It was time for our ultrasound of our baby at 20 weeks. I remember our excitement about being able to see this baby. Even more excited as advancements in technology from when we were last expecting meant that we would be able to see the baby in 3d. No longer just the grainy black and white pictures, but a clear photo.
I lay in that darkened room, staring at the monitor catching glimpses of the baby as the scan took place. And then, across the screen, came his face. His gorgeous, chubby cheeked face at rest.
And in that moment before I had even held this baby in my arms I had fallen in love. Fallen in love with that little, adorable face.
It’s the same with God. Before we had uttered our first cry on this planet. Before we had taken our first breath, before we could declare our love to Him, God already knew us and already loved us. Unconditionally loved us! Nothing we do can ever take away the unconditional love that God has for us. Nothing will ever separate us from Him or from His grace. Nothing ever disqualifies us from the good future and plans that He has for us.
“You formed my innermost being, shaping my delicate inside and my intricate outside, and wove them all together in my mother’s womb. I thank you, God, for making me so mysteriously complex! Everything you do is marvellously breathtaking. It simply amazes me to think about it! How thoroughly you know me, Lord! You even formed every bone in my body when you created me in the secret place; carefully, skilfully shaping me from nothing to something. You saw who you created me to be before I became me! Before I’d ever seen the light of day, the number of days you planned for me were already recorded in your book. Every single moment you are thinking of me.” (Psalm 139:13-18)
(PS No we didn’t find out whether we were expecting a boy or a girl – I like surprises!)
Remember the “He loves me, He loves me not” game with a daisy that you’d do? Pulling a petal off one by one to see if it ended with “He loves’ me or “He loves me not.” It struck me today that it’s something we can also play with our lives. Maybe it’s the “Good mum, bad mum” version. The one when you’re a good mum because you got the kids off to school on time and without forgetting or losing anything (including your temper!) and then bad mum because it was a “lunch order” day. Good for doing the laundry, bad for not serving them enough vegetables at dinner.
Or perhaps for you, it’s the “Good Christian, bad Christian” version. You know, the one when you’re good because you started the day with your quiet time, or prayed with someone that day, or you’re star of the day because you shared your faith. But then you hit yourself with the “bad Christian” label because your mind wandered during your Pastor’s sermon, you know your attitude in life definitely leaves you lacking, or you can’t remember when you last prayed.
Playing this game is as futile as the daisy one. It doesn’t achieve anything but put you on a rollercoaster of emotions as to whether you are winning or succeeding at life – parenting , being a Christian etc. It keeps us tied to guilt. And really at the end of the day, it’s a guilt game. Sure you can have days when you feel like you’re nailing it, but you will also have days when the condemnation and guilt railroad you into depression and failure.
It runs contrary to God’s will for our lives, which is to see us reside in grace. A grace that forgives the failure, gives strength for the good and hope for the future. Grace which picks us up and let’s us keep going. Grace that doesn’t base love on performance. Grace which doesn’t give us a label, but says instead that you are loved, cherished and precious to God no matter how your day has gone. God is not a “He loves me, He loves me not” God. He loves you. Full stop!
“For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast. ” (Ephesians 2:8-9)
Motherhood is messy. It is filled with spills and stains and grubby marks. All precious, but still messy. I can’t count the number of times I’ve gone to go out (or gone out) and discovered the milk marks, snot marks even on my shoulder. I have repeatedly wiped the fingermarks and the occasional crayon mark off walls.
Last week I had an unusual messy moment. I sat in a salon chair as a hairdresser coloured and cut my hair, enjoying the pampering. Only to have him exclaim, “what happened here!!” as he pointed to a clump of hair only an inch or so long, compared to rest of my longer hair. Rather hard to explain how my 2 year old had managed to find some scissor, come up behind me and cut a fair amount of hair out before I even registered what was going on! The hairdresser told me he couldn’t fix or hide this now spiky patch in my recently straightened hair. Hair grows quickly eh?
Motherhood is messy in another way and that is in the unpredictability of it. Yes we have routines and timetables. But we can’t predict when the baby will cry (and for how long) or when just before leaving the house a nappy needs changing, or a child needs the toilet while you are on the motorway. Nor can we know the numbers of nights of broken sleep, or days when plans change due to a sick child and doctor visits. Or when tired children needing reassurance and comfort and interrupt dinner plans. Days when nothing on our lists gets achieved and we crumple exhausted into bed.
I am thankful that during these times, I have a good God. One who gives me grace to keep going through the broken nights, strength to get through hard days. I have a loving God who ministers to my mother heart when I worry about my children. I have a kind God who knows my heart when I whisper a prayer as I fall asleep reading the Bible. I have an encouraging God who speaks to me through my daily life. I have an amazing God who blessed me with my children and blesses me with strength, grace and wisdom to be a good mother.
He tends his flock like a shepherd:
He gathers the lambs in his arms
And carries them close to his heart;
He gently leads those that have young.
They say that Mothers of little boys are busy from son up to son down. As a mum to 3 boys, I’d have to say that rings true! One of the mottos that I live by is Keep Calm and Carry on. Meant for British citizens as a strategy in world war II, it has meaning for me as a mum.
It says in Psalms that “Weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning” This I have found to be true. No matter how bad a night it has been with my 2 year old he is a bundle of joy in the morning.
Charles Dickens began his novel a tale of 2 cities with this statement “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness…” And to me this has a ring of truth re motherhood. You laugh more, you cry more, you have the best of days, you can have the worst of days. You have days when you feel like you’re the wise adult and then you have days when you feel foolish.
A mum tweeted recently “Words you never want to hear when a child wakes you at 2.30am: “I’ve vomited. It’s everywhere.” Kind of sums it up.
I’ve been to the eye clinic to have a son prescribed glasses. I’ve had sleepless nights due to sick children. I’ve made jelly for visitors that hasn’t set, I’ve spent a morning at a mall wearing my jacket inside out. Driven off without the stoller (luckily baby was in the car). Left the garage door up all night.
But last year we celebrated a first birthday, we saw our eldest start school. I’ve watched my youngest learn to crawl, and heard him say mum. I’ve had a valentines day card from my oldest, my youngest comes running to give me spontaneous cuddles and my middle one makes me special creations from playdough.
It is the best of times!