Dear young mamas, I can’t help but notice the tired in your eyes. And the way you have to be alert. Always. Watching where they go, what they pick up. And how you sometimes take a deep breath through your genuine, but half-hearted smile as you say Good in response to the usually rhetorical question How are you? And I can’t help but wonder if you wish, instead, to admit fatigue and a little loneliness. Or maybe that you’re disappointed your body doesn’t look the way it used to…and you wish you didn’t care as much as you do. Or maybe you wish you could share your frustrating moments of the week or confess your impatience with the little people who were just being…well..little. Or maybe you’d like to tell me that you’d give almost anything for one hour by yourself. Or I wonder if you’re curious if the argument you instigated with your husband over unmet expectations and under appreciation is totally normal.
I want to look straight into your young mama eyes with all the love I can muster up and say I hear you. I hear everything you’re not saying. And as my story ages with the years of my children, I confidently offer you hope. That the author of yours is faithful to refresh, transform, renew and redeem. And at different points of growth and maturity, you’ll look back with perspective and grace on who you were and who you’ve become.
I found this old photo strip recently. I remember the night. It was over 13 years ago and Mark and I had escaped the sweet clutches of our six month old little boy to enjoy a movie at the AMC Forum. I don’t remember what we saw, and I doubt we cared. We were just excited to be out. Together. No nursing. No crying. No disruptions. I look happy, and I was. But what that happy me didn’t know was that I would be pregnant again in just two more months. No slow start to motherhood. Just full immersion. Two babies in diapers…and while we’re at it, why don’t we start an adoption too? In just a few years of being married, we had three children (three and under), a large house to improve and maintain, and whole lot of immaturity to work through. There were some really wonderful days, and some really hard ones too.
I look into my own twenty something eyes in those pictures and want to tell her this:
The years really do pass quickly just like they say…even though it seems like the days may never end. And all that unproductive time you spent just sitting around holding your baby….it was totally fruitful. And all those nights you stayed up arguing and struggling to communicate with that guy next to you, it actually leads to intimacy and a deep rooted love and friendship. So keep talking. ‘Cause the sooner you drop your pouting, silent treatment tactic, things get better. And when you welcome that little dark, curly haired daughter into your arms and she doesn’t prefer you, it’s okay. She’ll adore you one day and the love will be totally and completely mutual.
You’re going to feel underappreciated for what you do, and sometimes you won’t be gracious about it. But God will take that place in your heart and make it dependent on Him. And you’ll discover that the most satisfying affirmation comes from the Father.
You’re going to loose a lot of sleep over the next decade. But don’t worry, you’ll rest well one day. Deep sleeps will return to you, and they’ll be just as wonderful as you think they will be!
And when your sister invites you over to her house for dessert to meet the new missionaries at church, you’ll say yes even though it’s not a good night. And that will change your life forever because that night sets you on a journey to Uganda, the place that will completely transform your heart. And when your family is ready to adopt again and you’re not – it’s okay, because the little boy meant for you isn’t born yet, but when he is God will prick your heart to yearn for him.
You will cry a lot, feel weak and get strong. You’ll sacrifice a lot and compromise greatly. You will fail and overcome in so many things. You won’t even recognize yourself when you’re me, right now, sitting in a house, with pigs, chickens and a red barn out back. Crazy, huh? And the parents you’ll tear away from in just a few years when you move across the ocean — they’re going to be your neighbors when you get back. So don’t fret too much about the distance.
Now…I know you won’t believe this, but one day you’ll be shopping for your children’s clothing at…Salvation Army! Gone will be those Gap shopping sprees you currently take with your sister, one stroller and a frozen coffee in your hand. Those are sweet times, though, so go ahead and love them.
Your days of breastfeeding, waking in the night, changing diapers and rocking babies will transform into moments of discerning the heart issues of those once babies, and having real conversations with them that feed your soul. You’ll miss the little days, but delight in the growing creations that you’ve helped shape. And it will be so hard to believe one day that you actually carried those babies inside you, cradled them in your arms and snuggled them the way you will tomorrow morning with your six month old. They get so big and some of them won’t hug you as often…and it will hurt your heart a little. So steal as many embraces as you can while they’re little and tuck right into you.
You’ll have all these decisions to make — small ones and big ones — and just know that God is in the beginning, middle and end of every choice. You can’t ever choose a direction where he isn’t on…but definitely listen for his leading, because the places he takes you are more satisfying and joyful than the ones you take yourself.
This date night your on with the one you love is just one moment in your life. And I know you think it’s just a normal, American life you’re living right now. But it’s not. It’s a holy one. And when you discover that — somewhere in a little village in Uganda, and in the embrace of a culture so different than yours, and in the eyes of your black son (you have a black son!!), and in the forgiveness of a God who sees all your ugly, and in your yeses of surrender, and in the witness and experience of heart transformations — your whole perspective on life will change. And the here and now is made valuable because of your hope for eternity.
So go ahead happy twenty something me. Enjoy your night tonight with your husband. Surrender to the unfolding story ahead of you. You’re gonna love it!