May 052016 3 Responses

The Sorrow Only a Mother Knows

I remember laughing at Jenny. In the months leading up to the birth of our first child, she was stressed. She doubted herself in a very deep way. “I’m not sure I’m going to be able to love like I should,” she kept repeating. Her expectations of herself were high. Having been raised by a great mother, Jenny rightly understood a mother’s love. Yet as she looked into her own heart, she wasn’t sure that love was there.

Compassionately, I tried to listen, but I knew her fear was unnecessary. The love would come. I never doubted my wife’s ability to love. Not only had I experienced her love, but love is one of the two great guarantees of motherhood. (See: Motherhood Is Not the Highest Calling)

Motherhood has two certainties. One is loudly promised and greatly anticipated. The other is a hidden reality only known as it’s experienced. Both are certain to be defining aspects of motherhood

A Mother Will Love

A mother will love her children. What Jenny doubted about herself, she firmly believed about every other woman. Unless a woman suffers deep psychological wounds, she will love her child. That maternal instinct will be a force like she has never experienced before.

Few things in life compare to the love of a mother. It is fierce. A mother’s love often needs restraint. She can get so lost in her love that she loses perspective. Her feeling of love can actually prevent her from acting in the most loving way to her child. (See: 5 Signs He Doesn’t Love You)

The certainty of a mother’s love is what makes it so tragic when that love is missing. When addictions rob a mother of her ability to love, a void is left in the child’s life which cannot be replaced.

It’s no accident the statement I repeatedly heard from my wife before birth–“I’m not sure it’s in me”–was never spoken again after the birth of our first child. A mother is guaranteed that she will love.

A Mother Will Lose

While the love of a mother is widely known, the other guarantee of motherhood is a secret. It’s a hidden wound which every mother experiences, but few discuss. While most soon-to-be mothers never consider this aspect of motherhood, it doesn’t take long for them to experience it.

If you are going to love, you are going to lose. The baby which owns your heart with her first cry will also create sorrows which run deeper than you could ever imagine. It’s unavoidable.

Sorrow is such a part of motherhood that even the good moments create pain. Every mother wants their child to develop properly so they can enter school, but then they weep as they leave their child at his little desk. It’s the expectation that a child will find love of their own, but on a regular basis I watch the sorrow in a mother’s eye as she watches her baby girl say “I do.”

Loss is a guaranteed aspect of motherhood, in part, because the natural process is for a child to become an adult. They are delivered into a mother’s arms, but slowly that child begins to pry his way out of those protective arms to live his own life. The process is certain to hurt. (See: An Ever Changing Grief)

While even the good things of life will cause a mother pain, the sinfulness of her child, herself, and this world will add to her sorrow. Foolish choices by children–no matter what the age–causes a mother pain. She hurts for their consequences, feels partially responsible for their mistakes, and can directly suffer from their bad decisions. No mother will be free from the pain directly caused by a child.

If you are going to love, you are going to lose.

The Love Is Worth the Loss

The loss of a mother can be so great that some might be tempted to protect their hearts in an attempt to avoid the hurt. It’s an understandable reaction, but it doesn’t work. When we avoid love in hopes of bypassing loss, we still experience pain.

While we should always try to minimize the pain–by modeling good behavior, making good choices, encouraging our children to choose wisely–we must recognize that not every hurt can (or should) be avoided. (See: How to Be a Super Mom)

Instead of trying to avoid the loss, mothers should embrace it as an unavoidable aspect of their lives. With love will come loss. They should mourn every sorrow, cry every tear, and find healthy community in which they process through their grief. New mothers should be encouraged to know the pain they feel is not abnormal. Moms should be quick to share in one another’s pain without playing a game of one-upsmanship.

If you have been a mom for more than a week, you already know the truth–every mom will love and every mom will lose. While both are guaranteed, the latter is to be endured so the former can be lived and enjoyed.

3 Responses to The Sorrow Only a Mother Knows
  1. […] Whatever the issue, marriage will expose that vulnerability. And the exposure will hurt. It will cre... kevinathompson.com/what-makes-marriage-hard
  2. Karen Sharp Reply

    Brilliantly and thoughtfully stated. The wrenching truth in fact only increases the love. The fact that God gave mothers this tremendous ability to assimilate and absorb the pain is miraculous. There is also a special inherent gift of forgiveness and forgetfulness that we’ve been given. Great inspired read.

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