By Beth Foster
As mothers, we all remember it well — a time when we realized just how hard motherhood would be and just how much our lives had suddenly changed. Maybe you’re there right now — wondering if your life will ever feel “normal” again — if you’re ever going to feel as if you’re progressing through life rather than vigorously treading water to keep afloat.
Years ago, I remember having an infant of only a few months, and just yearning to get out of the house. I looked forward to Sunday when I could go to church, see adults, talk to someone who could actually converse rather than just cry. I remember feeling so defeated that my baby wouldn’t stay in the church nursery for any amount of time on Sunday morning. Inevitably, I would drop her off and be called back in 15 or 20 minutes later because of her crying.
One Sunday I had been called out of the service once again to get my little one from the nursery. I went to sit in the church lobby to watch the service on the monitors outside the sanctuary. A few minutes later, another mother with her young baby came and sat next to me. We exchanged pleasantries of, “How old is your baby?” and the like. After a moment or two I confided, “I am really hoping that she will be able to stay in the nursery soon. I really need an hour- just an hour a week.”
The other mother looked down and said, “You know, I recently said the same thing to my mom.” Then she gave me some of the best parenthood advice I have ever received. She said, “My mom told me that it is such a short season — all of it. This is a few months of her life when she needs you, and it will pass. Enjoy the season.”
I wasn’t expecting that reply. I had thought she was going to say that she needed a break too. I hadn’t thought about the fact that my baby, who was about three months old, wouldn’t always be three months old. Intellectually I knew that one day she would go to the church nursery, she would go to Sunday School or VBS or summer camp. One day. But today she needed me. That was the season we were in.
One of the more well-known Bible passages is Ecclesiastes 3:1-8, which speaks of many different seasons of life.
For everything there is a season, and a time for every purpose under heaven: a time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted; a time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up; a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance; a time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing; a time to seek, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away; a time to rend, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak; a time to love, and a time to hate; a time for war, and a time for peace.
When you’re in the season, it’s hard to remind ourselves that it really is just that- a season. While waking up with your baby in the night for six months can feel like an eternity, it’s not the first thing I think of when I remember my children’s infancy. I remember holding them, rocking them, going everywhere with them in tow. The season where you can’t sit through a church service, it is short. And while having time for yourself is important, just remember this is a season.
There will come a day when they don’t want you to make their lunch for them, or tie their shoes for them, or need you to stay up with them when they have the croup. And though I say this with such ease, I remind myself regularly of this.
While each season has its trials, remember that there are parts of that time that you will never have again. While the newborn season is challenging with exhaustion and the amount of time you’re confined to the house — it is also prime baby snuggling time! And while you might feel like you can never leave the house — that might be God’s way of ensuring that you don’t travel far so you can recover from childbirth. Similarly, each and every season will have its trials, but also its triumphs. In the midst of the trials, choose to reach for the triumphs.
All of that said, it’s not that I let my children color on the walls or bathe their stuffed animals in the sink because of this— I’ve just realized that those crayon strokes and soggy teddy bears won’t always be there. We will move on. One day I will be able to wake up at 10 a.m., get a book and read on the front porch without having to monitor the street lest a child run for it, and my house will always be clean— but that’s not today.
I am in this season, and God has reserved a time and purpose for it.