Nov 18, 2014

A Mother is Like a Mitten

By Aubri Hale

Two weeks ago, my husband and I celebrated our seventh anniversary. We now have seven children ages 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 12 months, and our youngest, 17 weeks in the womb. My husband and I have been blessed beyond what either of us could have imagined. I had no idea going into marriage that I would be the mother to this many children in so little time.

I can only write on motherhood from my own experience, from the intensity of these years, with the constant needs of so many helpless children. I am often asked, “How do you do it?” And I have received comments such as, “You are so brave to have all these children.”

Well, I’m not brave; but I am blessed. And every day God reminds me how little, weak and frail I am. I wouldn’t say I ever feel brave. Anyone entrusted with a great treasure doesn’t suddenly feel brave, but vulnerable, worried and sometimes (to my shame) mad about it. Not brave.

Indeed, it is very hard carrying and raising a lot of children. It’s an overwhelming responsibility. My days are filled with making food, doing laundry, changing diapers and washing dishes. A mountain of work greets me every day. This is the work that has to be done and I’m the one who has to do it. I don’t always do it joyfully, but I’m learning to see this work as God does, as a holy and loving service to my neighbors. I’m learning to take one day at a time, getting done what I can when I can and at times leaving tasks that are less important in order to meet the greater needs of my husband and children. 

If you have more than a few children you’ve probably also had others say to you, “I could never do that.” I get this one sometimes, too. We can all look at situations in the lives of others and say that same thing. God has ordained that I should be the mother of these children. Sure, I grow weary of it and I admit that even I have said this of my own life: “I could never do that.” But God equips each of us with the grace and strength we need to do what He has put before us.

In sin, my flesh wonders if God knows what He’s doing by giving me all these babies. He says children are a blessing from Him. They force this selfish sinful mother to do selfless things. God is the giver of good things. My husband, my babies, my draining work of raising them --all of these are good gifts from Him.

As God has blessed me with more children, He has also blessed me with more love for them, even when I thought that wouldn’t be possible. With more children I have seen more love, and each day I get more than I give. I can tell you, you will be amazed at how much you are actually able to love another child, and another . . . and another.

It may be sappy, but what comes to mind when I think on this is the children’s book by Jan Brett, The Mitten. Instead of a mitten I think of my heart. God allows it to get bigger and bigger with each child, more and more of them created for our family and fitting snugly right into place (I just hope no one sneezes!). After each child comes, it is actually hard to remember the time before he or she was part of our life.

Our family is different from most families in our community. My children won’t be able to have all the space, toys, or electronics that their friends have, or participate in the extra activities their friends do. We might not be able to go together to the places other families can go. But when I watch my oldest girls who are just 10 months apart playing, giggling, and whispering together, I can’t imagine them not having each other. And I have seen that over and over again with all our other babies. Each new child brings another person into our family to love, to give hugs and kisses to and to play with. There is another brother or sister for my children to have throughout their lives. My children might miss out on a few things I’d like to fit into their childhood, but I trust that what they are gaining is far better.

Seeing their excitement over a baby that finally begins to stand or walk or say words is utter joy for me. There are moments I feel like I might burst with love. There is great joy in seeing each of my babies baptized into Christ. There is joy in teaching them the faith, in hearing them recite the Creed and pray the Lord’s Prayer. My children make me laugh and make me proud. Plus, they’re pretty darn cute.

But God’s good gifts do come with pain. Christians live under the cross. The demands that come with motherhood tear down any allusions that I had of myself as a loving person. Motherhood requires great patience, kindness, gentleness and love that I quickly run out of on my own. A great struggle with sin for me has been fear. With each new baby I face the same fear, because I don’t know how I’ll be able to manage to survive. So much of my time, energy, and patience is already expended. I worry over how I’ll emotionally and physically stand up under the load of having more babies. How will I take care of them, show them affection and give attention to each one the way I want to be able to?

But God their Heavenly Father loves them more than I ever will be able to. He does the greater work. He loves them in much better ways than their weak mama can, and I’ve seen again and again how he gives to this mother what I need to serve my children. Love is the physical giving of yourself. From having a child grow in your womb, to screaming him into the world, to every day after, love is taking care of his many needs. Love is living for another person. That kind of love hurts. It’s exhausting, and it’s a miracle.

This love can only come from our Heavenly Father who tells us that HE is Love. He is a loving God that blesses us with more love. Being a mother shows you such sin and great weakness, but God can use motherhood to bring you to the end of yourself, leaving only Him, His strength, His goodness and His love to rely on.

The Large Catechism teaches us that the true honor of God’s name is to look to it and call upon Him for all consolation and help. We have a loving Father who richly and daily provides all that we need to support this body and life, perhaps not the way we want Him to, but in the way He sees as good and right.

Though at times I feel alone, overwhelmed and burdened by motherhood, God has never left me. He is faithful and has always been my help. His help comes to me in many ways, through my husband, a generous neighbor and through my children who are beginning to figure out how to help and comfort one another.

God has shown me, after each child comes, how little my fears are and how great His goodness is. In His mercy He lifts me out of myself. He lifts my downcast face out of the piles of laundry, out of the dishes and diapers, and restores me with His promise of the eternal riches in the life to come. I have learned that this is the greatest lesson of motherhood. He continually must grant me an eternal perspective, helping me to see the bigger picture. The momentary light afflictions of motherhood pale in comparison to the glory to come. I pray that one day I will stand before God with all of my babies, rejoicing in His great compassion, forgiveness and grace.

God has made my husband and me rich with so much love and life in our home. We’ve accepted His gifts humbly and not so humbly—fearfully at times—but here we are, blessed. I’m amazed that God would continue to open my womb and our family to more life. I am blessed seven times now with a front row seat of watching God’s greatest creations as they grow and change, as God is changing all of us together.



***

Fellow-bloggers: Don't forget that you can join our link-up party with an Advent post anytime between now and Christmas. The links are also a way to find fellow Lutherans online.

***


Aubri Hale lives in Bancroft, Nebraska. She is the wife of a pastor and a keeper of house, unmatched socks, and too many sippy cups. She and her husband have six children and a seventh due in April of 2015. She was raised in Texas and received a BA in History from the University of Texas at Austin, but always just wanted to be a wife and mother. She enjoys singing hymns, observing the church year with her family, baking muffins, reading if she can stay awake and drinking strong coffee. Aubri blogs at A Bundle of Myrrh and The Church Year in the Home.


2 comments:

  1. This was such a beautiful and encouraging post! Thank you for sharing. :)

    ~Bridget~

    ReplyDelete
  2. I feel like you read my mind when you were writing this. Thank you.

    ReplyDelete

We love knowing what thoughts and ideas this article sparked. Please leave comments, but do remember Luther's explanation of the eighth commandment, and "put the best construction" on the intentions of the author and other readers.

If you are not signed in via Google or another platform, we appreciate it when you sign off with your name instead of remaining one of the anonymous millions of the internet.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...