Refined by Motherhood

For forty-five minutes I held my sixteen month old son in my arms as he cried and cried. No change in position brought him comfort as his little body fought the latest round of immunizations.

Desperate to console him, I retreated from his well-meaning siblings into the bedroom Matthew shares with his sister. I turned on the box fan to circulate cool air and drown out the chatter from the living room. Then snuggling him close, I climbed into Ellie’s bed, praying he would fall asleep and rest.

Mercifully, with his head pillowed on my chest and the sound of my heartbeat in his ears, my sweet toddler drifted into a fitful sleep.

As we laid there, me soaking in his sweaty boy smell and stroking his fine blond hair, my thoughts drifted to another mama and son – Leann and her eldest boy.

I am refined by motherhood.

Leann and Her Son

Last week my friend Leann hugged her oldest son, told him she loved him, and then went home to his empty bedroom while the U.S. Marine Corps flew him to California to begin the process of transforming him from a recruit into a Marine.

For the next thirteen weeks Leann’s son will be pushed to the brink of his physical, mental, and emotional breaking point. He will face the greatest challenges of his eighteen years during those long weeks at boot camp. Meanwhile, his mama goes about the business of mothering his siblings and wishing she could be in California for just a couple of minutes to comfort him at the end of his long, long days.

It’s hard to standby and watch your son struggle, and hurt, and cry. A mama’s heart wants to swoop in and deflect the blows of life, to take away the hurt and difficulties.  But, just like I know that immunizations are for my toddler’s protection and ultimate good health, Leann knows that boot camp is developing character and skills in her son that he will need for his career as a Marine.

While praying for Leann and her man cub, my thoughts drifted to another mama and son – Mary and Jesus.

The process of transformation is usually painful for sons AND mamas.

Mary and Jesus

What an amazing bond must have existed between Mary and Jesus, her unexpected gift from God! While the rest of the world saw a popular teacher, a miracle worker, or a savior from government oppression, she saw her son.

How it must have pained her mama’s heart to know her Nazarene neighbors scorned him, to hear the reports of the Jewish rulers trying to discredit him, and then to listen that fateful day in Jerusalem as the crowds cried out for Jesus, HER son, flesh of her flesh, to be brutally killed!

Did she truly understand that for her salvation her son had to die? Certainly she knew he was the Son of God, but did she grasp that the ultimate challenge that her son faced was necessary for the salvation of all mankind? That the painful process of death would bring joyous life for many?

I don’t know. Scripture doesn’t tell us.

I doubt that clinging to the purpose and results of her son’s death would have made it any easier to watch. I don’t think it would have dried her tears or comforted her broken mama’s heart when his body was laid in a borrowed tomb. I also doubt the joy of his resurrection and her salvation completely removed the pain of separation after he ascended to heaven.

Snuggling my feverish son and pondering the stories of other mamas and sons that I know, I couldn’t help thinking – this mothering gig is HARD!

Each new stage my children enter teaches me a new lesson. I mature just a bit more. Just like my children, I am being equipped and trained for the next step and the next phase of life. I am enduring difficult days for the sweetness of growth.

I am refined by motherhood.


In what ways has motherhood refined or changed YOU?