There is a season for everything and a time for every purpose as the author states in Ecclesiastes 3:1-8: A time to be born. A time to build up and to pull down. To weep. To laugh. To mourn. To dance. To embrace.
In motherhood, these seasons often bombard us all at once on any given day. A toddler’s stormy shouts and tear-streaked face give way to drizzly kisses. Clean kitchen tables disappear beneath sticky piles of Cheerios and crumpled construction paper, like a lawn beneath autumn leaves. There will be block towers to build and to put away. Battles to choose and to ignore. Storytimes and time-outs.
While some seasons change daily and swiftly (my son’s season of wearing an alligator costume every day was thankfully short-lived), other seasons of motherhood seem to drag like the month of February. The foggy days of the newborn stage come to mind. Also, sleep regressions. And potty training. And morning sickness. And don’t forget stomach flu season.
“It won’t last forever,” well-meaning veteran moms remind us. “Soon, you will miss these days.”
And perhaps we will one day when we are well-rested and not covered in bodily fluids. But for the moms currently slogging through the long, hard seasons, it can be hard to see the spring sunshine at the end of the dreary winter. What can we do to feel the warmth when we’re clawing through the snow?
In the winter, we light up the darkness with candles, snuggle under thick blankets, drink cocoa, and gather with loved ones before a fireplace (real or virtual). We jet to tropical places if we can afford to. When the days are cold and dark and the nights are long, we look for warmth and light in the midst of it all.
So how can we find this warmth and light in the long seasons of motherhood?
We could light our own little fire—figuratively, of course—by finding hobbies, getting together with friends, booking some time away from the kids, and getting out of the house every now and then. The promise of these little points of light can certainly help make the longest seasons a little more bearable. But what if we’re too tired? What if we are too cold and stiff to even lift a match?
The best we can do in any season is to look to the ultimate source of Light, the One who never changes. We aren’t alone in our struggles, God is with us. He smiles upon the work we are doing in every season of motherhood—work He set before us—no matter how trivial, tedious, and endless it may seem.
For through our chapped, dishpan hands, God is tending to His youngest creations.
Feeding, clothing, tending, teaching, comforting, and drying tears. As Mary once did for our Savior, who was born a baby just as helpless as our own. As God still does for us, His beloved children, in the biggest of ways. For thanks to that helpless baby Savior, we know that the dark and seemingly endless seasons of life aren’t truly endless and that we look ahead to eternal light.
This knowledge may not make the longer seasons go by any faster, but it can provide us with the warmth of hope, the strength of encouragement, and the relief of grace.
We may not be able to light our own candles, but we can carry that all-consuming light of God’s promises with us—a light too big for us to contain without shining a bit of its warmth to others. And with that light, perhaps we can make the longer seasons—of motherhood or otherwise—a bit more bearable for someone else.