Motherhood Has Many Faces
Kimberly N. Alleyne
The Harvest Magazine, Publisher and Editor
“He maketh the barren woman to keep house, and to be a joyful mother of children.” Psalm 113: 9
My Mom married young, soon after college graduation. She was only 21 when I was born, and my father was 29. Over our years together, she has said often how dramatically motherhood changed her life, how it made her a different–better–person. I have waited expectantly for my own life-transforming, life-will-never-be-the-same encounter with the baby I give birth to.
Now that I am more than twice the age Mom was when she had me, I have accepted that God may not have called me to motherhood, at least not in the traditional sense. The road to this realization has been long and sobering, if painful.
But here I am. I made it here. I am here in a place of peace, confidence, a fresh outlook, an open mind and heart, and joy at the thought of walking firmly in God’s will for my life.
I am happy to be whatever God has purposed me to do — whatever that looks like. I made it here, but without many tears, wrestling matches with the Lord, and much prayer, fasting, and reflection. I made it here by surrendering everything I wanted for my life, and everything I hoped my life would be. It did not happen all at once; it happened gradually, in stages. It happened each time I flipped the calendar back on another birthday and as I got close to “advanced maternal age.” It happened with each failed relationship with someone I realized was not whom God had assigned as my husband. It happened in the face of a trying health battle and medication that makes conception and carrying a baby to term, especially at my age, very difficult.
The truth, my truth, is that I have no idea what God is going to do in this area of my life. I know He can do anything, that nothing is difficult for Him, is subject to wild surprises, and that He is an Ephesians 3:20 kind of daddy. But that still does not give me a hint of my future. All I know is that I had to release the perfectly defined portrait I painted for my life, and replace it with a lightly, drawn sketch that can be altered or erased altogether in one eye blink.
As soon as I stopped whining to God about what I wanted, and stopped striving with Him, in an ever vain and dumb attempt to write my future, something happened. As I released what I wanted to God and slowly acquiesced, something in me, in my heart and spirit, changed. I want children; I want to be a mother. My desire did not wane with my surrender. What did change, however, was my perspective about motherhood–what it is, what it looks like…
Yes, it is true that I may never bear a child, but I can still be a mother. I can adopt (and I may do that). But I can also be a mother in other ways. I am dating someone who has children; if things progress with us I would love his children as my own.
Motherhood has no one face. Motherhood has many faces. Motherhood is not bound by labor pains, geography, zip code, race, ethnicity, age, socioeconomic class, income, education, or whether a woman actually gives birth to a child. I can be a mother to my S.O.’s children even though I did not carry them. Motherhood is love, compassion, acceptance, grace, understanding, care, support, kindness, patience, teaching, protection, and provision. I can do that to them and other children, too. I can also mother young women in their walks with God; and I can mother my sisters in certain areas where they are weak or doubtful.
Motherhood is abstract and without defined pattern or description.
I am a writer. I am an intercessor. I am a dancer. I am called to inform, inspire, encourage and edify through my words, prayers and dancing. I can use each of my gifts to mother others.
Is this what I imagined? No. I always imagined that my Mom would help me raise my children in the same way my grandmother helped her. My dreams were so detailed that I could hear the laughter of my children echoing throughout my home, and see the joy and pride in my Mom’s eyes from being a grandmother…
Am I okay with it? Well…Yes. Yes, I am okay with it. Now, I am. Finally. This is where God has me, and because I love and trust Him without condition or contingencies, I am happy in this place. He has me here for a reason. I’ve found great blessings, wisdom, and refreshment in this place.
Motherhood is in my heart and spirit. This is my truth whether I never bear a child or not. I am no less a woman or a beloved daughter of God because I have not borne a child. No one determines my identify, only my daddy can do that. Motherhood does not define my identity—Daddy God’s acceptance of me and His expansive, unconditional love for me does.
There is nothing “wrong” with me because I have not borne children. God is not punishing me for one of my many sins (He’s not that type of daddy). He simply has not called me to that (traditional) role — maybe He will. But maybe He won’t.
I pray for my sisters who are seeking God for a child or children. I pray for my sisters who have lost children. I pray for my sisters who have children, that the Lord would continue to strengthen and replenish them…
And I realize I am a mother now, today. I am not barren. I am a fruit bearer because the Holy Spirit makes His home in me. I am a “joyful mother of children.” God makes no mistakes, He collects every tear, and He does not waste anything. So as I celebrate my beloved Mom, I am also celebrating where I am, with no regrets or shame.
I bought myself a bouquet of flowers to celebrate. You should celebrate, too.
How do you define motherhood? Please share your story and photos with us on Twitter @theharvestmagazine, or on Facebook–TheHarvestMagazine.