*Disclaimer: this article is intended for new stay-at-home millennial mothers, working mothers whose families are dependent on their support are heroes who we admire and deeply appreciate.
Psalms 127:3 says: “Children are a gift from the Lord; they are a reward from Him.” We often hear this verse quoted during church events where new-born babies are dedicated. For the young parents just beginning to embark on this journey, it is a blessed and encouraging contemplation, that their little baby is a gift from the Creator. The days and years of early parenthood are sprinkled with the incense of hope and love, mingled with a deep sense of accountability. During the service, you gaze upon this well-dressed couple, crowned with the nobility and strength of their youth, the collective well wishes for the future felt by all, and their precious little human cradled in their midst as the physical manifestation of the love they share. What a sight! You cannot but have the most promising thoughts of confidence that these parents will surely honor this divine responsibility to the best of their ability.
However, parents today are facing a tide of temptation and confusion that is swiftly challenging the most virtuous of familial aspirations. Will these imperative and holy responsibilities still hold their ground amidst the cultural shifts of our modern society? A society that aims to alter the very nucleus of the family circle, namely, the mother.
1. Your phone will always be with you, your child’s 1 year old face won’t.
When my son was born, I was amazed by this little human. I was capturing every single moment with my iPhone. His first bath, first smiles, first taste of solid food, first words, his first few steps, it’s all documented and saved. Literally thousands of pictures and hundreds of short clips of his every move. He just turned 3 this month, he’s no longer a baby, and barely a toddler. That went by, fast. Our devices can be such a blessing, but they can also be the one thing that gets in the way of us truly experiencing our children and the little time we have them as dependent infants. When I look back at my photos, I see so many little faces that I’ll never see again in real life. The regret I think many millennials will experience is that they spent too much time on their devices trying to hold on to their children through them, or so we convinced ourselves. As the tech savvy generation, it’s second nature to us, but it is tremendously distracting to the still, quiet space of unadulterated motherhood bonding.
With the birth of my second child this year I’ve found ways to lift this pressure to document every moment. If it was only capturing memories that would be half the problem, the issue is the constancy of the device in hand which results in falling easy prey to the black holes of endless scrolling. I am not advocating for not capturing moments or not using our smart devices (I certainly still do!) but I would encourage a sense of mindfulness and responsibility with its use. This is a highly stimulating tool, and it sharply contrasts the observance of the slow-paced developmental process, which can lead a stay-at-home mother to an area of heavy discontent. There is a wholesomeness in minimalism during infancy, for both mother and child. Instead of mindlessly scrolling, shooting, and uploading throughout the day, plan a time where the device is set aside, placed in a faraway room, or in a closet, and you have uninterrupted, cherished time with your little ones without the intrusion of such a stimulating object in your midst. Ecclesiastes 3:11 says “He has made everything beautiful in its time”. Let’s try not to miss out on the beauty of this time!
2. Your ego will not appreciate you stepping into motherhood, find a way to manage it
Do not underestimate this. If you’re a stay-at-home mom, aside from your children and husband, the truth is, no one is expecting much else from you. The only thing making us feel like the whole world is watching or cares what we do or how we do it is our own ego. The ego is determined to create a space where you are at the center, needing desperately to be recognized and affirmed. In motherhood, especially those first 2-3 years after having a baby, your ego takes a tremendous blow, and it doesn’t like it, and it will let you know. There are times you can almost physically feel the pain of a hurt ego. You’re exhausted from months of poor sleep, your body is still readjusting to having created a little human, you’re flustered every time you check your Instagram and watch the perfectly curated lives of complete strangers competing for your attention, you haven’t showered for days, and your toddler is throwing his 4th tantrum of the morning. What an overwhelming challenge for tired mothers to volunteer exposing themselves to such unrealistic standards! Then you slave over a hot stove to cook homemade meals, you change diapers, faithfully follow through with the time-outs, read the bedtime stories, do loads, and loads of laundry, kiss the booboos, comfort your husband who’s stressed and work, and do it all again, and again, day in and day out. There is no rewarding check at the end of the month or pat on the back from your co-workers for keeping everyone fed, cleaned, loved, and cared for. It’s just you, the walls, and your ego, giving you another round of sabotaging thoughts before you collapse for the night. It is brutal, and depression is not far.
The best piece of advice I would give a millennial mother who is pregnant and about to give birth is, get your ego in check, fast. If you need to read a self-help book, do it, if you need to go to a seminar, do it, if you need prayer, do it. Ultimately it will take work, but if you tackle it sooner than later it will help you better manage what will come. Entering motherhood is a beautiful and sacred storm, but like every storm, it will pass, as swiftly as it came, taking with it the faces of your precious little ones, leaving the small hands, big eyes, and precious rolls in the form of memories behind. As sweet as it is to look back at, you will not be able to touch and kiss them again in the same way you so easily could when you were in the eye of that storm.
3. Your husband and babies don’t need you to cook organic food, make loads of money, or look pretty, they just need you to be kind.
“She opens her mouth with wisdom, and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue” Proverbs 31:26. As millennials, there’s a facade we feel we have to live up to be “good moms.” You know, we need to look like we have it all together. Get the beach body back in less than 6-months after birth, have the pantry and every closet perfectly organized and color coded, rave about not including any processed ingredients in the kid’s food, rid the house of detergents containing sulfates, all while having a thriving business in the background. I mean, talk about pressure! This kind of pressure can create stress, irritability, anxiety, and in many cases, unkindness. But this is not what God or anyone else expects of us. Our kindness is what a family needs more than anything. Our patience, love, self-lessness, and peace of mind are the nurturing predispositions that the Lord designed would be as water to the delicate leaves of the family vine. Do not allow our feministic influenced society make you believe that building a business is more important. This is not to say you should not strive to accomplish great things and have aspiring goals, you most definitely should, but not at the expense of exercising kindness towards your family, and especially towards yourself.
There’s a saying that goes like this “People will forget what you did, people will forget what you said, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” Your money, your looks, and your cooking is not what your children really need or will remember you for, they will remember you because your kindness made them feel truly loved, and that love would play an immeasurable roll in giving them a glimpse of the unconditional love of their Redeemer. Proverbs 31:30 “Charm is deceptive, and beauty does not last; but a woman who fears the LORD will be greatly praised.”