Matt and I were recently asked to complete a survey regarding our likes, dislikes, and general characteristics about ourselves. The survey was straightforward until we arrived at this:
“What are your hobbies?”
Well, huh. Hobbies. I remember those! Believe it or not, there was once an era in which I played sports, exercised daily, and frequently went out with friends. Those days were replaced years ago with my frantic efforts to balance kids and marriage and church and work, and in the process, any notion of hobbies other than chasing after three pairs of insanely quick little legs flew out the window.
As a mother of littles, not only do our hobbies rearrange, but it’s so easy to lose our identities in the very lives we’re raising. Not long ago, I was talking with a mom-friend who echoed the same thought that has been bouncing around in my head for some time now:
“Who even am I?”
I mean, I once knew who I was. Or at least I thought I did. (I consider myself a lifetime learner, y’all. Or maybe just a really, really slow learner. One of the two.) But in this season of long days that run into nights and repeat over and over again, it’s natural for my identity to be completely wrapped up in my role as a mother. Because, let’s be real. There is not a whole lot of time for anything else. We moms have the tendency to habitually put the needs of everyone else, namely our children, before our own. And somewhere in the process, we wind up forgetting who we even are.
One day these littles will be big. They will be able to pour their own milk and zip their own zippers and drive themselves around town (Jesus, help us all!). And then, who will I be?
A child of God. Daughter of the King. Chosen. Loved. Redeemed.
When this season of intense child-raising fades away, this all remains. Because that is my true identity. And you know what? It takes the pressure off. For if my identity is completely wrapped up in my title as “mom”, what happens when my kids fail me? Or when they leave home? Will my identity crumble? Will I fall into deep despair when those little lives in whom I placed my identity drive off to college one day?
God has been abundantly gracious in entrusting me and Matt with these three little lives. He has charged us to “train up a child in the way he should go” (Proverbs 22:6), and we do not take this charge lightly. And yet I must be aware of my tendency to make my kids the focus rather than God. Of how quickly I define myself by worldly- and even worthy– pursuits and roles rather than the God who gave and allowed the pursuits in the first place. I must remain wary of the way I’m prone to elevate my role as mother of three above my unchanging stance as child of God. Oh and how insidious this exchange can be.
To those of us who are just trying to do this parenting thing well, staking our identity only in our kids and our parenting may come naturally but can ultimately be destructive. Rather, I must intentionally look to the One who created these children and placed them in our care for my identity. When I have my life ordered properly- when I have Christ at the center of it all– everything falls into place. I can parent in the grace that flows from above rather than relying on my own strength and abilities. I’d rather rest in who He has declared me to be in Him and in His righteousness than what I have to bring to the table any day.