15 Jul 2013

When you’re not sure if you want to be mom today

To all the mothers, the wanna-be-moms, and the I’d-rather-climb-Kilimanjaro-than-become-a-mom-thank-you-very-much-women,

Sometimes on a Monday morning I think about you and how you might not have grown up thinking you wanted to be a mom.

You might have dodged clichés like barefoot and pregnant as wild as any schoolboy dodges bruises and humiliation in the helter skelter of dodge ball.

You might have prayed desperate whispers on your way to grad school for a future and a hope where your degree defines you and not your uterus. And with a pocket weighed down by student loans who could question your determination not to waste what $350 a month buys a brain?

You want what you’ve learned to do to outlast how long it took to learn it.

I know. I carry the same pocket change.

And now I also carry a baby on the other hip. My third.



I have all the bruises you can imagine that come with wrestling this life lived in the in between.

But I have not dodged the hard questions. I am not lost. Give me your hand, sister.

You will walk a thousand miles between this crib and this rocking chair before the sun comes up on a birthday cake with more than one candle on it. You will open the pages of a book – a friend that has made the long trek between your childhood and your womanhood with you – and discover that someone has practiced their lowercase letters in it.

Unexpected graffiti will show up everywhere.

Your walls, your clothes, your car, your carpet, and most painfully – your heart.

But there are no mistakes.

There are no accidents where life is concerned. Every beginning is sacred. Every beginning is good.

“In the beginning God created…”

Endlessly, hopefully, painstakingly He creates – waiting, willing, inviting us to join Him.

We thinkers.

We students.

We writers.

We poets.

We wanna be degree holders.

We leaders.

We women.

There is no book knowledge that can prepare you for the act of creation or how brave you will become.


There is nothing that can put into words the discipline your excellent mind is capable of when your body is faced with the seemingly impossible math of delivering a human being.

There is no frame for the pieces of your brain you will lose through the toddler years.

“But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong.” 1 Corninthians 1:27.

Mortal words cannot capture the majesty of co-creating life with Christ. It is humble, yes, and messy and hard and will have you waking up one day wondering what happened to your eyes.

But it is also an anthem. A thousand, thousand voices raised together across the centuries in the wild chorus of motherhood that soars over all you thought you would be and transforms you into all that Christ believes you can become.

The stretching doesn’t end after the first nine months.

Nor does the joy.

And then you wake up one morning with barely room to roll over in a bed that’s taken in strays overnight and a small, tulip mouth exhales into your face. The day is still a whisper and suddenly your body can’t contain the hugeness of your Spirit.

Cupped in a tired mattress with someone snoring on the other side, you will live the cliché of the priceless moment and it won’t feel cliché at all.

And when the baby cries and you get up and swing her to your hip and catch a glimpse of yourself in the mirror, it will all be there — the who you were as well as the who you’re becoming.

And I promise, it will be very good.


{ Leave a Comment }
  1. 1

    I love this. However, I wasn’t a driven grad student. In fact, I never even finished my Bachelor’s degree. I went to bible school and wanted nothing more than to be a young mom, in ministry and have 7 kids by the time I was 30. The only problem is that wasn’t God’s plan for me. I didn’t even meet and marry my husband until we were 28, and we had our first baby right before my 32nd birthday. After my kids were born, I resented being a mom. I still have days that I wish I had been more driven and focused on anything but being a mom. Your posts are so encouraging, and I can relate, though my story is a little different. Love that you are used by God for us mom’s!

  2. 2

    Loved you post, Lisa-Jo. “…catch a glimpse of yourself in the mirror, it will all be there – the who you are as well as the who you’re becoming.” Such a profound reality in your words.

    I love motherhood. Mine are long grown and gone. But in this season, I am still a mother. Now grandmother, called Mimi.

    I never want to take the journey for granted. I have. Probably will again. I’m human. But I want to breathe in the whole package as it is today. Look into the mirror and see “it is all there.”

    Thank you. I feel a peace washing over me. Joy flooding my spirit. Contentment. It’s all good.

    Blessings ~Debra

  3. 3

    Yes, yes, yes, Lisa-Jo! This was me. I never even thought about being a mom when I was growing up–I’m not even sure why that is. I have a wonderful mother who was a good example to me, but I also had a family that pushed me in every way. I got that graduate degree, as did my husband, and when it came time to have kids it felt more like something we “should do” rather than something we really wanted to do.

