The plump envelope sat on our kitchen counter taunting me. It’s shape and size set it apart from the bills and junk mail in the pile. I looked at it out of the corner of my eye, avoiding direct eye contact as if it was an old acquaintance I thought I recognized in public but wasn’t quite sure. Flipping through my mental rolodex of friends in relationships who could be announcing and engagement, I came up short with a sigh. The envelope was as I thought: another baby shower invitation.
Some days it feels like we live in a world of mamas. Many of friends in this little Colorado town are having babies. They’re babies and mamas I love. They’re babies I want to squeeze and hold and smell their sweet little baby heads. They’re mamas I want to hug and cook for and look into their eyes and tell them that they can absolutely do this. I love finding creative ways to form women’s ministry around mama schedules, helping find and sometimes create resources for them to be in the Word during nap time, and helping the dear mamas in my life find time to be with their husbands. I love bringing meals, sitting on the floor with the toddler so that mama can nurse the newborn, and kissing the sweet cheeks of my dear friends’ babes.
But when I return home – when I’m sitting in our little child-less apartment with my husband and dog at night – I sometimes feel as if my whole world was made for mamas. And I’m not one. Not today, at least. And I feel stuck in this limbo season of life in which I’m not really a newlywed, but I’m also not a mother.
Maybe you, too?
This post is for us. This post is for the not-yet mamas. For the women who, like me, hope to have children some day (though I know this isn’t the desire of every woman), but don’t today. Here are some truths that I need to massage into my heart today, and some hard truths I’ve been ignoring for some time.
1) Be honest with yourself and with others. It is very easy in this season of life and marriage to deceive yourself as you try to navigate this season. My own knee-jerk reaction when people ask me if we have kids or when we will have kids puts me in a defensive posture. I deflect with half-truths: “I don’t want kids” or “Kids just drive me nuts”. But the truer statement is that we’re just not ready for kids. To say that to someone else feels like emotionally undressing, but it is the truth. Practice telling the truth. To acquaintances, embrace the freedom of a simple, honest answer: “No, we don’t have kids.” In safe and close friendships, speak the tender truths of your heart: “I’m pretty afraid of being pregnant”, “I didn’t have a great relationship with my mom and it makes me worried I won’t be a good mother”, or “I scared that if we start trying I’ll find out we can’t get pregnant.” Tell the truth, both to yourself and to others.
2) Only God is unbound by time. Revel in the reality that God is the only one who operates outside of our time. We travel through time on one track – all of us. We cannot speed time up or slow it down; we are beings who are bound by time. But God sees the end, He sees the next chapter of your life, because He is unbound by time. This part of His character is His eternality, and it sets Him apart as Divine. Each time that you are made aware of this season of your life, make a discipline of remembering His character and celebrating this way that He is unlike us. Thank Him that He is God, and glory in His otherness.
3) Don’t spoil what you have now by wishing for what lies ahead. When I was single, I looked at all my friends who were dating and wished I was in their shoes. When Austin and I were dating, I watched friends get engaged and I envied them. When we were engaged … well, you get the picture. I am a restless person; one who is not easily content with where I am at in any given moment. I wish I learned this lesson earlier: when we are constantly pushing towards what is next, we miss the beauty of what is right in front of us. There were moments of our dating relationship that I missed because I thought being engaged would be so much better. I forgot that what was in front of me was once among the things I had hoped for. Personally, I’m not eagerly waiting for the season of life in which Austin and I will have kids; in many ways, I’m content. But I feel a little panic in my heart whenever I see a pregnant mother significantly younger than I am, and I would do well to thoroughly enjoy – and savor – this sweet season in which our life looks the way it does today.
4) Practice seeing God in the waiting. A wise mentor of mine once told me that on the other side of waiting there is always more waiting to be had. She was painfully right. Life is full of waiting. It seems that as soon as our waiting for a particular thing, person, or season comes to an end, we start waiting for something else. This past Christmas, I reflected on how we all seem to be waiting for something: healing, a relationship, redemption, welcome, or a child. Since waiting is a common theme in the human experience, we have the distinct opportunity to practice seeing God in our waiting. If you are eagerly waiting to be in a season of life in which God will bless you with children, let each twinge of waiting for the next season of life liturgically point you to God, and the ultimate Christian hope that He will come again. If we will always be waiting for something, let it remind you that all your waiting is a shadow of the big thing we’re waiting for: the coming of the Kingdom.
5) Lean into the mamas around you. Enjoy the babies, tickle the tummies, and kiss the cheeks. Enjoy watching and participating in the tribe of motherhood as much as possible. Use the unique freedom of this season – whether that freedom is financial, freedom of time, or freedom of schedule – to love on the mams in your life. Go to the showers, buy the baby gifts, celebrate the new lives that are being birthed all around you. Don’t let false lines of dichotomy be drawn between those with and without children. You don’t need an invitation into the circle. These are your sisters in Christ, your partners in the Gospel – embrace them, learn from them, disciple them, love them.
I am well aware that having children is not a guarantee. Many of us reading here will become mothers through adoption and foster care, some will pee on a stick and see two pink lines before they think they are ready and others with a sign of relief, and some of us will never have children. But whatever the next season of life holds for us, we have a responsibility and privilege of learning faithfulness in this one. We get to learn to be faithful with today, with today’s waiting, with today’s conversations. And we get to do it all under the watchful eye of our Father in heaven, the One who chose to save the world through the baby tucked inside a pregnant, teenage virgin girl. This God – this good, faithful, fatherly God – doesn’t love you for who you will be in the next season of life, but for who you are in union with His Son right now. In that truth, we wait and worship.