For the Mother Whose Life Feels Small

It has been a while since I’ve written. I’ve wanted to write, but honestly, I just haven’t had much to say and don’t want to write something just to write something. With the New Year, I’ve been reflecting back on where my writing took me in 2015. I don’t regret a single thing I wrote, but it has caused me to sort of re-examine why I write and what I want my writing to achieve. I think the ultimate answer to that question is that I’d like my writing to enlighten or encourage and, in the best of cases, both.

I remember driving back to school the summer before my junior year of college and calling my dad to tell him I didn’t want to study Microbiology anymore. “I want to write,” I told him. It was a little crazy, but I changed my major to Philosophy halfway through school and as I got into my studies, I knew I had made the right decision. I felt so assured of God’s purpose for me. My strengths, my passions, and God’s plan all seemed to be in perfect alignment. And they were, although in a different way than I thought at the time. I saw myself doing what I loved, thinking and writing, and doing it for the glory of God. If I was honest though, I envisioned more than a little glory for myself too.

It’s funny how as we get a little older, we realize that our lives are not going to be quite the movie or biographical material we thought they would be. It can come as a bit of a shock to our individualistic American sensibilities that we are after all, quite common. Growing up, I was a star. I say this not to applaud myself, but more to laugh at myself retrospectively. I was a star athlete, a star student. Man, I had potential. With my perfect GPA and variety of extra-curricular activities, I felt as if I was on an upward path to something really special.

Now sometimes, I feel more like a rocket that failed to launch. My days are quiet, as quiet as days with a one year old can be. Each day is a repetitive cycle of diapers, dishes, and laundry. My greatest recent achievement is teaching my son where his nose is, which he points to and inevitably starts picking. I love being home with him. I treasure the moments of tickle-induced giggles and sleepy bedtime snuggles. I wouldn’t trade any of it. I know I am so incredibly blessed.

But sometimes, my life just feels small, so very insignificant. I look at people who I went to school with, out conquering the world and doing big, important things and think, What am I doing? Putting on real pants if I’m having an especially motivated day, that’s what. “I know what I’m doing is important,” I told my husband the other day, “but it just doesn’t feel very important.”

What I’m learning, really re-learning and then re-re-learning, is that importance cannot be measured in audience members or applause or even in difficulty. The greatest of tasks can be cloaked in the humble and ordinary. Purpose is not always tangible and it’s often delayed in fulfillment. The one who sows the seed waters bare ground for days before he sees any reason to. And then it is many years until that seedling becomes a great tree. So it is, I think, with being a parent of little ones.

My husband and I met with our pastor today to get some advice about starting to discipline. On the way home, I was thinking about the end goal, the vision of the godly man I hope my son will grow to be. I was struck by what a great task the Lord has given us and how very important it is, but that that importance is only felt in light of this far-off vision. What this world needs most apart from Jesus Himself is men and women who are like Him. And so it needs fathers and mothers who do the mundane task of watering and nurturing our children like the tiny plants they are. That is my task, my great, great task which for the moment, feels so very, very small.

So for now, I’ll teach my son where his ears and feet are. I’ll make sure he has a clean diaper and keeps his fingers out of outlets. I will do these menial tasks to meet his basic needs, to love him. But someday…someday, I will teach him greater things. I will teach him to love what is good and to hate what is evil, to cling to what is honorable and right and true. I will point him to Jesus, to life. And someday, I pray, he will be like a tree, planted by the stream which is Christ (Jeremiah 17:7), bearing much fruit and offering shade to the weary. I hope that day comes and that then he will know what I am learning: the most important things in life are often what make us the least self-important and the greatest life is the life which is given away.

 

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39 thoughts on “For the Mother Whose Life Feels Small

  1. Libby Borders says:

    What a beautifully written message and please don’t feel “small” about your role as your son’s mother! You are sooooo important to your son’s development! Stay at home and teach him what YOU want him to KNOW and believe! With much love, hugs and encouragement!

  2. cjsledgehammer says:

    Damn, girl, you have selflessly sign-up for the most noble profession of all time, while ensuring that the gates of hell will never prosper. Without magnificent women like you – planet earth would crumble to its knees.

    It is decent, loving and faithful wives and mothers that keep this world afloat…not grandiose career fields, governments or vast armies. In a word: you make everyone around you better, and in doing so, you are great in the eyes of those that matter. You are truly inspirational and have my deepest respect.

