Motherhood is hard. Really hard.
As I consider all my wife has done with and for our three children, I'm humbled by the sacrifices she has made day in and day out. Our children are delightful, but they are human, which means they are fallen in nature and finite in judgment. That means that motherhood is hard. Really hard.
Motherhood is under attack. "No fault" divorce, cohabitation, promiscuity, abortion-on-demand, and pornography have made women of childbearing age prey to a variety of evils and susceptible to the often malign choices of others. And simply being a mom can induce demeaning comments ("all you do is stay at home with your kids, right?") and hurtful expressions of ignorance ("nice you don't have to work, isn't it?").
In a perceptive article on how we have "overcomplicated" motherhood, Anna Mussmann notes that "Babies change people, and when women give up personal freedom for the sake of love, lose their sense of control over the physical world, and nurture their commitment to another human being (even when they do not feel like it), they are transformed into the kind of adult who can be a haven and an authority for children. They become wiser and better able to recognize cultural nonsense for what it is."
Some of that nonsense is contained in the usually unspoken but nonetheless real assumption that children are somehow secondary to professional achievement. To employ a sophisticated term of art, what bunk.
As Courtney Reissig writes in a beautiful piece on motherhood in Her.Meneutics, "Rather than a milestone to be carefully calculated, planned for, and earned, kids serve a different purpose altogether. Whether you stay home with them or not, children are not a status symbol, but a blessing. They aren't the cherry on top of a life plan, but part of what it means to live out our mandate as image-bearers. God's command to be fruitful and multiply is part of what it means to image him. We create and bear life. We work and we nurture. The ambient culture encourages creation, cultivation, and work, but often out of selfish ambition -- not to the praise of the God who created us."
Reissig continues that whenever a woman has a baby, celebration and honor by God's people are in order:
"Children also come to us -- biologically or through adoption -- at God's timing. Despite my desire to start a family earlier, I didn't give birth to my twins until I was 30. Even when we are open to having children, it doesn't always happen right away and sometimes, they don't come at all. But the church should be a place that welcomes expectant mothers regardless of what they have accomplished pre-pregnancy. Even if she never finishes her degree, lands a top client, or wins an Academy Award, bringing life into the world is a beautiful and God-honoring thing."
Is this attitude in us and in the churches we attend which also is in our Creator? If not, examine why -- and reconsider how better to recognize the women who so cherish life that they are willing both to give birth to and raise little ones.