The Tenth Letter: You Are Not My Whole Life

IMG_2483 Dear Daughters,

Part of me wants to be—someday—one of those older moms in my church who is able to say that being a mom was the most rewarding, amazing, hardest, joyful thing I’ve ever done.

Someone with perspective who can encourage young mothers to cherish the moments when the children are young because the time goes by so quickly, or, more sacramentally, to encourage them to see beauty in the mundane, to remember that we really are being shaped and formed by those repetitive seemingly unimportant loads of laundry and bath times and buckling and unbuckling the carseats ad nauseum, because we will blink and they will be teenagers and teenagers are so hard and babies are so easy and…

And the truth is, I hate hearing those messages. I resent them. As a mom. As a woman of God.

For one thing, I don’t want to cherish these days. I want them to be a season that will come to an end, and I don’t really want to find beauty and peace here. I want to be discontented because I don’t want to forget that I have gifts and a calling to serve the world—and not just your world.

I love you, my girls, but I don’t want you to grow up thinking I exist for you. Because I don’t. I exist for God. I exist because of God.

When I was pregnant the first time around, an acquaintance from church asked me what my biggest worry was as I faced motherhood. I thought about it for awhile and finally said that I was afraid you would swallow up my life, afraid my entire life would revolve around you, and that there would be no “me” left.

This acquaintance responded—presumably trying to encourage me—that being a mom means your life revolves around your kids. That’s what it is, and that’s how it should be.

I’m sorry, girls, but my life doesn’t revolve around you—it revolves around Kingdom work. You are part of that work, you are, sweet ones, but you are not all of that work.

I want you to know that you are loved, girls, but I also want you to know that you are not my whole life.

Maybe every mother feels like this, I don’t know. But what I do know is that when I point-blank told a friend of mine recently—a friend I hadn’t seen in awhile, a fellow mom in the trenches of the everyday chaos that is raising toddlers—that I kind of resent this whole mom thing, that often there is no joy for me here in the nitty-gritty of diapers and laundry and messy houses, do you know what she said?

She said she was thankful I said it out loud.

Actually, I believe she first said, “I can’t believe you said that out loud.” And then she said she was grateful, because we moms feel like we can’t admit these things.

Well, nobody, except those writers who then go on miraculously to find the sacred in this mess of legos and crumbs and naps that never fit the schedule and croup and the double ear infections. I admire that. I read those blogs. And I find them encouraging.

But here’s the thing: I don’t see sacred, girls. Not most days.

Most days, I see survival.

And I want to flee.

The truth is that if I felt about a career the way I feel about being a mom day in and day out, I’d have quit a long time ago. But I’m dealing with human beings here, as beautiful and wonderful and frustrating as you are, and of course I wouldn’t quit. Never.


Still. At some point every day, I want to flee.

I don’t mean in a metaphorical sense—I’m serious. At some point every day, I don’t want to be a mom anymore. I don’t want to change the seventeenth diaper, kiss the booboo, run for the tissue as snot drips down your chin. But somebody has to do it, and that somebody is me. In this season. This mind-numbing and life-sucking and just-not-fun season.

These are important things to say out loud.

Sure, there is much I will miss about these days of mothering young children. I will miss the hot baby skin against my neck as I rock you to sleep when you’re fighting a fever. I will miss your dimpled butt cheeks in the bathtub. I will miss the imagination of an almost-three-year-old transforming our couches into rocketships or boats or airplanes, the Frankenstein-stride of an almost-one-year-old learning to walk.

But, truth be told, I will not miss how it feels to live through these mind-numbing days. And I will not miss having company in the bathroom.


Your Momma