  3. Melanie says:

    Love this. Love you!! This echos not only mothering but ministry as well. You are a blessing to so many and THAT is really important.

  4. Ken says:

    Sometimes I wonder my mom felt the same way you did. I know she did-as she wrote so in her diary. As a single mom, she had to give up most of her dreams (if not all) in order to support me and my sister. Growing up, I saw her struggle (with finance, parenting, loss of dreams etc.). She constantly felt like a failure to us because she wasn’t available for us (due to work) and we didn’t have much. She had to give up her dream of living abroad. She felt guilty of her failed marriage. On many levels, she felt insignificant and I could see why. She passed away when I was a teenager which was really traumatic to me. However, what kept me going was the way she loved me. In spite of the life’s challenges, she demonstrated sacrificial love toward me which taught me about God’s love. As I reflect on my time with her on earth, I realize how much of a blessing she was to me. She didn’t leave me with a lot of money or fame but love. Her example of unconditional love was the most valuable gift I could ever receive.

    I know one day your son will realize how God blessed, taught, and showed love to him through you. Through struggles and trials, you are making a legacy for those around you!

  5. jimstover49 says:

    In the Halls of Heaven, where it counts, I’d venture a guess that you are famous. Words containing truth such as you’ve written are apples of gold, they undoubtedly will reach far beyond what you can currently imagine.

  6. Denis Rogers says:

    Thanx for sharing. I’m one of 13 and mom was always busy and always felt inadequate to the task we posed. I am almost 60 now and am just learning how important it is to know who the Holy Spirit is. Do me a favor, as you teach your son about Jesus – don’t forget or neglect the person of the Trinity who’s time is now since Jesus went back to sent Him to us. And thank you for doing so.

  7. greatmom55 says:

    Finally…something with which I agree and can get on board. Being a mother is at times a thankless job but one which makes me feel incredibly thankful. My childen have been my greatest accomplishment and I applaud the author’s sentiment and efforts. I would remind her (and I’m speaking from many years of successful maternal experience, not as the mother of a one year old) that it is not our job to fashion and form our children much as a gardener would sculpt a topiary. It is our job to share, inform, enlighten, guide, advise and above all to love unconditionally, and, ultimately, to let our children find their own way. Only then can they be truly happy, fully functioning human beings, secure in who they are and the path they have chosen. To guilt our children into choosing a career, a religion, or anything in life, is to do them an incredible injustice so I hope the author can find it within herself to keep an open mind as her child grows, develops, wonders, seeks and becomes his own person. Good luck and Godspeed on your journey, little one, and I hope you can become as wonderful a young adult as did my precious children. Good luck to you as well, mom. It’s an incredible ride!

    • Greatmom55:

      The Bible instructs us to train our children in the way they should go, so they do not depart from the path…not “let our children find their own way.” Then again, if parents are always “open-minded”, how will they ever settle on a course of action or come to know the truth? How is it wise to be perpetually looking for alternatives? How can one be a good parent if they do not know the truth or the best course of action?

      • greatmom55 says:

        Surely not going to debate with you regarding parenting, Mr. Hammer. In this arena, I have no doubt as to what works and what does not. The proof is in the pudding…two stellar human beings, raised with uncondiitional love but allowed to seek, ask, learn, broaden their horizons and become all they were meant to be. Perhaps children who are stifled, riddled with guilt, forced to be square pegs in round holes, is what works in your family, and hats off to you, I suppose. I wanted so much more for my children. Any good parent should. All of that said, should the author choose to follow your words of “wisdom,” that is her prerogative. I was simply passing on knowledge gained from years…decades…of experience. I have no interest in engaging in some cyber argument with you. Once a bully, always a bully.

      • Gmom55:

        “I was simply passing on knowledge gained from years…decades…of experience.”

        I also have knowledge gained from years…decades…of experience, so what does that prove? I reared 3 Godly young men, all of whom are Eagle Scouts (on my own). Try being a single parent for 20 years and then we’ll talk.

        In the eyes of the world, a girl who sleeps with 10 boys and a couple of girls before her 18th birthday, and who has only needed one abortion, is thought to be “righteous” by earthly standards, whereas Emily wants her baby boy to be a productive and honorable young man, in this life and in the life to come. She’s wise enough to know that her son must be shown the path and she is willing to walk with him on that narrow path, until he can walk on his own.

      • greatmom55 says:

        Not engaging you. Period.

