Empowerment through Motherhood
After giving birth to Lucy I felt really weak and sick. My old clothes didn’t fit me and I had new scars and I was even paler than usual, which is really saying something. I didn’t mind too much for a while as I was falling in love hard and fast, so that seemed to distract me, but every once in a while I would catch a glimpse of myself and not really recognize who I saw. It wasn’t about how I looked, though. Yes, my body looked different, but it was about how I felt. I didn’t feel strong or healthy anymore.
So, I concluded that I ought to start working on my fitness. A journey which began out of my motivation to lose the dreaded “baby weight,” and return to general feelings of sexiness. I ran and did my PiYo dvds and it was HARD and it SUCKED. At the time I really felt I was chasing a number on the scale, but now I can see that I was really chasing a feeling that I’d lost. I wanted to feel strong. I wanted to feel healthy. I wanted to feel empowered. I remember crying on the treadmill once I got a taste of that feeling again for the first time in years.
The thing is, though, as powerful as my exercise metaphor was to me, I didn’t need it to be strong again.
I had accepted a lie that becoming a mom had made me weak, and giving to another person was weighing me down.The Lord has started to open my eyes to a truth, that our culture outright rejects—Motherhood is empowering. We are almost conditioned to believe the opposite. It seems like everywhere I look there are weary moms on TV talking about how they gave up their lives to change diapers, or another joke about how fun and independence is sabotaged by children. Is this how the Lord sees our children? Is this how he sees our jobs as mothers? It’s so easy to be swayed by the general consensus that motherhood is oppressive and it steals from you. This not God’s truth on motherhood.
While they are admirable aspirations and personally motivating, empowerment through motherhood is not found on the treadmill, or by squeezing into your skinny jeans, or by any other personal accomplishments you can achieve alongside of raising your children. It’s found in the job description itself…
A home. A family. A legacy. You will forever be synonymous, in the minds of your children, with the way clean sheets feel on beds, with bed time prayer and familiar songs hummed softly in their ears at night, with Easter baskets and Christmas trees, with the spaghetti sauce recipe your mom made, and now you make, with those canned cinnamon rolls you make on their birthday, with popsicles and the sprinkler in the backyard in mid-July, with the words “be patient and kind” and “obey right away” rolling around and around in their heads. You are warm towels out of the dryer and spontaneous leaps in the water. You are family movie nights with a bowl of popcorn in the middle. You are raspberries on chubby tummies, and ticking little toes, and the “bunny ears” shoe tying technique. You are everything you want them to remember and experience because this is your family and you are actively and daily creating the culture and environment of it. You are making magic, memories, and mistakes, and they are all yours. You’re a sanctuary maker, a homemaker, and whether you like that term or not, you’re doing it. You’re creating a home, and so much more.
You GIVE LIFE
To your babies. Pregnant mamas, I don’t know what your body has accomplished before this. It may have run marathons, or done cross fit, or contorted into crazy yoga positions, but nothing quite compares to what it’s doing right now. It is sustaining and creating life. It is fostering a nurturing environment for a living being. It is strong enough to do this incredible job. Your body has been turned into a home.
I remember sneering at the mirror, and cringing at the scale, and I wish I would have looked instead at the beauty and the power in what my body was undertaking.
You LAY DOWN
Your life. And here’s where the deception comes in, because laying down your life is not particularly fun, but this is the exact fire where we can find ourselves refined. God did not give you a burden to crush you; He gave you an occasion to rise to. Every time you feel like you just can’t any more, and you find the strength for just one. more. time. When you have woken up throughout the night for months on end to nurse your baby, or your feel like you don’t have it in you to maintain your composure after your toddler throws their food off the high chair at every meal, or hits you, or runs away from you. When you feel you simply cannot negotiate another nap battle, another blowout diaper, another accident, another tantrum, but you do. You do it, because you have to and because this overwhelming love compels you to rise to this occasion. This is when and where you lay yourself down, and you discover an internal, God-given strength you had no idea you possessed. This is when women become warriors for our babies.
And when we (daily) fail, we are refined in that too. We lay ourselves down again in the process of humbling and apologizing and all the strength that it takes to fail and humble and grow.
You are not a mindless laundry folder. You are thoughtfully and lovingly creating a family culture and legacy.
You are not just “preggers” and counting down the days. You are already carrying and nurturing a life in your strong and capable body.
You are not a diaper changing, toddler door mat. You are on the battlefield of parenthood, emulating Christ in the way you lay down your comforts and your preferences to raise a human.
Reject this idea that if you are to feel strong and powerful again, it must be outside of the context of your motherhood. Be bold in your purpose and mother in your strength.
You don’t have to cower in quiet discontentment, embracing that your life is characterized by oppressive self-sacrifice. You can flex all your mama muscles in the broad daylight, knowing that you’re rising to the most epic occasion that ever been asked of you, you badass.