The Joy and Suffering of Being a Mother

The joy begins the moment you find new life growing inside you or receive the phone call that the adoption will occur.  At that moment, you know that your life will never be the same.  It is a joy that is felt all the way down in your toes and radiates out of your face.  As life grows inside of you, you feel trusted with a greater purpose and a knowing that this is bigger than you are.  

Without notice, the suffering begins the first time you hang your head over the toilet wondering how can such an exciting gift be causing such havoc within your body. Or you sit on pins and needles praying the birth mother will not change her mind and crush your hopes and dreams of mothering this child.  Whether it is pregnancy and labor or waiting for phone calls and court dates to bring our children into our arms, they seem to be the building blocks that prepare our hearts for what is to come.  

Being a mother is like no other experience.  It feels as though a pendulum swings back and forth between joy and suffering.  I don’t mean the kind of suffering that trials and failures bring, but the kind of suffering that feels like it could tear you apart.  

It is the joy of vulnerability as you let your heart open to this beautiful baby and each new stage of development brings a greater love than the one you already couldn’t explain.  It is visioning and calling forth the greatest you sense in your child while trusting yourself with such a great calling.  And It is beaming smile on your face in those special moments when you see your child thriving and offering beauty and life to the world.  

The suffering comes as you teach your child to follow their hearts and learn to use their gift of free will, and then they go in a direction other than you would like. Then your selfish desires to control and manipulate are exposed.  It is the anxiety that brings you to wring your hands as you get a front row seat to watch them fall because you know that life’s greatest lessons are learned in the doing rather than in the hearing. It is the pain of realizing you are opening your heart for the soul purpose of launching them into the world that seems full of everything you have worked so hard to protect them from.  It is the temptation of fear that wants to cripple you with the worse case scenario of what could happen.  

Then in some miraculous way, the joy and the suffering come together in a mixture of sheer excitement and aching as they leave your home and step into adulthood.  You get to choose to move from being their mother to being their friend as you cheer them on in their choices to pursue their dreams all the while hoping they don’t sense the somersaults your stomach is doing as you work through this exhilarating joy and this painful tearing away that seems to be occurring within you.

I may not speak for all mothers, but this has been a tearful writing as I offer my humble attempt at explaining what is happening inside of me for the second time as I sit on an airplane and fly 5000 miles away from our son who will be studying abroad.  It brings me back to the same emotions of two years ago, as I sat with my husband in a church pew and witnessed our daughter marry the love of her life all while knowing we would be moving 3000 miles away from her weeks later. In these moments, it has been an extraordinary joy as the parenting chapter comes to an end and all our hard worked has culminated into them choosing a life that they are excited and hopeful about.  It has been painful as we choose to allow that chapter to close and a new one to open as we stand a bit further behind them offering them our encouragement, support, and prayers as they fall and get back up, just as we have.

I do not know where you find yourself on the journey of motherhood, but please be encouraged that it is in the suffering that the joy is birthed.

Would you share with us today, a recent joyful moment in your mothering or one you sense is just around the corner?

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