Becoming a mother changed me into a different type of woman. I was one of those girls who felt like children were mysterious little creatures. Though people said I was good with them, children mystified me, causing me to feel uncertain. I didn’t know what to do with them. Not having much personal experience with them, I didn’t feel particularly maternal or at ease caring for them.

The family of my birth was small, and we lived a distance from younger cousins, so I had no daily interaction with babies, toddlers, or preschoolers. My mother’s friends had children. I liked to hold the babies, but I was annoyed when the older children got into my room and messed up my stuff. I was never quite sure how to relate to the little people left in my charge, though outwardly I appeared confident and fulfilled a babysitter’s duty. When they napped, I felt relieved.

family farm Jonnie Andersen via Compfight

But then I became pregnant with my first child, and I fell in love.

The depth of love I felt for this little person inside of me was unlike anything I’d ever experienced. Because I was seventeen and unmarried, I had to protect this little life from well-meaning but misguided people who urged me to abort my baby, the newly available option in the 1970s. I often stood alone. Ignoring and resisting those trying to move me the opposite direction, I made decisions that were best for my baby, disregarding the personal cost. The fierce and protective love I felt for my preborn infant propelled me to become truly selfless for the first time in my life.

During that first pregnancy and every pregnancy afterward, I read widely on child development beginning in the womb. I also studied nutrition that was best during pregnancy, types of childbirth, breastfeeding, and child nutrition. I needed to input this information, so I could choose what was best. I spent as much time as I could watching older, experienced mothers. I prepared for natural childbirth, because in the seventies a drug-free birth was best for the baby. Anything best for the baby!

Color Garden Shot Paul Collins via Compfight

After we were married, my young husband and I began attending church. This was how we wanted to raise a family. I had grown up in church, but he hadn’t; and now, we both wanted this for our family. Through the process of finding a church, he became a believer and follower of Christ, and I returned to my faith.

In our church, we were surrounded by couples with young children. Most were ten to twelve years older than we were, and we learned many essentials from them, a blessing, because it was rough starting out as teens. I continued my constant reading, and we took every parenting and marriage class our church offered. I wanted to understand my children and become the best mother possible.

Mothering produced a nurturing aspect to my personality. I am maternal. I’m a mother in my bones. I love my children to the very core of my soul. God brought much growth through the raising of our children. This was how He had chosen to transform me. He brings growth in ways unique to each of us, whether through singleness, marriage itself, motherhood by birth or adoption, or the inability to have children. For me, it was mothering.

Am I the perfect mother? Far from it! I’m still learning and growing decades in! I’ve blogged far more about my mothering calamities and mistakes than about this side of parenting.

Nutrition, Sanitation and Education Site Visit to Luang Prabang Province USAID Asia via Compfight

My children now range in age from thirty-eight to twenty-two. Their careers have scattered most of them far and wide. When I haven’t seen them for a while, I dream of them every night. Lately they’ve been small children in my dreams, and our house is crowded again with the play, conflicts, and messiness of a large happy family at home.

I’m glad we made room in our lives for children, for every one from the first to the last. We loved parenting them so much that we chose to have a large family. It was messy. For decades we continued taking those church classes. Many days were hard. I’ve lost track of the number of trips to the emergency room. But the blessings and joys far outweigh any challenges. Our children have brought enormous happiness and contentment into our lives, above and beyond any other human relationship or experience outside of salvation. They are our gifts from the Lord and to the world, our heritage.

How has motherhood transformed you? What have you learned?

Today is the birthday of the youngest. We thought we were done with our family when the Lord impressed in a miraculous way upon our hearts the desire to have another, and here she is, number six, twenty-two years old today! We’re so glad she’s ours! As with each one, we were thrilled when she joined our family and extremely blessed every day she lived with us before going on to college and adult life. Each child has been one of God’s greatest gifts to us.

IMG_2897Happy birthday, Sweetheart. You fill our hearts with joy, and we’re so grateful for you! You’re a treasure and a gift, and we’re SO VERY proud of you. Love you so much, Mom. ❤️❤️