My son Elliott turns two this month. Those who have read my columns from back in 2016 would know becoming a mother has been an unexpected journey for me. Don’t get me wrong: Elliott wasn’t a surprise, but the fact I wanted to be a mother was.
However, even as Elliott embarks on his impending journey towards the terrible twos, the trying threes, the full-on fours and then some, I still cannot deny this all-encompassing visceral love I have for him. Of course I miss the weekend sleep-ins, the flexibility of my time and not having to put up with incessant whining when Elliott’s in one of those moods. But I now get to enjoy early morning snuggles with a little human, I am more efficient, and carefree, infectious giggles often fill the house.
Let me make this clear: my life isn’t “richer” or “complete” because I have a child. It’s simply different. There are upsides and downsides to both states of being; it’s simply about finding the positives and focusing on them. Life takes on a slightly altered perspective when you become a mum and your priorities shift, but I will make no claims of being more fulfilled.
It has only been two short years and motherhood has been a surprising journey, but I am also grateful for the privilege of owning the arms Elliott buries himself in whenever he experiences an “Ow”, of hearing the excited exclamations of “Mummy!” when he spies me through the kitchen window as I’m arriving home, and of witnessing the many adorable and hilarious antics only a toddler is capable of.
And, just as I’m celebrating my two-year anniversary of being a mum (I mean, my son’s second birthday), this month also marks one year since I became involved full-time with Mums At The Table, a ministry intending to build a community—the proverbial village—for mums.
Motherhood is an interesting journey. You are one woman with one or more children, sharing with them your deep, personal values and beliefs within the supposed security of your home, but often it can also feel like every single decision you make as a mother is placed on stage, then critically analysed and torn apart by the rest of the world—even in a Christian context. Especially in a Christian context. It’s as if we’ve forgotten the Bible’s admonishment not to “let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen” (Ephesians 4:29).
If there’s one thing I’ve learned from being a mum and from being a part of the Mums At The Table community, it’s that mothers—whether or not they believe it to be their calling in life—are trying to do their very best. We’re struggling with the guilt of giving ourselves some “me” time even if we really need it, we’re struggling with trying to figure out the optimal way to raise our children in the face of conflicting information, and we’re struggling with how a single misstep might make us a social pariah, doomed to sing the “Baby shark doo doo doo” song alone, forever.
Mothers, like most other human beings—and like the children we’re trying to raise—seek validation, respect and just that little bit of gentle kindness. When the children are having a meltdown, when we are running late for yet another appointment or when we aren’t able to put a healthy, home-cooked meal on the dinner table, we’re not being irresponsible, we simply need understanding and maybe a little bit of help.