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Tuesday
May072019

Motherhood: A Bumpy, Painful Road to Navigate

I've watched Julie Watson's life for several year. I saw her godly heart. Her commitment to good health and positive choices. Especially her choice, with her husband, to give three children a home where they can grow in every aspect of their lives. In this special Mother's Day UPGRADE, she shares her heart about that "mothering" journey, and offers positive principles for all of us who are mothers or who work with children.

“Motherhood.  Why didn’t anyone warn me how painful it can be!” Julie says. 

Painful? I (Dawn) thought at times, "excruciating!" Though I see now, on the other side of parenting, all the blessings that came our way, I still have memories of frustrating, trying days.

Julie continues . . .

Before becoming a mother at the late age of 45, I used to dread Mother’s Day! Year after year, I watched friends attend special Mother’s Day celebrations, receive sweet gifts made by tiny hands who revered the ground they walked on, and sip on sweet gestures from husbands who did their best to make the day special.

Each year that just reminded me that I still wasn’t a mother. My husband did his best to make my day fun, as a mom to several “fur kids.” 

But the pain was real. It hurt. And, I was not alone.

I found many women felt the same way. Those who, like me, couldn’t have children of their own, or had lost children, had pain-filled memories of their childhood, or a poor relationship with their mother. There were many reasons for the pain, but it was there. 

Fast forward 17 years!

I became a foster mom to three beautiful children.

Yet, Mother’s Day still did not feel “real” to me, because nothing is official with foster kids.

It would be another two Mother’s Days until I got my wish!

Mother’s Day 2016 was truly my first. Yes, I received those sweet little hand-made gifts, happy smiles, big hugs, and all the yummy goodness that comes with it... for about an hour.

Then, it went right back into the toils of war!

Parenthood is hard! Being a mom is HARD!

All those years dreaming of it, yet I only pictured the warm hugs, smiling faces, and Norman Rockwell moments that filled my head from one too many Hallmark movies.

I neglected to focus on the screaming tantrums, sibling rivalries, moments of sheer chaos, and the first time I was told, “I hate you,” by those same sweet, little darlings I dreamt of for years.

Motherhood is gritty and unpleasant at best most days. At least, it was for me for several years.  We are just starting to turn corners now, but every few days they remind me we haven’t really—at least not yet. 

Yes, we have lovely moments sprinkled throughout our days and weeks. I treasure those... truly!  We talk and laugh, dance and sing, watch movies, and share the love of Jesus. We’re a regular family just like anyone else. 

But my kids have a past. It isn’t pretty, easy, or loving.

It was filled with neglect, abuse, feeling unloved and unwanted for years. One can’t overcome that overnight. No. It takes years! 

And so, we wait, love them, and work through their issues together, one day at a time.  We know God turns beauty from ashes and joy from mourning (Isaiah 61:3)!

Whether you’re a biological, adopted, foster, grand, or step mother, please know there are proactive things you can do to reach your child, as well as ways to cling to God during this bumpy and painful road of motherhood.

1. Listen

Open your ears and heart and hear what your children are saying—not just with their mouths, but with their behaviors too. 

Children often can’t process their emotions because they don’t understand what they’re feeling or have experienced. Get down to eye level with them and let them talk to you.

They may need to punch a pillow because they don’t know how to handle their anger. It’s ok. They just want to be heard and acknowledged that their feelings are real and they matter.

Spiritual Counsel—Go to the Lord in prayer, and listen to Him.  He will speak to your heart and refresh your spirit. 

Be still, and know that I am God…” (Psalm 46:10). See also Jeremiah 31:25 and Isaiah 40:31.

2. Read their body language.

My kids always have tell-tale signs of their real feelings. I acknowledge what I’m seeing as well as what they say they’re feeling.

Then, we offer a safe space to talk about it and what it really means deep down. (For example:  they say, “I’m fine” or “I’m not mad,” yet their hands are balled up into fists.)

Spiritual Counsel—Use wisdom to decipher the truth and don’t let their fears control the outcome.

“But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all the truth” (John 16:13). Also, “…let the wise listen and add to their learning, and let the discerning get guidance…” (Proverbs 1:5).

3. Speak life and positivity into your child. 

They hear so much negativity all the time. Remind them of their godly gifts and talents, and that God has a perfect purpose and plan for their life!

Spiritual Counsel—Read the Word to guide you in raising your child in a godly way. The Bible is great resource for parental guidance. 

“Start children off on the way they should go, and even when they are old they will not turn from it” (Proverbs 22:6). See also Jeremiah 29:11.

Are you struggling today with being a mom? You are not alone. Reach out to other moms for help and support! We need to stick together, not compare or condemn one another.

As soon as we realize we are stronger together, we might just come out of this bumpy, painful journey alive and sane!

What can you do to reach out to the children in your care and speak to their deepest heart needs? Who is in your “mom support group”?

Julie Watson worked in women’s and children’s ministries for 10 years as a Development and Executive Director before becoming a stay-at-home mom to three beautiful children. In 2016, God created a beautiful forever family when she and her husband, Shawn, were able to legally adopt the children. Julie now helps others find hope and freedom from emotional eating & unhealthy habits as a C.O.P.E. Certified Health Coach.

Graphic adapted, courtesy of Theo Rivierenlaan at Pixabay.

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