When my daughter was born three years ago I went from having to do lists within my to do lists to being a mother with one purpose: to help my baby grow. She had feeding problems that meant she needed more care than many newborns, and I was catapulted into a completely different world. Here, with no measurable achievements and different rules, my life changed totally.
Even when she was better, I still had to get used to the world of motherhood. As well as the more mundane lessons of how to change a nappy, how to put the buggy together and remembering all the myriad things you need to leave the house in a day, I learned some big lessons. Here they are:
1. Value does not depend on achievement
Matthew 3.17 “and behold, a voice from heaven said, ‘This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.’
I’d been doing everything, and now it felt like I was doing nothing. I had been ticking off tasks and now was ticking off Netflix episodes I consumed whilst endlessly feeding my baby. It didn’t feel good! As I prayed and came to terms with things, I learned in a whole new way that to God I wasn’t a tool created to do a task but a beloved daughter.
God the Father was well pleased with Jesus before he’d done anything. I was no less because I was doing less.
2. Restrictions create freedom to choose
Matthew 6.33 “But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.”
As a task-focussed person I had been used to saying yes to almost everything, and usually getting it done even if it meant very late nights and early mornings. Enter children. Suddenly my time and capacity had a limit, and I had to prioritise the things that are really important.
Though it felt restrictive, it actually created a platform for choice. Now I fill my time with the things that I decide are right for me to do. And because time is so precious, I’m often more productive than ever with the time I do have.
3. Seasonal living takes away the pressure
Ecclesiastes 3.1 “There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens.”
I couldn’t see or imagine how life would ever possibly get easier again. Obviously it did and does, but I felt like life as I knew it had gone forever. Gradually I accepted that life is seasonal: that this too will pass. It has helped me to embrace and love motherhood and the new challenges coming my way, and to see how God was at work in me in that season as well as every other.
4. Promises are beyond my constant productivity
Exodus 14.14 “The Lord will fight for you, you only need be still”
I found it quite easy to believe in the dreams and promises God had for my life when I was working on them too. Though having children was also a dream, moving into a time when I wasn’t doing anything to further my other plans brought doubt that they would happen. But they don’t depend on me, but on God. He hadn’t stopped working on them though I had to. Life is seasonal, God is not.
5. Order is better than control
Proverbs 3 5-8 Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.
As a child I used to ask my Mum the plan for the day, every day. I like to know what is going to happen, to plan and control my world as much as I can. Then came children, agents of chaos. It is my job as a parent to create order in the chaos, but that often means relinquishing control, changing plans and adapting to circumstances. I am no longer under the illusion that I am in control, and I’m better for it.
I love being a Mum, but mentally it has been a journey and a big transition. But I know that everything I’ve learned has made me a bigger, better and stronger person, both for parenting my kids and for everything else that is to come.
Anna is Assistant Pastor at Hope City London along with her husband Aidan. She has two children, Kezia and William, loves being creative in any way she can and is losing the battle against turning into her own mother.