Monday’s Mom this week is Mary M.! She’s a wife, new mom, teacher and blogger. I’m excited to share that she will also be contributing to the New Moms Category with Nikki!
Mary grew up in Nelson County, Virginia and attended UVA where she received a Bachelor of Arts in Religious Studies and a Master of Teaching in Elementary Education. After finishing school, she married her high school and college sweetheart in the church where they had met in 5th grade (which happens to be the same church her parents and grandparents were married in years before!). She and her husband just welcomed their first child, a son, this past November. She has taught 4th and 5th grade for the past 4 years at a small rural school just outside of Charlottesville. While she enjoys teaching, she loves being a mom even more, and hopes to soon be able to stay home with their little boy.
This morning a few friends from church were over with their sweet little children. I was the “odd woman out” – the only mother who is currently working. The other three ladies are all (for now) home with their children. They get together each week to “talk shop”, fellowship and share the joys and struggles on this journey of motherhood. I was a part of this group while on maternity leave, and was excited to be able to participate again this week while I am on spring break.
We enjoyed the chance to catch up and have a bit of adult interaction before it was time for us to put our kiddos down for naps, meet husbands for lunch or otherwise continue with our days. Before she left one of my friends said, “Hey, I’d love to make you guys a meal sometime soon.” I responded quickly and with sincere appreciation, “That’d be wonderful.”
Immediately I realized that this response was out of character for me, or at least, it was out of character for “pre-Eli” me. As I’ve mentioned before, I have learned SO much from having this sweet little boy. My son was not “planned” by the hubs and I (he was a surprise) but he was absolutely, beyond a shadow of a doubt, part of God’s plan for our lives. When I think about so many people I know who tried for years to have a child, I know that my “it only takes one time” baby is a miracle, a gift that God knew we needed, even though we were not yet aware.
I certainly believe that God gave us Eli in order to bless us tremendously, but I also know that it was for more than that. It was to grow us, to show us our sin, and to teach us more about Him and his ways. For me specifically, it was to make me less selfish, and to break down my pride.
The “pre-Eli” me would have responded to my friend, “Oh, you don’t have to do that, I have it under control.” She would have pretended and gone to her grave making everyone think that things were going perfectly with balancing working, being a wife, mom, daughter, sister and friend, trying to keep up with things around the house and attempting to spend time with God each day. She would have bent over backwards to make things seem completely and totally under control, even if they were falling apart around her.
I have learned over the past few years, and especially since having our son, the importance of genuine community. We absolutely were not meant to do this life alone. We need each other tremendously, and we need to be open and honest about our struggles in order to let our friends in and allow them to help carry our burdens. NOTHING is gained by pretending to have it all together and carrying the weight alone. The Bible, full of “one another” verses, says “Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ” Galatians 6:2. I’m thankful that God is (slowly but surely) breaking down my pride and allowing me to live a much fuller life, being genuine and more willing to accept help. I am also thankful for the gift of the “one anothers” in my life – the sweet, life-giving friends who walk beside me and help me as I try to be the wife and mother I’m called to be.
I am thrilled to share that this week’s Monday’s Mom! is Nikki H. She will now be a regular (ok–semi regular) contributor to our new category for New Moms! I’ve had the honor of teaching with her, and I know first-hand what a lively, beautiful, God-loving spirit she has. Welcome aboard, Nikki! She was born and raised in Pittsburgh, PA. and graduated from Penn State University with a degree in Elementary & Kindergarten Education. She and her husband met at Penn State through The Navigators campus ministry. A few months after they married, they moved to Charlottesville, VA for teaching jobs. Their beautiful son, who brings them so much joy, was born this past November! Her writing encourages all moms, new and seasoned, to embrace the joy, adventure, and realities of raising children!
Anyone connected to the world of pregnancy and childrearing knows that unsolicited advice freely flows from well-meaning strangers, friends, and family members alike. Just one look at your baby bump and you’re bound to hear comments about how and when to feed your baby, sleep your baby, clean your baby, dress your baby, and everything in between. Some of it is helpful, but in all honesty most of it is forgotten after the polite smile and nod are given.
However, it was during the end of my pregnancy when I received a piece of advice that I’ve fallen back on time and time again. It survived labor and delivery, and those first few foggy weeks at home. God has also used it to gently rebuke me and teach me more about Him.
The simple piece of advice was to BE PATIENT.
Little did I know how applicable this would be as a mom. If I’m honest with myself, patience is not something that flows naturally out of my being. In fact, I can be quite demanding of myself and especially of other people…including my sweet son. When will he stop needing to nurse every two hours? When will he be able to self-soothe? When will he find his thumb? When will he not need six naps a day? When will he be able to sleep through the night? Those are just some of the many questions I have typed into Google since he has been born. After one long, search engine stint regarding sleep habits of a six-week-old, I was convicted of my selfish desire to fix my son’s “sleep problems” so that I wouldn’t be inconvenienced anymore. Ouch.
The Greek word for patience is makrothymia and literally means long-suffering. It’s the ability to peacefully endure any situation…including dragging yourself out of bed each night or soothing the unsoothable baby. My desire for quick fixes and no pain hinders me from turning to the Lord for help, and it also leads me to wish away the short stages of my son’s life. The reality is that they do go by fast.
Since opportunities to be patient are built into motherhood, I need a Helper if I am ever going to be able to endure trying times and extend patience to my son the way God shows patience to me. Galatians 5:22 reminds me that, “the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control…” It’s not with a book, internet article, or my own will-power that I will be able to do those things. Instead, it is only through the Holy Spirit working in me.
God is so faithful, isn’t He? Even now, I find myself thinking, “I can’t wait until ___”, a lot less. There is so much to enjoy in each stage of our children’s lives. I’m thankful for the unsolicited advice my friend gave me because it has opened the door for God to teach me so many lessons as a new mom and to enjoy my son more. I hope it does the same for you.
Lord, thank you for being patient with me even when I am not patient with myself or with others. Thank you for opportunities each day to turn to you for help, especially ones where patience is required. Help me to mother my son in a way that brings honor and glory to you. Amen.