If you were to ask me to sum up in one word one of the biggest lessons being Mom has taught me, I would say "mortification".
That word has a lot negative connotations but that's because most of us don't like the idea of being taken down a notch or two. Mortification gets a bad rap, though. Jesus himself "mortified" or "humbled" himself to become a man out of love for his Father and love for his Father's Creation. That makes mortification a good thing, if character is allowed to grow or show through it.
From the very beginning of our children coming into the world, I've learned more through mortification than ever before. Physically, emotionally and spiritually, the arrival of children has betrayed my weaknesses to me like nothing else in my life ever has.
Lots of people have talked about how they were experts in child-rearing until they had a child. It's true. It's easy (if you have un-mortified pride) to think you know everything about the whole process. Until you are actually faced with, say, your child throwing a tantrum in a grocery store. Then you have a choice: pretend nothing's wrong, get mad at the screamer, or be truthful.
I could say, "It's only a phase" or "children just do these things" or any one of a number of excuses. This would instantly let me off the hook and give my pride a chance to live another day.
I could take offense that my kid is being so embarrassing in public ("how dare she!") or pretend I'm a perfect parent and it's her fault she's screaming her head off in the vegetable aisle. My pride might be a little damaged on the surface because I'm embarrassed...but then I just have a hard heart toward my little noisemaker and pretend I should only be embarrassed by what she's doing, not by anything I've done.
Or I could be truthful and say, "This is not good. This isn't necessary. And this is my fault. She's only doing what I've taught her. Time to go back to the drawing board."
And so pride becomes mortified and there is a chance for learning to take place. Doesn't mean learning DOES, but at least there's a chance.
My bubble of impression that I was reasonably clear-sighted, knew what I was doing, and had a deep relationship with God has been burst by the arrival of our children. I'm sure illusions remain. My children are after all still very small. But at least if the bubble is burst there's a chance to build something real.
(And by the way, our two small children are about to become three sometime in May.)
Mortification is priceless.
Not pleasant, but priceless.
Because there is no one so blind as someone who thinks they can see. And parenthood is no place for blindness. Blindness in this arena is catastrophic.
More than anything else, someday I want my children to stand before God and have him say to them, "Well done!" If my pride isn't mortified, it doesn't exactly help them get there. My pride could very well keep them from getting there. They bear their own responsibilities before God, but parents can be a huge stumbling block and can teach things not easily undone. Especially if a parent is blind, hypocritical and arrogant (which might be three ways of saying the same thing).
That, by the way, is not to say that motherhood is all about philosophical and embarrassing moments. It's full of many hilarious, sweet and pleasant moments as well. Such as when Abigail leans over to me and says, "Mommy, why is your tummy getting so big? Are you sure there is a baby in there?" and then puts her face close to my stomach and says, "Baby? Are you really in there?" or when Susannah walks around saying "Where's Mom? Where's Mom?" until she finds me and shouts, "MOM!!!" joyfully.
But I expected those. I didn't expect the level of mortification I've experienced. My pride thought I'd learned things I'm learning I never learned. Patience. Consistency. Understanding. Joy. Courage. Selflessness. Generosity. Humility. And that's the short list.
And now I'd better stop writing and go teach Abigail why picking her nose is not the way she was made to look. Or else she's going to start doing it in the grocery store.
No one said it was a bad idea to recognize mortification is going to happen before it actually does.
Wife of Benjamin and mother to two wonderful little girls who are getting bigger every day. Enjoys writing down thoughts and discussions we are having within the family and sharing them with whoever is interested in reading.
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