I heard recently that mothers have to be visionaries to survive their role. They have to trust that the work they do today will bear fruit for the future. After all, they give their best to their children, day after day, week after week, year after year, not truly knowing how things will turn out.
Motherhood is just one long season of waiting for the unknown.
These days, my daily life is consumed with helping my toddler come to grips with the fact that naps are a necessary evil, that cheese, bread and cookies are not actually food groups, and that getting his face wiped with warm washcloth isn't nearly as bad as he wants me to believe. Trivial, small things. Things that, when not going well, I simply have to remind myself that he will likely not grow up to fight sleep, find only three foods preferable to his palette, or sport a dirty face throughout college. The fact is, my son will likely come to grips with these social norms later in life whether I diligently address them at this age or not.
So why do we mother's do what we do? Why to do we invest so much into the small things? Because we all know that motherhood is not really about napping, food and hygiene.
We care about these trivial things, because they are the start of training them into what or who we want them to become. We train them in the small things today, because we're looking ahead to bigger things in the future. The things of the heart.
Of the unpredictable, wayward, fickle heart.
Which is why, we mothers, we must be visionaries. We must trust that our investment today will reap a return in our child's heart 20, 30, 40 years in the future. But the scary thing is, our children are not safe, sure investments. We don't know what return we'll receive on our investment in them. We are investing in the unseen, the unknown and the unreliable.
It is humbling and weighty work to invest in children. It exposes us to potential (and likely) suffering. To heartbreak. To crushing, blinding, terrifying, grief, pain and sorrow. But someday, we trust, the risk will be worth it. That the hardships to come will surely be worth the price.
But there are days when I can't see the finish line. The ROI of my currency seems destined for failure, because I am a failure. Because I cannot do it alone. Because I am not enough. Because I may be a visionary, but I don't know where to go or what to do in the midst of the waiting from this moment in time until the future is realized - far, far down the long, windy road.
But then I remember, this work of waiting, it is nothing but a profound faith-work of God.
It is his love that anchors me as a mother in the midst of the waiting. The truth of the gospel is what carries me though. It is knowing and trusting that there is more to this life than what I see. Not the lies of the world that tell me sleeping, eating and hygiene are what's most important when raising a toddler. Not the lies that tell me I.Q., athleticism and musical abilities are what will carry my children, turned young adults, to the finish line of success.
No. To wait well, I must remember that I am working for a greater purpose than what the world wants me to believe.
Therefore I do not find my strength or truth as a mother a in parenting book, an online forum, or inspirational blog posts. I find my strength in God. I hear his truth sing in the gospel. A truth that sounds of many things. Its ring is mercy. Its tone is strength. Its cadence is faithful. It echoes of underserving love. And it trumpets with grace. It says, "While you were still a sinner, I chose you. I love you. I will strengthen you. I will make you enough. I will guide you. I will show you where to go. Come, rest in me."
And so I lean on these words during this long season of waiting. Knowing that the investment I am just beginning to make today is unsure, but trusting that God will return it to me in a way far greater and more wonderful than I can ever predict.
Knowing that God's grace was with me yesterday, and trusting that it will serve me yet again today, and again tomorrow, and ever after.
And in this season of waiting we mothers are in - that is the deepest hope of any kind there is.
And so we carry on, investing our best into our children, day after day, knowing the risk is worth it.
Because hearts are more important than talents and table manners. And a soul will long outlast man's praise. And so we mothers work tirelessly in this long season of waiting to give our children's heart and soul the best shot it has at true, eternal success.
It is an unpredictable, unsafe investment. But it is worth it.
*Much of these thoughts came after processing a wonderful talk I recently heard by Jonathan Parnell, who writes for Desiring God. I had been thinking about these things, and as usual, God met me and used Jonathan's words to hit my heart head on. If the talk ends up online, I'll be sure to link it here.