Lately my husband and I have noticed something. We chat with friends about parenting, as parent friends tend to do, but some of the topics have changed. Often a friend with a two or three year old shares about tantrums and potty accidents, nap time battles, and disputes over toys. Instead of commiserating in the way we would have a few years ago, we are suddenly those people who are tempted to say wistful things like, “The days are long, but the years are short,” much to the annoyance of a friend who may have dragged a weeping toddler out of Target earlier that day.
You see, this year, our youngest child went to kindergarten. Next month we will officially have two teenagers in the house! When everyone goes out the door to school, there is no one left behind to spill milk or watch Disney Jr. We are no longer in the trenches of babies and toddlers. All of our children are school-aged, and I find myself in a new season. There is a saying that goes, “The moment a child is born, the mother is also born. She never existed before. The woman existed, but the mother, never. A mother is something absolutely new.” And so I wonder, if I was “born” as a mother more than 14 years ago, what have I grown into over those years? Everyone knows that it is very easy for a mother to lose track of who she is during the years “in the trenches.” Now I find myself looking around my empty house while everyone is at school and wondering, “Who am I?”
I can sort of recall who I was. For many years, I was the playdate mom. My children and I are extroverts, so hosting lots of playdates just made sense! Now my kids are all in school and I’ve gone back to work part-time. I don’t have the opportunity to host those playdates anymore, and I miss having my girlfriends and their children in my home all the time. I have been the theme-birthday-party mom, but the older my kids get, the less interested they are in theme birthday parties. In fact, the oldest two would probably prefer it if I simply made myself scarce when their friends come over to celebrate. And that hits on what is probably the biggest question mark for me personally: the less my children need me for every little thing, the more uncertain I feel about who I am supposed to be.
Who have you been? Maybe you were the cloth-diapering and baby-wearing mom, but all your kids are too old for either one now, and you feel a little sad about it. Maybe you were the soccer mom, but now your child has grown older and decided soccer isn’t really their thing. Maybe you were the homeschool mom, but you’ve realized that one or more of your kids is needing some outside influences for the next stage of their growth. Maybe you can’t even picture what it would it look like for you to stop homeschooling. Maybe you were the foster mom, advocating hard for your babies, but now that season is over. What if you were a great advocate, but now that you’ve secured the adoption you aren’t sure you will actually be a great adoptive mom? Maybe you’re sending your kids off to college one by one and starting to worry about who you might be with an empty nest, what you will do with your time in order to feel useful.
As I thought about these things, I realized that it can be so easy for moms to define ourselves by what we do. That’s when it dawned on me that the saying just isn’t true. I was not born the moment my first child was born. Like the Apostle Peter says, I was actually born according to great mercy; I was born to a living hope! It wasn’t the birth of my first child or any of the ways I raised her, (or the other children that came after her,) that declares who I am. It is through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead that I am named and identified.
My identity is not in what I do as a mom, my identity is in what Jesus has done for me as a Savior.
Seasons come and go, and it’s reasonable to feel a little bit adrift in times of transition, but we were never defined by our children in the first place. Whether or not you have a home birth, send your kids to private preschool, make pinterest-worthy crafts with them, never miss a baseball game, lead their boy scout troop, get them cello lessons, pack their lunches everyday until their 20, or don’t do any of those things...If you are in Christ, you were already born again to a living hope. You are already defined by the death and resurrection of Jesus, and not by what you do as a mom. You don’t have to worry about what the next season will be like, because you can look forward to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled and unfading.