I was taken aback by the question from a friend: “Is motherhood everything you thought it would be?” I sipped my coffee and muttered, “I don’t know. I can’t say I’ve thought about it much.” It was true. I hadn’t thought about it. I was too busy surviving it. What were my expectations of motherhood? To survive the day and avoid damaging my family members in irreparable ways. Does that count as an expectation?
When I was first married, motherhood, like children, was a matter of course. Becoming a mother was simply going to happen. I don’t recall being particularly concerned about the change or even questioning what it would mean. But then, it didn’t “just happen.” What I had envisioned as an overnight transformation took three years.
Despite that initial time to process, things picked up quickly. When I finally held my oldest son in my arms, I was so engrossed that there was no time for contemplation. Motherhood was overwhelming me, and the last thing I had time to do was think about it. My family moved several times, two more children arrived, and life progressed on as it usually does—always busier and busier. Before I knew it, I was firmly planted in survival mode—a place I suspect many mothers come to know well.
Is survival all we can ask for as mothers? For a season, possibly. Some days I am still there. Other days, though, I am making time to contemplate and examine. I have found that a little bit of prayer time each day makes a huge difference between surviving and thriving.
I used to find prayer time intimidating and even irritating. People would recommend it, and I would scoff inwardly. There are a million obstacles between me and prayer time—noise, time, interruptions, sleeplessness, etc. Those obstacles are still there each day, but I have revised my idea of prayer time. I am no longer envisioning half an hour of uninterrupted silent contemplation. That really is impossible for me at this time. However, I may get five minutes of silence. I may get ten to fifteen minutes to delve into Scripture or a spiritual work—with a child on my lap most likely—but my children have responded well to the limits of “Mommy’s prayer time,” provided it does not extend too long.
It’s not perfect, and it doesn’t always happen. But when it does, I notice the difference. If you find yourself stuck in survival mode as so many of us do, let me encourage you to try to incorporate a version of prayer time in your own life. Don’t let those words look like something that works for someone else. Like so many things in motherhood, you will also have to make this your own and find what works for you. Embrace what works for you at this time, and rest assured it will bear fruit.