I was 21 when I had my first child. Ty and I were in college, and I went back to school a week after my c-section.
I was 23 when I had my second child. During her pregnancy, I was a mess. I had hyperemesis gravidarum. I am thankful my son survived on the cheese and crackers I threw on the table and the few minutes of parenting I could manage every day.
When my older two children were 3 and 1, their Daddy deployed for 2 years. We rarely saw him, and I learned the art of single-parenting (with the help of grandparents).
I was 27 when I had my third child. My older children didn’t need as much care since they were 6 and almost 4, so I could focus a lot of attention on the baby.
And then the “crazy years” began…
Whereas I had YEARS between my first 3 children, I had my next 3 in 3 years!
What you don’t see in the photo is that I actually had 4 in 4 years.
Emily is not in the photo – she came after the little guy in orange.
It was a crazy time of running after lots of littles, enduring what seemed like endless morning sickness, and never feeling like I could get ahead of the game.
And then there was Emily. Through her hospitalizations, I felt I could only be her parent. I had to leave my other children in the care of grandparents and friends. And when she died, I could barely put one foot in front of the other.
Fast forward several years to my 9th child, born a month before my 38th birthday. It was one of the healthiest pregnancies I’ve ever had, but following her birth, I became ill, both physically and mentally. I struggled through sleepless nights and irrational emotions. I was never sure what the day (or night) would bring.
I haven’t been the same mother all these years. When I had my first, I was selfish and impatient. By the time I had learned some patience, the Lord saw fit to bless me with more children than my hands (and lap) could hold. Through college and homeschooling, through countless moves and life changes, through births and even death, I mothered the best I could.
And I know beyond a doubt, I am exactly the right mother for each of these children…right where they were, right where they are.
“Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them.”
God chose each of my children, formed them, and gave them to me with their story already written. He knew precisely the mother I would be. He knew precisely the struggles and blessings to come, and He did not make a mistake by giving me Blake when I was in my early twenties and Aspen when I was in my late thirties. Blake needed that mom when he was little, and this mom now that he is big, just as his littlest sister needs me as the mom I am right now, and as we both grow older, I will continue to be exactly the mom she needs.
No, we are not perfect parents, but God is faithful as we seek Him. He fills in our gaps. We must simply be faithful and faith-filled.
This mothering is a humbling occupation. We are rarely sure we are doing it right, and most of the time, we are convinced we are most certainly doing it all wrong. But, we can trust that God has not left us here to figure it out on our own. We can trust that He knows our needs and our children’s needs. We can trust that we are exactly the mother our children need right now.