This weekend, I’ve found myself pondering my need for others as I live and grow in my role as a mother. Ben was out of town this weekend, so my practical need of him, in terms of keeping our children alive and the house running, was on the forefront of my mind. When he is absent, it becomes quiet obvious to me how much I rely on him to step in and care for the girls, while I quickly start dinner, unload the dishes, put away the mountain of laundry, and have a minute to myself. Thankfully my parents stepped in and gave me a break on Saturday. (I could write a whole book about the ways my parents have helped and supported us as we’ve stepped into parenthood.)
While I have developed some level of functional social skills, I am most certainly an introvert by nature. I crave time alone. Even as a child, I can remember enjoying having sleepovers with my friends, but then feeling antsy for the hangout to end in the morning so that I could have some time alone. And during school, group projects where torture. They cramped my independence and forced me to rely on others. My dear, extroverted husband has learned that I will inevitably become ornery and eventually tearful if spend “too much” time with others.
As a mother, especially as a mother to extroverted little Caroline and Margaret, quiet days are not really an option. While I know that the core of my personality will not change, I do believe that the Lord is using this season in my life to teach me to make more room for others. He is also dismantling my illusion that I am an independent person who has no need for others.
This morning at church, I was acutely aware of my need for others as a mother. I was dreading the thought of taking the girls by myself and questioned whether I should even bother to go. I’ve taken them by myself to the women’s Bible study on Tuesday mornings several times, but Sunday mornings are busier and Margaret is older and no longer tolerates being worn in the carrier through the service. I told myself I could handle it, but at the same time I didn’t really believe myself.
I didn’t handle it. Instead, the Lord provided through the small, helpful actions of other mothers. One young mom, whose babies were not with her as she walked into church, ran ahead and opened the front door for me while I pulled Caroline up the steps with one hand and held Margaret with the other. An older mother gave me an encouraging smile and noted that my hands were quite full. Mothers watched my babies in the nursery so that I could attend the service. One even bounced my fussing Margaret, selflessly waiting until the end of the service to text me about her discontent, allowing me to hear the sermon and partake of communion. Caroline’s nursery room is upstairs. I had planned on carrying her down the busy, narrow stairs before getting Margaret. With little sister fussing, my plan was foiled. As I was approaching the stairs with both girls (and a flustered look on my face, I’m sure), another mother scooped up Caroline and carried her down for me. Another mom zipped my open backpack from behind.
I knew that, like marriage, motherhood would be sanctifying. It would open my eyes to my deep selfishness and other idols. But I think motherhood is unique in that it really trains one to see and meet the practical needs of others. I sat next to a new mother during the service and she commented on how I was brave to bring the girls to church solo. I chuckled and rolled my eyes in response, but what I should have told her was that I didn’t accomplish the task independently. It took a whole community of mothers to get me through the morning.