Last month I experienced one of those weeks where mama-hood was a lot more exhausting than it was inspiring. My 16-month-old got Hand Foot and Mouth Disease (a mild case), which transferred more harshly to my body and manifested in painful physical sores. It was the first week of fall, and our calendar was running out of space with new toddler classes, play dates, workout sessions and a much anticipated moms night…all scratched out and replaced with lying nauseous on the floor while my son jumped on me and shoved books into my lap for hours. 

While housebound and feverish, I threw an epic pity party, hosted by the fact that moms don’t get sick days off like my 'lucky' working husband does. The discontent spread like a virus. My husband’s career accomplishments continue to be praised daily and compensated bi-monthly; my labor is unseen and unpaid. I am one of many, many 'good moms' out there, and there is nothing that makes my mothering special. Parenting is a selfish endeavor anyways; after all, no one forced me to further populate the earth with my offspring. Lies are easy to believe in loneliness. 

I turned to 1 Corinthians and was struck by Paul’s words, “What do you have that you did not receive?”

Is there nothing more humbling and true? With one sentence my vision was corrected, my heart examined. My mindset pivoted from an ill-perceived injustice to a reflection on what I really have: a husband who sacrifices his personal, social and family time to provide enough so that I can be our son's constant teacher. A little boy whose bright eyes and unbridled smile make the blood dance through my veins. A beautiful home in a coveted city filled with people with whom to share this life. Creative outlets that bring my soul joy. And I am not only filled with abounding gratefulness for every undeserved blessing, but through faith I acknowledge that each one was given...and thank the giver. For there is no earthly possession, no cherished friendship, no personal talent nor skill, no sacred family moment, no speck of goodness in my life that was not carefully placed there from heaven. Not even one sip of air I've drunk that was not poured into the sky just for me by the maker and sustain-er of all things. A truth for the masses and no less a truth for me. When I am approaching the second hour of folding laundry…Jesus sees. When I am reading ‘Goodnight Moon’ for the tenth time in a single day…He listens. When I lose patience and indulge in the luxury of self-pity…he forgives. The fragrance of the knowledge of Christ has filled our home with an aroma of peace, even when the work is banal and the days are unending. 

My family’s beliefs, rooted in evidence and watered by faith, have given us the authority to parent our children with a love beyond affectionate feeling. To raise up our babies to accept their divine value even when the world tells them that worth must be earned and peer-reviewed. To gift the generation to come with the heritage of a faithful marriage. To discipline and guide these delicate hearts and minds out of love, knowing even our precious children are bent to break just like us. 

The Lord says, “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart.” Today I will choose to live set apart from the woman the world wants me to be or says I have the right to be and instead pray for my happiness to be defined by a joyful obedience. I will not look for attention elsewhere, but I will be loyal to the one that God was faithful to give me. I will not ‘wing it’ and hope for the best, but I will search for wisdom. I will not settle for survival, but I will nourish my own desires and needs. I will not be blown away with the sands of lies but planted in good soil where truth and kindness grow. And when the pressure for perfect fruit mounts high upon my branches, I will remain grounded in His steadfast grace instead.

I am mother and with this title I am both connected under a vast sisterhood and made perfectly unique. And this is the great honor God has for us mothers - that we are daughter too. An identity that gives us all affirmation of individual worth and our eternal belonging as adopted children. A blessed assurance enough for me.

JOURNALIST: Lisa Leyda Petersen