The Tension of Motherhood: Parenting vs Passions

In seventh grade, I wanted to be a live-action news reporter. An F-5 tornado swept through a nearby town, and I stayed glued to the television for the next few days. I became enamored by the guys on the field standing in the aftermath of such a beast. They demonstrated stoicism in the midst of turmoil. They kept their cool while the people around them lost their minds over their lost homes.

As I studied the art of live journalism, it seemed to me that a really good journalist couldn’t be tied down with a house full of children. I decided I would choose the career path of an award-winning reporter instead of a motherhood. It seems like a good trade to my seventh-grade self.

By the time I graduated from high school, I made an 180° turn. I felt called to be a wife and mother. I had ambitions for college, but I chose a career that would allow me to be home when children came on the scene. Career became secondary to raising children to love and honor God.

That was twenty years and three kids ago. I am completely sure of that calling I felt at eighteen. But I struggle with the execution. The tension between motherhood and my personal passions is strong. It ties the muscles in my neck in knots and creates a fragility in me that I do not like.

 

Friday Five Smiles

On the one hand, I am very fulfilled being the mother of my three kids. I enjoy the special moments like awards day when we can both be proud of their achievements. I also hold tight to the treasures found in the mundane. Chatter at the dinner table and lining up children’s books on the library counter are lovely moments. My happy place is curled up with them under a warm blanket as we watch old episodes of 7th Heaven.

But parenting is hard. Unlike the news reporters I idolized as a pre-teen, I never feel like I keep my cool in the midst of the madness around me. I certainly don’t feel stoic. The work is never done. There is always one more load of laundry, one more fight to break up, and one more dinner to cook. The memories of the last twelve years and the thought of sixteen more years of parenting make me feel tired. And then there is the fear that I am messing it all up and creating little monsters.

When I work as an occupational therapist, I get things finished. I have a list of patients and I know exactly what is expected of me. I can be strong for my patients, offering hope for recovery. I feel a sense of accomplishment when people get better and go home to their families. And I get a paycheck.

When I write, I am able to process through thoughts and emotions until they make sense. It helps me find my calm in the chaos. Writing is in black and white. I can see it and feel its effects.

Spiritual and social blessings are both wrapped up in leading a small group. It feels like true kingdom work to share scripture and facilitate conversation about what we read. The support found in a small group makes the hours of preparation worthwhile. I always leave our group time revived.

All of those things are good things. They feed my soul, give me purpose, and pay the bills. But if I am trying to get down to the basics of what really matters in this life, it is not the work I do with the sick. It is not the words I write. It’s not even the lessons I teach from the Bible.

Anyone who welcomes a little child like this on my behalf welcomes me, and anyone who welcomes me welcomes not only me but also my Father who sent me (Mark 9:37, NLT).

What matters most is my calling to raise children to love and honor God. I can store up retirement savings, author books, and lead hundreds of women in Bible study, but if I do not do this one thing well, I have not lived out my calling.

goals when busy

Practically, this means living with-in a tight budget so I don’t have to work much. It means embracing this season of sometimes writing and full-time parenting. It means prioritizing the spiritual training of my children over the spiritual training of my sisters in Christ. It means unplugging from the distractions and plugging into their lives. It means dying to self and living for the sake of someone else.

Isn’t that the life Christ called us to live?

These days of training, loving, and disciplining are hard. It is never done. We won’t see the results for years, maybe even decades. And, for goodness sakes, there is never a paycheck. I imagine I will always feel that tension between my passions and parenting. But I can get back to the basics of my calling by remembering my eighteen-year-old self—naive and called, the place where faith begins.

The Tension of Motherhood: Parenting vs Passions

 

Photo credit: moritz320 via Pixabay.

Sharing at #livefree Thursday (thanks for the writing prompt “collecting people not things,” Suzie!), Intentional Tuesday, Purposeful Faith, Sue Detweiler’s #LifeGivingLinkup and Holley Gerth’s #coffeeforyourheart.

15 Comments

  1. Great post Kelly. I have struggled with this too over the years. You are right though, when it comes down to it all that really matters is that we are raising our kiddos to love and honor God.

  2. “What matters most is my calling to raise children to love and honor God. I can store up retirement savings, author books, and lead hundreds of women in Bible study, but if I do not do this one thing well, I have not lived out my calling.” Such a great reminder! Thank you! Visiting from #intentional Tuesday!

  3. Though my call looks different than yours, Kelly, or even what I thought it would be, there is a dying to self than comes when we follow Him. I pray I honor God in all I do. Thank you for sharing. : )

  4. I love how you’re keeping it real here, Kelly. “I imagine I will always feel that tension between my passions and parenting.” I felt that too while my kids were home. And now I feel it between my passions and whatever other responsibilities I have at the moment. I guess it’s something we live with, knowing that we want to make godly choices. The most beautiful thing is when our passions and responsibilities combine to be one and the same. I wish that happened all the time. 🙂

    • “The most beautiful thing is when our passions and responsibilities combine to be one and the same.” Yes! I think this is a piece of God giving us the desires of our heart. As we draw near to Him, His desires become our desires, too.

  5. I’m nodding along!! I can’t imagine the tension not being present!!

  6. I too struggle with this tension! Parenting for the Win!! Thanks for this, I needed it.

  7. Calling must be on a lot of minds these days, Kelly, as that’s what I wrote about yesterday and a friend pointed me to Sarah Bessey’s recent article featured in Christianity Today that’s on, yep, calling! These are hard words you shared, but important and true: “It means dying to self and living for the sake of someone else.” That is the Christian walk of following Christ who calls us to follow. Great post. Stopping by from Holley’s.

  8. Spot on post for this momma! Thank you, Kelly!

  9. Wow! I love how you are so real about your struggle. I am a stay at home mom but sometimes get tired the mundane everyday things. But motherhood is about preparing for the future, the future generations through my little one. Thank you so much for this reminder. Visiting from coffee for your heart # 102

  10. Raising our children is a calling of the highest order! Looking back (my children have been out of the home for 12 years now) I realize how quickly those years flew by. Enjoy them to the fullest and know that eventually you will have more time (and money) for the other pursuits that God calls you to.
    Blessings to you dear one,
    Patti

  11. Kelly, this is something I continue to struggle with. I know God has called me to raise my 5 kids- He gave them to me. I also know He’s called me to write. I conversed with Him about this struggle and asked Him specifically what I really should be doing in this moment of my life. His direction was so very clear: Honor your husband, Raise your kids, Write your blog. As much as the words were what I needed to hear, it was more about the order. It was such confirmation for me where my priorities belong. I’m so glad you shared this today. It’s nice to know we aren’t the only ones struggling! Linking up with you at #LiveFree Thursday.

  12. I love this! And blessings to you and your beautiful children! You have followed through with your path and are blessing your family…. in oh so many ways!

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