Before I had children, I thought I knew my capacity for love. I love my husband so much, and I thought, “How could I ever love anyone more?” Then, when my first daughter was born, I felt like the Grinch—I felt my heart grow seven times that day! I had never known such love.
Before that moment, I didn’t know it was possible to love someone so much. It’s a different kind of love from the love you reserve for your husband. It’s an unexplainable love. It’s a heart-bursting kind of love. I think it’s a picture of how God loves us—but a small picture, far smaller than we can comprehend.
I have always had this great love for my daughter. I remember waking up every single day and feeling like it was Christmas. I couldn’t wait to see her and hold her, even through the day she exploded out of her clothes right before pictures. Every day, I couldn’t wait to see her.
Then I came to a point when I had three kids who were four years old and under. Some of those days were so exhausting. The house was a mess. I couldn’t keep up. Everything exploded.
I had to do everything. I had to wipe bottoms and feed people. I remember calculating one day that I spent six hours in the kitchen. Six. In one day. Seriously, who wants to do that? I didn’t become a stay-at-home wife and mother to clean the house and cook. I stayed to be with my kids. I didn’t want to be in the kitchen for one out of four hours every day. My husband said there were days when I would meet him at the door and be like, “Please, take them all”—and then I would leave. Clearly I needed an escape.
But that time passed. I remember when the youngest was five and at last I was able to take a breath and let go a little bit. For the first time, I didn’t have to help everyone with every single detail. Now the youngest is ten. Yesterday we went shopping, and I didn’t even go into the dressing room with anyone. My daughters went into the dressing room and decided for themselves what they wanted.
I want you young moms to know that although those early years of motherhood are hard and feel like they go on forever, they are fleeting. Embrace every moment. Don’t become discouraged in the hard work; the hard work pays off. I’m talking about the hard work of not blowing up, the hard work of not losing your temper, the hard work of choosing joy, the hard work of taking a rest and choosing not to feel guilty about it. Let’s not forget the hard and relentless work of feeding an army. There’s the hard work of keeping a smile on your face no matter how many times the chocolate milk is spilled. There’s the hard work of loving your kids when they hurt you.
Making those good choices in the young years pays off in deep relationships in the teen years. It gives you influence that otherwise you would not have. Your kids can say, “My mom is not a hypocrite. I can trust what she says.”
I want you to know that the choices you make in your kids’ young years pay dividends later. If you make good choices along the way, they will pay off with strong, healthy relationships. On the other hand, if you choose to speak and act out of your flesh and your anger, out of your frustration and impatience and exhaustion, you will not like the results.
But it’s not too late. Today, this day, make a good choice. You have before you life and death, blessings and curses. Today, choose life.