not trade it for anything, and I know that there is One who can help us if we want to grow as parents. Sure, you sacrifice yourself, but the parts you sacrifice are the parts that need to die anyway. What results is a life that is full of meaning, hope, and thankfulness.
Life is always better, and being a mom is not a choice that any mother truly regrets. Choosing to forego motherhood because of fear or the pursuit of ambitions in this world, however, is a choice that many women are going to regret.
Being a Mom is the Best!!
This post was inspired by a clip from The Andrew Klaven Show that addresses a serious problem.