    • ilaangelina says:

      Just couldn’t help yourself…….smh…..wow!

    • Gmom55:

      “It is our job to…love unconditionally, and, ultimately, to let our children find their own way.” – Gmom55

      Not even the animal kingdom allows their young to “find their own way”. Why? Because they would die in a hurry. Sounds like you could learn a thing or two about good parenting from a mother warthog.

      “Only then can they be truly happy, fully functioning human beings, secure in who they are and the path they have chosen” – Gmom55

      How can your children be “secure in who they are” and secure in “the path they have chosen”, if they are perpetually open-minded like their mother claims to be? Open-mindedness leads to uncertainty not security.

      “…I hope the author can find it within herself to keep an open mind as her child grows….” – Gmom55

      Emily has already found spiritual and intellectual satisfaction of the highest order and deepest magnitude in Christ, so why would she keep an open mind? Open-mindedness can benefit someone who is searching for something, but it is silly to proceed in this fashion once it has been found. Should one continue to keep an open mind by continuously searching the dating pool, after they have found their soul mate? For what benefit and to what end? When does it stop?

      Gmom55…you talk about the qualities of open-mindedness and how children should find their own way, but then you prove yourself to be a liar when you tell Emily how she should think and how she should mother her child. I know you well enough to conclude that you are open-minded as long as it’s a worldly cause or alternative, but you are closed-minded and hostile when it comes to Christianity and Godliness.

      • greatmom55 says:

        What part of “not engaging you” do you not understand? Your nonsensical ramblings mean absolutely nothing to me. But you have a fabulous day! 🙂

      • “What part of “not engaging you” do you not understand? Your nonsensical ramblings mean absolutely nothing to me.” – Gmom

        Charming as always, Gmom55, but you’re wrong – my “nonsensical ramblings” ruffle your feathers, not because they’re foolish, but because they’re true.

        P.S. The whole world knows you like to mess with Emily because you are hoping to run into me. Why deny the obvious?

      • greatmom55 says:

        Ha! What an inflated ego. I believe I ruffle your feathers much more than you do mine, which is clear from your insults and hostility, and your inability to have a rational debate or discussion. You are, however, a great source of entertainment for me and those I share your posts with. You generate some great laughs so thanks for that. Have a lovely evening. :):)

      • Gmom55:

        I was trying to be factual…not humorous. And, once again, you are engaging me the first chance you get – violating your oath of silence. How are you going to explain this to your friends, colleagues and coven? The only thing I can think of…is that you find a man with morals deeply appealing, but you’re too shy to admit it.

      • greatmom55 says:

        Never took a vow of “silence.” “Engaging” obviously refers to making any attempt at a rational discussion with you. That I’m not doing so I have nothing to explain to anyone, least of all you, but it’s quite entertaining to see how easily you’re goaded. You may not attempt to be humorous but you certainly are that. As far as finding you “appealing,” that’s the best laugh of all. Are you related to The Donald? Your egos seem to be pretty similar, as well as some of your twisted viewpoints.

      • I don’t know, madame, you are keenly focused on what Emily thinks and does and you have no problem pushing your opinions on her, as if she needed your guidance or advice. For someone who is always running off to a stranger’s website to tell her how wayward her world-views and friends are – seems downright arrogant to me.

      • greatmom55 says:

        When one is so bold as to post their world view and opinions on the internet, they knowingly invite the input and viewpoints of others, to-wit, she has a “Comments” section. To issue said invitation, then conclude that those responding in kind, merely speaking their minds, which is their right, are arrogant says much more about you (and Emily, if she shares your opinion) than it does about me. Have a super duper evening, Mr Hammer. 🙂

      • Yes…and you’ve stated your opinions and registered your attacks ad nauseam. The truth is that you are on a personal crusade to corrupt Emily and destroy her ministry. Either you hate God, love arguing, or you are infatuated with your own opinion (I suspect all the above).

        Just because Emily has a comment section after each of her articles, does not mean you have to leave your views behind…unless, of course, you think your views reign supreme. I personally think you detest purity (in all its forms) and seek to stain that which is innocent.

        Surely there is more to your life than the senseless harassment of a virtuous young mother. Why don’t you write your own blog instead of deriding her’s? I would love to do unto you, what you have done unto her.

      • greatmom55 says:

        LOL. As the kids these days would say, Mr. Hammer…whatever. Thankfully I am under no obligation to take instruction from you so if you don’t like what I say here, stop reading and responding. Ignore it. Move on. Get a life. Get a clue. Nite nite, sleep tight.

