Learning How to Be a Mother in Uncharted Territory


How do you succeed at motherhood when you've never seen it done well?

I always knew I wanted to be a mom; that motherhood would be part of my story.

I still remember the night my husband and I sat up late picking our three possible boy names and three possible girl names. It was six years before we would have children, but when two planner/decision makers get married, you stay up late deciding potential names for potential offspring.

It’s super romantic. Trust me.

I just knew I wanted to be a mom. And as a first generation Christian–with the ragged, raw wound from a Christ-less childhood full of loss and mistakes–I wanted to raise this man’s children in his family, with Christian grandparents, and great-grandparents, and uncles and aunts and cousins. In a long legacy of Jesus followers and just plain good folk, I wanted to bring our children into the mix.

Then, when I finally got pregnant, all of these unwanted emotions came rushing in. Worry. Fear. Insecurity. Panic. Pure Panic.

I know that mothers feel these emotions—we all worry. But Pregnancy dug at childhood wounds I’d prayed over and worked through and sought help with. The pain from those wounds came rushing back, reopening and leaving me vulnerable and exposed.

Pregnancy dug at childhood wounds I’d prayed over and worked through and sought help with.

And then there was the sheer terror of facing uncharted territory piled on top of the pain.

I knew how I wanted my motherhood story to end: I wanted decades of work to culminate into whole, healthy, life-loving, adult Jesus followers who happened to call me Mama.

But how would I get there when I hadn’t traveled this road before? When I didn’t know the way?

How would I do this motherhood thing when I hadn’t seen it done well?

I still struggle with this question. I feel it tug at old wounds after a rough (or even an average) day of mothering. I’m still in uncharted territory and I could really, monumentally, screw this up. Screw them up.

And I know how that feels, to be screwed up. I don’t want them to feel that, to be that.

Recently I’ve struggled with this more and more as my kids blossom into such very different, unexpected, challenging little people.

No one has raised these kids yet. No one has seen the way they should go. I panic again.

But then I remember that no one has charted this specific territory…except for God.

When I’m anxious (which is often), I hear him whisper, “My word is a lamp to your feet and a light to your path.”

He knows how motherhood is done. He sees me and knows the way. I only need to follow.

This simple truth is transforming my perspective. Yes, I don’t have a childhood full of the “right way” to do things…but maybe this makes me lucky. I’m not held captive by premade maps. Instead, I’m free to wholeheartedly throw myself into the unknown, led by Christ into this new parenting adventure.

Motherhood is always uncharted territory. For all of us. But God knows the way.

We only need to follow.

Written by: Marie Osborne

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