Why we mother

E is two weeks old today. It’s been the longest, hardest two weeks of my life.

// I’ve cried many, many times. In front of my husband, my in-laws, friends, and total strangers. When we went to see the lactation consultants at the local nonprofit agency, I broke down when trying to explain our issues to the woman at the front desk. Poor C had to answer their questions while I tried to pull myself together.

// I’ve gotten frustrated with those same lactation consultants. With our doctor. With C. With E. And with myself.

// I’ve been angry and jealous of C for going back to work.

// I’ve worried myself sick over milk supply, pumping/feeding schedules, lack of sleep, and eventually getting back to work.

// I’ve tallied up everything I’ve missed out on over the past nine months, am missing out on now, and will miss out on in the future. And cried about it, of course.

Essentially, the past two weeks have been a rough time full of self-pity, frustration, and confusion. Breastfeeding is hard, you guys. Caring for a new baby is hard. Doing it all with the husband back at work, conflicting advice from multiple sources, and a total lack of sleep is really, really hard. I’ve asked myself over and over (and over) again: “Why do people do this?” Why in the world do we subject ourselves to the ordeal that is bearing, feeding, and raising children? (Aside from the whole perpetuating-the-species thing, of course.)

Then, while driving home from the lactation consultant on a bright, sunny day, a quote from a blog post I once read over on A Royal Daughter popped into my head. “This is kingdom work.” It was a completely random thought in the moment, but it was exactly what I needed.

The struggle, the sacrifice, the suffering… it’s all part of God’s greater plan. I imagine, had C’s mom given in to the same kind of selfish thoughts that have plagued me of late, what would my life look like? Without C, things would be… well, I don’t even want to think about it. Her kingdom work made our relationship, our entire future, possible. And that’s just its impact in my life—but C plays roles in the lives of many others every day. Without that period of kingdom work—the bearing, feeding, and raising of a child—the world would be missing out. And I know C’s mom would feel that her own life was missing something. There is treasure to be found in the struggle. Sure, God could accomplish his plans some other way. But C’s mother’s faithfulness to her kingdom work allows His plan to unfold in a most incredible way. For that, I am thankful.

The same is true for every mother and child. The struggle and sacrifice of parenting is a holy thing. We are called to mother our children, and that is something to not only be thankful for, but to cling to in every moment. No, it’s not easy. It’s not even necessarily pleasant at times. But it is a blessing. It is a long-term investment in ourselves, our families, and in God’s kingdom. It is holy, right, and beautiful. 

I really can’t find adequate words for this. Not like Amanda did, anyway. And the reminder that this all plays into a larger narrative hasn’t made it any less difficult. But it has made me feel less alone in the struggle. Because it’s not random or meaningless. It’s not just something to get through. It’s a holy calling. It’s God’s gift to me in this moment. It is something to be thankful for, to commit to, and to treasure.

So, thanks for the reminder, God. I needed it—I still need it. I will need it every day moving forward, for the rest of my life. This is kingdom work. 

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