I've been a mom for 29 years. At that time in my life, I KNEW that was what I was supposed to do. Being a mom was my calling, my ministry, my life. The experiences of labor and delivery ... breastfeeding and diapers ... first tooth and first steps ... potty training ... play dates and kindergarten ... athletics ... driving cars ... dating ... missed curfews ... rebellion ... high school graduation -- all seem to be highlighted in my mind with my four children. I was a mom. This was just what I do. It was my life. And it was a life that I loved and cherished, that I enjoyed. Seriously, how can someone fall desperately in love with all four of her children?! But, I did.
Being a mom changed my life in so many ways. I truly learned to put someone before myself. I learned that being patient was a day-to-day lesson that I needed to constantly relearn. Other lessons I learned:
* Crayon marking on flat-paint walls don't come off without taking off paint.
* Speaking disrespectfully to your children produces children that speak disrespectfully to you.
* Children watch constantly. As a mom, I need to set the example in my home.
* Hide the vaseline from the kids or it will be on doorknobs, in hair, and on walls.
But above all, God taught me how to parent through His Word and His example, and I saw that even the best parents made mistakes and had imperfect children.
In 2010, my kids have all either married, graduated from college, or moved away from home. Now what?! For the first time in my life, I feel a little unsure. My identity was so wrapped up in my children. I'm a mom, for Pete's sake!! I never really looked ahead to when my job would basically be over. No longer am I in the "game" with my kids, but I'm on the sidelines as an observer. Hmmmm. It's not really what I had anticipated. And to be honest, it's definitely not what I would choose. I miss the days of baseball in the living room with imaginary bases ... of popping Barbie's head back on and being the hero ... of kissing away boo-boos ... of rocking sleeping babies.
This has been one of those topics that God and I discuss often as my children and I continue to grow older. Well, actually, it's more like my whining and crying until God gets my attention, and then the discussing can begin. God basically just listens to me, and occasionally He'll remind me of something. Some of the things that God has shared with me?
1) He's told me that being a mom was what I "did", not who I am. Instead, my identity is to be found in Him.
2) My job as a "coach" in my children's lives is basically over. I AM an observer at this point (unless they ask me for some guidance and advice, and how I love it when they do!). At this point, God is the coach, and I am on the sidelines. My job requirement at this point is to pray, pray, pray!! That's one job that will never quit.
3) My children were never mine in the first place. God gave them to me -- they were on "loan". My job was to teach them, train them, love them, and prepare them to enter the world without me. They need to stand on their own -- without me -- and lean on Christ. If they're doing that, then my job was one that was well done.
4) I have my wonderful husband. After all of these years of babies, toddlers, and teens, he still loves me and continues to enjoy being with me. I find that I love him more and more as the years go by. My "mom hat" might be on the shelf, but my "wife hat" still fits!
Even though I still sometimes question, "Now what?!", I know that God continues to have a plan for my life. I have to remember that I'm not just a wife ... or a mom ... those are both things that I DO, not WHO I AM. I'm Christ's and He's given me the privilege of ministering as a wife and a mother. Once again, it's just another day of Finding Me In Him.