The Woulda Coulda Shoulda of Motherhood
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A note from Janet: Today’s blog post is written by Cynthia Yanof. Cynthia and I work together for our website. She is a great author, a godly woman and a fun friend. You will enjoy reading her thoughts for Mother’s Day. Enjoy!

Here we go! It’s almost Mother’s Day, and we are about to get a good dose of Mother’s Day bombast. I’m talking about the well-intentioned, Hallmark-style sentiments that sometimes can leave us feeling a touch inadequate.

A few examples:

“God could not be everywhere, and therefore he made mothers.”(I can assure you that if God can’t get there, you best not rely on me to get there.)

“A mother’s love is the fuel that enables the normal human being to do the impossible.”(Weird, because I’m pretty sure my kids picking up their room is quite possible, yet my “fuel” seems to be failing.)

Here’s my favorite: “Mothers are like buttons. They hold everything together.” —Author Unknown

You know why this author is unknown? Because she doesn’t exist! Ain’t no mom out there feeling like she’s successfully holding everything together. And in the unlikely event there is such a mom, she doesn’t have one second to come up with quotes about buttons. And, by the way, after having a few kids, the buttons on our clothes are likely a bit taxed and barely holding things together anyway.

I’m guessing a man wrote it.

All kidding aside, being a mom is a great joy and privilege. Moms are significant, and we have a huge role to fill. But here’s the reality, from one mom to another: parenting is hard. Sometimes we are weighed down by this perceived standard of perfection, and I believe Satan (and maybe Hallmark) is all too happy to use the tactic of discouragement to make us feel like we’re not doing enough.

Whether you have kids at home you are still shepherding or your kids have left the nest and you are watching them maneuver through life, we all think about the what-ifs: if we could have done this, or would have considered that, or should have done whatever. We have to lose the woulda, coulda, and shouldas of parenting because that’s not the vernacular of faith-filled women who know that the Lord ultimately holds each of us—and our children—in his hands.

God never intended for us to be overwhelmed or to feel inadequate. A quick look at the moms of the Bible reminds us that God uses unique women, full of flaws, to fulfill his kingdom purpose in ways that go far beyond our abilities. Thank goodness!

So, where are you tempted to be discouraged on your motherhood journey?

  • Kids fight too much or aren’t as close as you hoped? Rebekah can relate.
  • Wondering if you waited too long to have kids and you’re out of touch? Sarah and Elizabeth hear you.
  • Made some bad choices in your past that you fear will hurt your kids? Bathsheba gets it.
  • Feeling too young and unqualified? Mary is right there with you.
  • Struggling with infertility? Hannah, Rebekah, and Rachel feel your pain.
  • Devastated after the loss of a child? Eve and Mary empathize.
  • Fear others may want to harm your children? Jochebed could talk for days.
  • Kids made bad choices and strayed from the Lord? Cue a whole lot of desert-wandering Israelites and their kids.

Yet, from these flawed moms (and, in most cases, flawed kids), we see God rise up kings (Solomon), prophets (Samuel and John the Baptist), patriarchs (Jacob and Isaac), leaders of God’s chosen people (Moses and Aaron), ancestors of Jesus (all of the above), and God’s very own Son, Jesus.

Moms, we can’t even fathom the great things the Lord can do when we are women who trust the truths of the Lord and hand our kids over to his plans. In this day and age of Pinterest, it’s very easy to feel like we aren’t doing enough if our kids aren’t eating organic, playing the cello, running 10Ks, and making the honor roll.

I love Jeremiah 6:16, where we are reminded to “stand by the roads, and look, and ask for the ancient paths, where the good way is; and walk in it, and find rest for your souls.”

The ancient paths surely did not involve the need for perfectionism because that would never bring rest for your soul. Let yourself off the hook and let’s follow the lead of our Bible moms who didn’t have all the fanciness but still very effectively produced kids the Lord could use.

Love your kids, enjoy them, pray for and with them often, and be rooted in the fact that we are not ultimately responsible for who they become and the decisions they make. We are raising people with free will who were created by the Lord for his great purposes—not ours.

This Mother’s Day, give yourself a gift by shutting out the woulda, coulda, and shouldas of parenting that lead to discouragement. You may not be able to see at the moment how it’s going to play out, but neither did most of the great moms of the Bible. Point your kids to the Lord and let him handle the rest.

Happy Mother’s Day!