There can be no doubt that becoming a mom to our three children has been the greatest adventure of my life. It has also been the hardest role of my life. I became a mom later in life; I had our oldest, Cosette, when I was 35. Cole followed 2 years later and then, surprise! our Corinne arrived a short 14 months later. So here I was, a woman who had worked only full-time since I graduated college 15 years earlier - now home with 3 children under the age of 3. I loved my children with all my heart and I was finally a mom. Those first three years seemed to happen so fast. I felt the whiplash to find myself in this new, wonderful, yet unknown stage of life.
To say I was overwhelmed is an understatement. My days transitioned from sitting in meetings with leaders to changing diapers and unheard-of amounts of laundry. Sleeping could no longer be taken for granted. My daily contact and conversations with adults became almost nonexistent. As I held my children each night and watched them grow, I was so in love and yet I often wondered if I was enough to raise these precious beings.
Was I enough to care and love them as they needed to be?
Was I patient enough?
Would they grow with strong sense of confidence?
Would I be able to shepherd them through discovering their uniqueness and giftedness as they begin finding their place in this world and more importantly God’s adventure for them?
Would they be able to see Jesus in my stumbling and imperfect ways of following Him?
I didn’t know. Being a mom, I discovered, was so…. daily. Days after days of meals and hugs. Nightly prayers, not knowing if they are listening to my words towards God as I prayed for their hearts and their futures. Daily prayers at mealtimes wanting to instill a heart of gratitude for our “daily bread”. Week after week in church in Sunday school listening to stories Moses, Zacchaeus, Jesus. Learning to sing worship songs with hand motions. Sitting exhausted in the service after breaking up squabble after squabble, wondering why my kids bickered the most on the way to church. Reading the Christmas story throughout the month of December at dinner hoping that they would not get caught up in the presents of Christmas and forget the Story of the Baby. Telling them through tears, “I’m sorry”, too many times to count when I messed up in my impatience or anger. Living daily as my kids hold up a mirror to myself and often what reflects back is a broken, desperately-needing-grace, imperfect mom. Daily. Every day.
Many years have flown by since those early days. My kids are teenagers now. They have their own opinions and thoughts on life, love, faith, and their world. They all stand taller than me and I’m reminded of what friends told me as I held them as babies. “These years will go very quickly”. And they have. I now find myself asking, did I do enough? Did all those imperfect attempts of being their mom, matter?
One of the first verses of promise I learned as a teenager was Luke 6:38.
“Give, and it will be given to you. They will pour into your lap a good measure—pressed down, shaken together, and running over. For by your standard of measure it will be measured to you in return.” (NASB)
I remember this verse teaching me that God was asking me to live a life of “givenness”. I was to live a life being daily poured out with love, compassion, and generosity. If I did, God promises to take my small efforts and multiply them for His good. What will return to me is the joy of seeing my one life used by God to be an instrument of His work here on earth.
As I consider my kids in their teen years, I am beginning to see the young fruits of what God did with this very fallible mom. I am beginning to see the young man and women they are becoming.
My oldest Cosette has a heart that drips with compassion and sensitivity. She has gone through many struggles and yet her heart remains tender and open. She is kind, hospitable, forgiving, and creative. Cosette stood and received Jesus’ invitation of love as a young teen.
Cole has been a leader and motivated by responsibility since he was a young boy. He helps his teammates. He loves to argue opinions and can be obstinate but he has remained very tender inside. He prayed to receive Jesus on a road trip in Wisconsin while we listened to a radio sermon by Billy Graham.
Corinne has a joy that’s undeniable. She is funny and a good friend. She freely prays for our family at meals and asks the important questions of faith. She’s open and works hard. She’s self-motivated and been called a quiet leader by her teacher. She wants to be baptized.
Those are just some of the promises of God already fulfilled in my kids’ lives. When I prayed over my stretched-out bellies when they were still in the womb, God has already answered so many prayers and then some. He has seen them through so much including a cross country move from Las Vegas to the rural small towns of North Dakota. He has sustained them and continues to help them flourish. I can only imagine what else God is going to do in and through their lives. I can rest in the truth that EVEN IF I am so much less of a mom then I want to be, God WILL fulfill His promises in their lives as they continue to seek and discover Him.
Even if I get it all wrong, His promise in my kids’ lives is secure.
And for that reason, I hope.
Mary Quillin is a city-girl-turned-country-girl in her new life in North Dakota. She has been married to her hubby for 16 years and has 3 wonderfully, different kids who have begun their teen years (and she would appreciate all the prayers as possible on that note). After many years in full time ministry, Mary is learning how to show up and daily discover the journey of being available for whatever Jesus leads her to. She spends her days trying to build a welcoming shabby chic home in the heartland of North Dakota while learning to write and run.