by Rachel Zwayne, Speaker at CHEA’s 35th Annual Homeschool Convention
“They grow up way too fast!”
It’s the phrase that I’ve heard repeated over and over by friends and strangers since my early days of motherhood. And, boy, has that truth proven to be an understatement. Any mother of older children will testify to the fact that all it takes is for her to come across some old baby photos, and she will immediately be weeping buckets. So many of us feel that intense longing for those precious days that slipped through our fingers so quickly.
Recently, I had one of those painful “mom moments” as I looked at my teenage son over lunch with his handsome face and big hazel eyes, and had a flashback of the chubby toddler with the softest cheeks in the world. Oh, to be able to carry him in my arms and kiss his pudgy little face again!When I was in the trenches of the baby and toddler years, I was often warned to, “Soak it up!” in light of how quickly time would fly. As mothers, we have an intense desire to do this, but many of us have an unspoken internal response of, “How? I desperately want to soak it up, but it’s difficult to love every aspect of my life right now.”
Pulled in Twenty Directions
It’s tough—extremely tough—to soak it all up when they’re little, because you’re overwhelmed and you’re tired and you just want to be able to escape so you can breathe for a few moments. You know mentally that you will miss these days, but you have a deep longing to be free of the tantrums, the whining, the constant fatigue, and always feeling like you are being pulled in twenty directions all day long.
But in order to make the most of those precious days of childhood, you have to keep fighting—fighting to be joyful and content and loving, because it’s a season of time that we all know will pass quickly. So if you’re struggling through motherhood right now, and you’re weary and worn, remember that if you cry out to Him, the Lord will strengthen you in the midst of it all, and give you the grace for each moment as you fix your eyes on Him.
As you fight to cherish your time with your children, here are three ways to stay the course:
1. Set your mind on things above
Our lives are fading quickly. James 4:14 says, “…for what is your life? It is even a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away.” Eternity is coming and the most important thing in life is that we think often of our own souls and the souls of our children. We must take care of daily needs and responsibilities, but when we keep our minds fixed on eternity, so much of our stress and worries will fade and roll off of us, because we know that God has everything under control. Fill your heart and mind with His Word as often as you can, and cry out to Him for His help daily, finding security in His love and care for your daily needs and struggles.
2. Have a passion for thriving, not just surviving
Most of us start off motherhood with a deep desire to thrive and put our whole hearts into this “mom thing.” But as time goes on, and we start to experience the intense challenges of motherhood, we can easily slip into “survival mode.” In our overwhelmed state, instead of being proactive and intentional with our children as they are growing, we are content to just make it to bedtime without too many casualties, both physical and spiritual.
Social media has become a wonderful place for us to find encouragement as wives and mothers. It’s especially consoling to know that we’re not alone when we read about other women’s struggles and hardships that we can really identify with. I believe strongly in being real and transparent, especially in a day and age where a lot of our interactions with other women consist mostly of seeing each other with smiling faces at church or in perfect photos on Facebook or Instagram.
I think there is a danger, though, in being raw, real, and honest when it’s not followed by an expression of deep remorse over sin and a passion to grow and change. It’s comforting to know that we’re not alone with the struggles in our marriages and in our frustrations with our kids, but this can easily lead to complacency and an attitude that stops at, “I’m glad I’m not the only one!” We must set the bar higher, be zealous for more holiness, and identify the areas of sin that need to be rooted out of our lives. We must not agree to live in “survival mode” because that is what we see modeled quite often around us.
As Christian women, let’s be real, let’s sympathize with one another, and let’s even find humor in the craziness. But then let’s press on together toward holiness, owning up to the sins in our lives that are not pleasing to the Lord. Let’s remember that “Those who are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires” (Galatians 5:24) and then let’s press on with a good game plan, daily thriving because of God’s grace that helps us in our time of need.
3. Take care of yourself
Do whatever you can to get some time to be refreshed. Whether this is consistent date nights with your husband, coffee with a cherished friend, or even time alone, these periods of “recharging” will fill you up with energy to come back to your children in a renewed state, ready to continue your beautiful journey with them. I have been blessed, for almost a decade now, to be able to get away with friends for a weekend each year where we talk about our children, share our struggles, confess our sins, and encourage each other to press on with intention and passion. During these times, I have many quiet moments and the clarity of mind to reflect on where I am at as a mother. So whether you’re able to take a few days at a time or even just an hour or two, be resolved to make this happen often, so that you can return to your family with fresh excitement and a renewed vision to love and care for them in specific, thought-out, and prayed-over ways.
Even though two of my five children have hit adulthood already, I know I can’t constantly lament the days that have floated away, or I will waste today. For those of you whose children are getting older, when those intense “I’m devastated that you’re growing so fast” emotions rear up, use them as a catalyst to throw you into taking advantage of every moment to continue to pour God’s Word into your children, and to live out a life of godliness in front of them. Living in such a way will minimize any regrets as you see the years fly by, and will give you consolation that you put your whole heart into mothering.
If you have regrets and wish you would have soaked up more time with your children and poured into them more, don’t lose heart! Your adult sons can still do with a great deal of encouragement through the challenges of life, whether they’re single, husbands, or fathers. As older women, we are exhorted to mentor the younger women in our lives, and this does not exclude your own grown daughters. They still need you to speak into their lives and be a support to them as grown women, wives, and mothers; they need you to be a cheerleader when they feel like they can’t go on. You can be a voice of encouragement to all of the young moms around you, sharing wisdom and advice from all that you have learned, and at the same time still be able to soak up the beauty of the children and grandchildren in your life right now.
The seeds that we sow and the sacrificial love and gentle nurture that we extend as mothers will live on into eternity. And that is something to celebrate, smile about, and encourage other mothers with when we find ourselves saying once again, “They grow up way too fast!”
Rachel Zwayne was born and raised in New Zealand. At the age of 14, her father’s ministry (Ray Comfort/ Living Waters) relocated to Southern California, where she eventually met her husband and became the mother of five children. Rachel has been homeschooling for the past 16 years and finds great delight in encouraging other women in their role as mothers, wives, and homeschoolers. She has done this in her capacity as a leader and teacher of multiple women’s groups, and as a conference speaker. Rachel has been married to Emeal (“E.Z.”) for 22 years and they live in Riverside, California with their three daughters and two sons.
Rachel will speak on the following at CHEA’s 35th Annual Homeschool Convention June 28-30, 2018 in Pasadena: