It wasn’t what I thought. It was WAAYYY hard. There was no instruction manual, and there were many times I would have given my life for some kind of instruction. No one in my family could help me. They had never lived through it. I was on my own. Parenting a child on the extreme end of the bell curve was the most difficult task I had ever been dealt.
Can you imagine if I feel this way, how Mary must have felt giving birth to Our Lord and Savior. Talk about parenting a child that is on the extreme end of the bell curve – Mary did just that. Can you imagine? She didn’t have a choice to school Jesus in a public versus private versus Montessori school. She didn’t get a choice to see a psychologist for all the pain and suffering that they would endure alone and as a family. She didn’t have medication to numb the pain. All she had was God directing her way. Come to find out, that is all she needed.
I am sure there were times that Mary wished there was some sort of instruction manual for how all this was supposed to work. How was she to raise the son of God? How would she know what to do? What did this even look like? Who do I have for support? Is there a support group for moms of kings? Regardless of what was going on in her mind, she said, “yes” anyway.
Now my story is different than Mary’s – go figure. I didn’t give birth to the King of the World. People weren’t going to spread rumors about how my children had been produced inside of me. Pete and I were in a happy marriage, and I am sure most of our friends realized that. I didn’t have to ride on a donkey through the desert to get to a stable where I would give birth. No, there was a hospital within driving distance. I didn’t have to endure the parenthood of a King either. Mary would be raising the King of all Kings. So let’s start this reflection with the thought in mind that I am no where close to Mary as a mother. I in no way believe that my struggles are as difficult as hers. Even better, I would like to preface this with – I am not perfect.
Our first two kids were pretty easy. Some people would call them “normal.” They are just kids, that act like society wants to see kids – that is what I define as normal. Our third child though dares to break the mold. She is amazing, assertive, independent, and stubborn. She also suffers deeply from anxiety and depression and complex seizures. No one offered me a manual for this. It is a day by day learning process. It is the greatest lesson in humility that anyone could ever ask for. It is a gift and a curse. It requires constant prayer for strength. It is not necessarily what I signed up for when I said yes, but it is what I got none the less. The thing is – it turned out pretty darn good – in a weird God sort of way.
The more I struggle with Kate, the more I can feel Mary’s pain as a mother. She would see her son ridiculed, tricked, slandered, and beaten to death on a cross. She knew full well that no matter how much she tried to control the situation, Jesus’ destiny was to die for all of us. She relinquished control to God. How else could she survive and be the strong mother that she was? Without God’s help and intervention, she would have been a hot mess.
Some days, I really feel her pain. There are days when I can barely put my feet on the floor and push myself out of bed. I just don’t want to endure the humility, the backlash, the comments, and the attitude that Katie has in store for me. I know that the day will be filled with painful, hurtful words at some point. But with all of that I have this strong feeling that I am the only relief from Katie’s inner pain. I am the one she can come to and lash out at. I am the one she needs when she is feeling so much pressure and pain. I am it. No matter how badly I want to take that pain away from her, I know I do not have control over any of it – God does. The sooner I learn that, the happier our family will be.
Motherhood wasn’t an easy choice for Mary, and it isn’t an easy choice for any of us. In fact, I will tell you there is NO MANUAL for how to be the best mom. And one more thing – raising kids is the hardest job you will ever have. Raising Godly kids in a judgmental world is even harder.
You see, I am the mom that you see in the grocery store and you wish she could control her kid. I am the mom who talks to her child in a calm voice and tries to reason with her; you walk away from this shaking your head and saying that woman is allowing her child to control her. I am the mom that has to take a deep breath when angry because of the mean words that come out of my daughter’s mouth, and you think you will NEVER let your kids talk to you that way. I am the mom who you judge. It only happens with one of my children, but it happens on a daily basis. I am judged everywhere because of my sweet Katie.
The thing is – this is the journey that God wants me to experience. Some of us (me included) get this rich view of motherhood that others never see and others never get to endure. My painful struggles reveal the beauty of my faith in God. The hurtful comments release my perseverance and patience (which come from God). Just like Mary, with God’s intervention and strength, I overcome obstacles that people judge me on. My trust in God is revealed to those who dare to stay around me and see my parenting. And trust me when I say sticking around is not easy, I am not kidding – you will endure some very unconventional parenting techniques. Because for me it is all an experiment to see what works the best.
Those days when I hit my wits end and I fall on my knees in prayer to God – I beg Him for instructions – just something to help me get through this very day. Every time I do this – which trust me is often – God reminds me He doesn’t even want me looking for an instruction manual. That ruins the journey. I have to experience it fully, completely – with Him at the wheel. I have to give it all to Him. I need to endure the humility of the judgment. I need to make choices that are hard and against the very foundation I was raised upon. I need to listen to Him and Him only.
This Advent season I am thanking Mary for saying “yes.” Thank you Mary for making me realize the importance and joy in the struggles of motherhood. Thank you Mary for reminding me that it all can be endured with God leading the way.