    Praise God for His divine mercy! In every way, He has surprised me with the blessing–true blessing!–of being a mom to my three daughters. And those three? They all dream of being a mom some day, and I am so glad for that. He has redeemed my selfish attitudes into something of beauty in the eyes of my three.

    And, He didn’t leave me there. God knew I needed something a little more. He provided me with the intellectual outlet I needed in amazing and surprising ways. Blessings upon blessings! My life would have been so small if I had realized MY dreams–dreams that did not necessarily include children in them.

  4. 4

    So beautiful Lisa-Jo. “Wrestling the life lived in the in between…” Oh, how I get it! It helps me to think there will always be somewhat of a wrestle…just when I think I’m finally getting to the place of true rest & surrender! And yes, the one who I was and the one I am becoming are together, and it is good. Thank-you for this!

  5. 5

    Thank you for saying out loud what i am afraid to. You’ve had other posts like this and every one assures me just a little more that im not alone. My mom worked all while i was growing up, leaving at 4am every morning and loving her job and leaving the pig tails and matching socks to my dad who had no clue. And here i am at home with all these beautiful kiddos and no clue of my own. I was trained and brought to be a career mama but i decided to stay home and some days i think i must be nuts because i’m ruining them… and sometimes i feel like super woman. But i can say that here. And no one makes me feel like i should turn tail back to the 9-5 world here. Thanks for this and for all the comments, each one brings a little more healing and teaches me to have a little more grace with myself…

  6. 7

    When a hammer hits a piano string, the complementary keys all the vibrate together in agreement. My heart is vibrating… <3

  7. 8

    Today these words are what my soul needed to hear. I am pregnant with my third and sick as a dog in my first trimester of carrying this little babe. Some moments of every day I am saying “I can’t do this” or ” I don’t want to do this” or sometimes even “it would be okay if this didn’t work out” oh and my heart just aches to remember at all times that this baby is precious and that the JOY will be multiplies, but sometimes I forget. My husband and I just started a business that is life to me and now it waits…waiting for the sickness to pass and get me out of bed, waiting for my time to be able to be devoted to inspiring people, waiting for more time to be mine in a day, but really those are simple requestes and so shortsighted. He is waiting for me to lean into Him and say “Thank you” and “while I wait I will still praise you for the blessings you have given me”. So as I look into my little boys eyes and anticipate one more set of deep blues that will melt my heart even when it’s firey I will be here attempting to just say thank you for all I am becoming in the process. Thank you for your words today and most days even when i don’t comment. blessings There surely is a “great cloud of witnesses” that we are able to run with as mothers!

  8. 9

    I have wrestled for our entire three year marriage on whether or not to have children. We have felt like it’s something we should do instead of something we really want. In just three short weeks, on my 30 birthday, we are taking the biggest leap of faith in our lives and stopping all birth control. We are excited and terrified all at once. These words today have been a huge encouragement to me, as are most of your posts. Thank you for being honest and allowing people like me to feel at home and normal.

    • 10

      Becky, we did the same thing: took a deep breath and stopped birth control. What a tumultuous time of “terricitement” (our word for terrified and excitement). Here’s what we realized pretty soon: we had spent all those years making list of “pros and cons” about having kids, but at the end of the day we realized God says children are a BLESSING. God has said they are in the “pro” column, and we could trust Him on that. And as Lisa-Jo so beautifully said in this post: He is right. Every blessing to you, sister, as you and your hubby step out into your brave new world. God BLESS you (and I mean that in the bestest, fullest, richest sense of that word!)

      • 11

        Thank you. Thank you so much for this. We have felt so alone in this journey – like there was something wrong with us for not automatically wanting children. We are both very analytical, practical, logical people, so this leap of faith is huge for us. We are both Christians and very active in our church, and we know that children are a blessing from the Lord. We are eager to experience that side of it for ourselves. Thank you for your response. Blessings to you as well.

        • 12

          You are not alone, Becky. Not at all. It’s a hard decision, and sometimes I think we have TOO much control over it. (At least, that’s what I thought when I was going through the same thing.) But you can be sure that God will not leave you alone in this and the blessings will be greater than you ever imagined. :)

    • 13

      Exact same thing here! I’m 30 this year, and we had our fourth in february and we aren’t going back on birth control and we aren’t looking back – but I showed up to motherhood terrified of kids and not really *liking* them. I love them now, but I still get overwhelmed with them very easily. Here’s to a bunch of kids and being 72 with no regrets, right?! Even if we aren’t those cute ladies who just adore kids, they are still blessings to us…
      I think we need a support group for this somewhere :) Somewhere we can talk about the hard days without anyone saying, ‘well stop having kids already you idiot’.
      God takes care of us and loves us even when we struggle with His ways.
      Man, I wanna high five you right now – we can do it!

