Missional Motherhood · Motherhood · Parenting · Women to Women Ministry

When Having Children Changes You

I have no idea how rapidly time’s elapsed, or how children seem to grow in a blink,  but I turned around this morning and saw three wide-smiling faces from the back of the car, chatting away as if they were the best of friends, eating crumbs off their fingers with the least of care in the world …and I am filled with a joy strange to describe, and I think…

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How does time dance on thin air?

How do I manage to run on errands endless some days, scramble a thousand different ways to make breakfasts, searched a hundred various methods to cook chicken, and fail to realise, that this too, is holy ground?

Benjamin Franklin coined the term “Time is Money”, and I too, have succumbed to economise these holy, irreplaceable moments into a tiny clock-face i can organise on my palm… 

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My eldest carried her tank of little hermit crabs, fingers dancing dirty in a pool of sand habitat,  longingly looking up to me, asking if we could just have, one little hermie date, just me and her

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My boy darted across the living room, shouting at the top of his lungs like nobody’s neighbour, lunged himself across my beautifully scattered cushions, waking this overtired Mum that even 3 cups of full-bodied coffees aren’t able to resurrect…

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I have to admit – i haven’t always felt good about having children, because most of the time, life is mainly about me...and what I want to do, who I want to be, what I want to accomplish – rather than the upside down of kingdom living – of how strength and fulfilment comes through loving those who live under my roof, giving when there is no payback, and serving without asking for a back massage…

How do I gain mastery over myself? We are a generation obsessed with time, a culture that prides in organisation…

We want to be master over time – thinking that by doing that we will somehow master life…wishing that there are more hours in a day, and that there are more of things we can cram, and pack, and more of us we can be, and do… 

Yet, for eternity to inhabit mortal hearts, worship must take the place of worry, and faith in the place of fear, for when we make it a habit to worship God in the little, will we experience the liberty from having to live it up in the temporary…

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A few months back this cheeky monkey turned five, and I came across this article about the beauty of NOT having children.

I sighed – I understand what was written, understand the pull and attraction of not having the inconveniences that children carry with them…after all, who cannot do with a little bit more ‘me time’, who would rebuff the idea of a little more personal freedom, a life of ‘greater fullfilment’?

I put cake and food together, welcomed guests and embraced friends, inwardly wondering how we equate having children to be bothersome and that a woman’s life is far too wasted behind kitchen counters – quietly exhaled and thought of the number of things I wish I had more time to do…worthy goals I wish I could pursue, if only…, but these, here below …?

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Too many children for the best of me? But since when do we attach identity to what media portrays as success, and think less and dismiss, for the betterment of me, these little years, these hard work to grow these benign seeds? 

If those little lives are really worth investing in, then society’s push towards personal and financial freedom needs to be weighed against Scripture’s pull towards the laying down of our lives for an abundance of harvests.

We often push ourselves –  to be the best we can be  – to be more than just – to live more remarkably, achieve more overwhelmingly, but isn’t our investment today in the home our cursor for a better tomorrow, our brokenness the embracing of what is truly eternal?

Maybe it’s more important that we learn to die to ourselves rather than strive to make a name for ourselves…

We who are enthralled by the glamourous, are often blinded by the truly delightful – the quiet, the little, the tiny sprout, the unseen…

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Somebody, please wake me up to the beauty of TODAY, open my blinders to the wonder that blossoms right before my very eyes…grace that flourish here at the front of my doorstep…

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Somehow in the busyness of daily living, make a way and teach me what is truly holy…teach me to seize these moments and to STOP rushing, worrying, hurrying, fearing, hurting, being unforgiving…God grant me the insight to enjoy the NOW…so that these mundane may be made magnificent and the daily, delightful and the ordinary, holy…

I am beginning to slowly understand what beauty lies behind the sacrifice of having children…and the joy that come through a thousand deaths…

At the party, we adults giggled silly seeing kids bury their dino masks and make face prints on the sand…

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We laughed out loud seeing kids chased their dads and babies being delirius over cakes…

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Because if I can get this right – that the highlights of life are not found in the traces of sporadic limelights…but in the curvatures of daily, messy, imperfect living, offered sacrificially on the altar of worship, to the God who transforms the thousands upon thousands of daily events and imprint them upon eyes that are watching us, lives that are dependent on us, hearts that are impressionable in our moulding… 

Then, having children has taught me to live in the today, live in it as the sweet spot of my life, fight against depressing pulls, and fill the void that wish to have more, be more, do more…

Most of all, having children is teaching me to fall on my knees and worship – to know that life is more than just about me, and to get the best out of life I have to go deeper down in me and higher up in Him – and the undeniable, unchanging fact that Christ offers me a strong anchor for my soul, no matter the season I am in.

Why do we have children again? I often forget and I have to ask myself that question often – I think it’s because having kids changes me…it forces me to look at life through eternity, and having an eternal perspective actually does set me free…

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I’ve got to figure a way to stay fully present, to learn gratitude, to make everyday count – these times are slipping away, kids growing up too fast and our ageing is inevitable…

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Somebody teach me to slow down and sing…, somebody hold my hand and do a holy pause on me, somebody stop me from rushing around like I have to be somewhere, do something, be someone…somebody slow me down, help me create a margin just to worship…make me live large and free, no matter where, no matter what…to carry through sick days with gratitude…to mix tiresome days with creativity... and to still have His insight to find divine purpose in those rough weeks with kids?

Not despising these little years…not discarding these benign seeds…not dismissing these early sprouts, knowing that every significant tomorrow begins with the infantiles of TODAY…

Teach me to learn joy everyday…dance in the rain…sing over the storm…

I got my husband to pen down what his thoughts are of having children. This is what he wrote:

“When I was a university student, I couldn’t wait until I was working. When I was single I looked forward to finding a girlfriend. When we were engaged I looked forward to marriage and when married looked forward to having kids.

When we were younger we attended a lot of weddings as our friends paired up and looked forward to a day when we wouldn’t be so busy on the weekends attending weddings. And now we have children, we have children’s birthday parties and look forward to a time when….

Wait a minute. This is where God speaks. It’s good to “look forward”, but there is a time and season for everything.

As I’ve grown older, I’ve learnt to pause in the middle of life and ask the Lord, “What are You doing today through my life… What is the purpose of today, in this glorious park on a cloudy autumn’s day, celebrating our cute and cheeky 5 year old’s birthday?”

There’s something so precious about today, as compared to tomorrow. Tomorrow may never come. Tomorrow, as it stands, never made any impact in people’s lives. Tomorrow has never brought salvation to a single soul. Tomorrow has never brought a smile to a child’s face. It is incapable of bringing life and light to a city.

And for all you advocates of living in tomorrow, don’t forget that today is actually yesterday’s tomorrow.

All those hopes we had yesterday, all those things we prayed for, were so that today could be shaped into the day that God had designed all along.

So today was a beautiful day. I got to know some of the parent’s from our son’s school, and got to run around the park playing chasey with the children. I lined up with the parents as we waited for the coffee van, ate the delicious food that had beautifully prepared and embraced the experience of my son’s one and only 5th birthday.

Sure, his sixth will be really special too, but that’ll be tomorrow…”

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