    • emmaschuch says:

      I’m not sure what all has gone on in the comment section here…Don’t really want to get into the debate and frankly, I’m sad that it turned into a debate as I hoped this post would be mostly neutral and simply encouraging. So I just wanted to say thank you for your words of advice and encouragement and that I’m glad we could find something to agree on. Motherhood is a great honor and responsibility. Undoubtedly, we might have different approaches to parenting, but I really have no desire nor see any point in hashing that out on the internet. It sounds like you were and are a loving, committed mother who wants the best for her kids and in that, we can find common ground. God bless.

      • greatmom55 says:

        My dear, that is all I was trying to say. I’m not sure why Mr. Hammer decided he needed to chime in, when I was simply wishing you and your family much love and light, but that’s all it was. I believe we are two people who differ in many ways but who share a mother’s heart, which I’m afraid Mr. Hammer can never comprehend. I wasn’t trying initiate a debate or argument, because on the topic of loving our children I don’t believe there is one. I truly was pleased that we had this common ground and I thought your post was touching and tender. Sometimes it’s nothing more complicated than that, but sometimes others can’t grasp that concept. Again, enjoy the journey and make every memory you can. Only another mother can truly understand the incredible journey it is! Blessed be.

  8. This post is so on-target and full of truth, I forwarded it to two stay-at-home-mothers-of-little-people to encourage them. “Not all of us can do great things. But we can do small things with great love.” – Mother Teresa
    Such things are precious in God’s sight. Amen.

  9. greatmom55 says:

    Emily, search your heart every day. Try to genuinely know your child. See him for who he really is and let him be that person. Guide, sustain, advise and love. Try as best you can, from inside the fundamentalist bubble, to keep an open mind as you help him navigate life. I promise you, you won’t be sorry as you see him become the person God created him to be and not someone you forced him to be. Best to you and your little one.

    • GreatMom55:

      “Emily, search your heart every day…and let him be that person” – Gmom55

      I am fairly certain that Emily prefers to rely upon Scripture for Godly wisdom, rather than to rely upon a lovely, yet faltering heart.

      “Try as best you can, from inside the fundamentalist bubble, to keep an open mind as you help him navigate life.” – Gmom55

      What is this…a back-handed compliment? You are truly incorrigible! Truth is, you want Satan to have a whack at Emily’s baby boy as you did with your own. Tossing your children into the waves and letting nature take its course, is not good parenting – it’s reckless indifference.

  10. greatmom55 says:

    Haha. I really do get under your skin, don’t I? Don’t let it ruin your day. :):)

    • Boomslang says:

      “Haha. I really do get under your skin, don’t I?” ~ greatmom55

      Right? And I find it astonishing how you are still perceived as “pushing your opinions” onto the blog’s owner/author, when even she, as noted when she chimed in, seemed appreciative of the fact that some common ground was achieved by you and her, even thanking you for the encouragement. It is pretty clear to me that the blog’s owner/author doesn’t need a “pinch hitter”, and yet, she seems to have at least one. Funny, that.

  11. wairimuouma says:

    Your post made me cry because it is so true.

    Moses went through 80 years of gromming. Jacob was blessed at birth but there was that Esau drama. God’s biggest work seems insignificant at the time. What your doing is so important and as someone commented according to God’s standard you are doing a big job and He knows.

    I however wish you could write more. None the less I am sure God has grand plans.

  12. greatmom55 says:

    I believe anyone with a little common sense would realize that when I refer to letting your children “find their own way,” I obviously mean when they are older. I’m not advocating for letting toddlers run loose in the streets, people. Being deliberately obtuse seems to be a common thread with people posting on this site but hopefully there are others out there who realize that raising children is not a “one size fits all” process. Children are unique, precious individuals who should not and cannot be forced to fit YOUR mold. Does that mean “Satan gets a whack at them”? Only the narrowest of minds would assume that unless you’re a right-wing religious fanatic you’ve turned your children over to Satan. The point is you do your children a true disservice if you ignore their individuality and attempt to live vicariously through them. Thankfully I had already lived a happy, full life before I became a parent so didn’t need to live out my dreams through them, except my dream to raise happy, productive, responsible, spiritual, compassionate, loving adults. I only wish the same for you, Emily, and your little one. Blessed be.

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