  9. 14

    Yes…”the stretching doesn’t end after the first nine months.” I have been stretched six times to co-create 7 blessings. I can attest that the stretching doesn’t end after the birth of a little one, sometimes I think it is truly just beginning! Oh, that this stretching would produce a better woman more fit for the master’s use.

    Lisa-Jo, thank you for always leaving your heart on these pages!

  10. 15

    I love 1 Corinthians 1:27 in this context: it is SO true! the foolish things of this world DO shame the wise. Motherhood is a daily lesson in “the last shall be first and the first shall be last”, and you are right – it IS very good.
    Thank you for your continual ministry of encouragement, Lisa-Jo.

  11. 16

    I love reading your posts, even though I’m now in middle age where my children are all grown up! I wish I would have had this kind of encouragement when I was raising my own as a stay-at-home, homeschooling mom. I forwarded your post to my daughter (mother of a beautiful 20 month old) and my daughter-in-law (17 weeks pregnant with her first) and I hope they sign up to receive your kind and encouraging words. I’m now on the “other side” thoroughly enjoying grandmotherhood!!!! Oh, it is every bit as wonderful as everyone told me it would be! May God richly bless you and you bless others.

  12. 17

    The unexpected graffiti everywhere made me laugh. It’s all over my house b/c my 3 y/o thinks she’s the next Picasso. The artwork’s everywhere too b/c they get out the masking tape and hang it anywhere there’s a bare wall.

  13. 18

    “the who you were as well as the who you’re becoming.”

    These are the days for me when the reflection in the mirror grows dim, where past and future feel somehow lost in the fog of NOW and I wonder what remains. Posted about a similar topic yesterday.

  14. 19
    Melanie says:

    You just made my cry with this. I’m awed at your capability to put those feelings in words. So very true. So familiar. Thank you so much for this.

  15. 20
    AineMistig says:

    When I shared this on facebook, I wrote:
    “This was so awesome and perfect for all the moms like me who think, “What about that college education?”
    Just perfectly validating, encouraging, and beautiful.”

    It’s like you’re hanging out in my brain, but cleaning all the cobwebs and letting unexpected sunshine in. It’s wonderful.

    Also, how much would it cost to have you hang out in my kitchen as my personal guru? ;)

    Hope you’re having a great day chica. Here we made Thunder Cupcakes, after spending the afternoon at a Paint-Your-Own-Pottery place. And it was a really good day.

    And none of my college education prepare me for that. :)

  16. 21

    Beautiful words. I am in a different phase of mothering because my kids are grown, but my heart remains the same, and I still carry those kids on my hip even though I don’t. But this mother’s heart continues to grow and make room for more, because before I know it I will be loving a grandchild with a fierce love, and the mothering instincts, are even now, growing, changing and allowing me to make room to “mother” my aging parents. The cycle of life. We are all going there.

  17. 22

    I thought I was the only or who did that math! 4 years of college + 2 years of graduate school = 7 years of full time work before I can quit to have kids! Funny, the formulas we try to fit our lives in to! When all we really have to do is follow the rhythm of the song our creator is singing over us. Trying to do better at that now!

  18. 23

    Hi Lisa-Jo,
    I was crying when I was reading this (stupid mom-hormones!). I have three daughters and I am grateful for every moment I can spend with them. I am convinced you can regret anything, except for having a child when you look him in the eye. Thanks.

  19. 24

    Awesome!! As a never-want-to-be-a-mom person who became a oh-my-goodness-I- am-a-mom person I totally get this.

  20. 25
    Mallory Pickering says:

    Thank you. I find that I struggle with my identity a lot since having my first born six months ago. I love your section entitled “rabid fear of parenting” because that’s so what I feel. Thank you for making me feel less alone today.

  21. 26

    Amen:) Love your site!

  22. 27

    Finally getting to this today… and all I can say is **SIGH** You bless mightily friend – it is holy work you do with your arms wrapped around babes and your heart wrapped in Him… holy work.

  23. 28
    Robyn Chilcoat says:

    I just found your blog, and I have to say I find your work moving. You bring tears to my eyes because I can relate to every post and you offer a fresh perspective on life. Thanks for making us moms feel better! You rock!

  24. 29

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