The Evolution of a Mother’s Role

“It was sorta okay.”

That may not sound like much of a sentence, but when as a mother you hear those four words exit the mouth of a child who has been in the midst of a struggle, they are good words. Good words indeed.

From a Tired Body to an Aching Heart

My boys used to be babies. You know, the kind that needed fed all the time and changed all the time. The kind that continually spit up on their clothes and in my hair. The kind that couldn’t verbalize what they wanted so they cried, or screamed or rocked back and forth with a vengeance (Rocking was the go-to stress reliever for a couple of my babies.)

That phase of life was physically exhausting. It kind of felt like I was living the movie Ground Hog Day sometimes. Every day a slight variation of the same thing. An unending cycle of the fatiguing madness of mothering babies and young children.

But those boys are not babies anymore. And mothering them is no longer physically exhausting. They can feed themselves. They can read. They remember to flush the toilet, and I don’t have to fight them to get into the shower. They can set the table, load the dishwasher, empty the garbage and mow the lawn. Two of them can even drive a car. Yikes!

Somewhere between the helpless baby stage and the responsible human stage, there was a definite shift in the type of exhaustion I experienced. Though my kids are much less physically demanding than they used to be, the motherly emotional exhaustion has amped up.

There are tough things I need to just watch them live through. All the while I want to rush right into the middle of that stressor in their lives and get rid of it, or maybe beat the tar out of it. At the very least I want to bandage every little boo-boo they receive in the process of learning that life is hard. But I don’t. I hold myself back and watch and teeter-totter between worry and prayer. Sometimes I even cry a little, wondering how a child is gonna get to the other side of an obstacle.

God Gently Leads

But God is good. And he has a soft spot for mamas. In Isaiah 40 he tells us that he gathers his lambs in his arms and carries them close to his heart gently leading those who have young. I love those words, and I love it when the truth of them is revealed in my life. When, after struggling to follow God’s lead by giving my boys space to work through some things on their own, I see the fruit of submitting my mama will to God’s will.

Which brings me to “It was sorta okay.”

One of my boys, who had been making his way through something pretty difficult, walked into the house and said of his day “It was sorta okay.” That made my heart happy. Not because that sentence means that life is peachy now but because those words told me, “Hey, mom. I’m working through this. I don’t like it, but I’ve found at least one small good thing to cling to. And because of that, I’m ‘sorta okay.’”

Such a simple little statement. But so good for my mom ears to hear.

These are the things that remind me that all the mom years of physical and emotional exhaustion are worth it. And that letting my kids grow up and experience hard stuff is okay. If we moms try to step in and solve our kids’ problems when we know it’s not our place to do so, we will never experience the beauty and depth of meaning in a simple phrase like

“It was sorta okay.”

Kim Harms

Kim Harms is a writer, speaker and regular contributor for Today’s Christian Woman. Her work has been published in a variety of national magazines and devotionals. A mom of three boys, she enjoys encouraging women to love their sons by supporting their God-given desire to be adventurous. Cliff jumping into Lake Superior? Go for it! Teach yourself to do backflips on the lawn? By all means. Kim had a degree in English: Literary Studies from Iowa State University and lives in Huxley, Iowa with her husband Corey and their ever-growing man-children. She is addicted to books and loves backpacking with her boys. Find her at kimharms.net and on twitter at @kimharmsboymom.

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