Grace became a mom at age 28, and is now 32 with three kids, 4, 3, and 16 months. Getting pregnant for Grace was somewhat of a miracle. She was born with jejunal atresia, and has since had three abdominal surgeries. Grace spent the better half of her childhood years in and out of the hospital, getting countless x-rays and ct-scans. She said her mom was always afraid that the increased exposure to radiation would affect her fertility. "And yet," Grace said, "God protected my eggs, and has given me three healthy pregnancies and babies…all in the span of three years!"
Tell us your journey to becoming a mom. What were some of the hardest times? What were some of the most joy-filled moments?
I always wanted to be a mother. My freshman year of college, a professor asked each student to write what they wanted to be after graduation, and I wrote “Mom.” However, as I neared the end of my ThM studies at DTS, voices from every direction encouraged me to continue with a doctorate, and for the first time in a life, I did not want kids…at least not then. I remember sitting on the floor in our living room on the first day of January that year, sobbing, because I had made a commitment to now “allow” God to decide when we have kids (i.e. no more contraception of any kind), but I did not want to. I was angry, frustrated, and afraid. Getting pregnant and having a baby would “mess up” my dreams and plans. And while I “obeyed,” I was resistant and reluctant. But I “lost” that battle…and every fight I pick with the Lord *ha*.
My Mom had always told me that raising children was an extreme sacrifice. It was very non-Asian but brutally honest way to tell me to not have children unless I really wanted them. I never thought too much of what she said until that season. My prayer became that God would give me the desire for children if that was His plan for me. And five months in, He used the pregnancy announcement of a close friend to completely change my mindset. I cannot fully explain it because there was nothing logical about it, but suddenly, the desire was there again, and it was strong! And within two months, I was pregnant with our first baby girl. I sometimes catch myself wondering what it would be like if I continued in PhD studies, but I have never wondered with regret. I would not trade being a Mom for anything in this world. Nothing…ok, except maybe Jesus, but I already have Him *wink*.
Because of my abdominal surgeries and chronic obstruction due to an insane amount of scar tissue (imagine my intestines as a rubber band ball), pregnancy had its difficulties. I was hospitalized each time at the beginning or at the end because of obstruction. Thank God each case never required surgery and baby remained healthy and safe. I was also on a very restricted diet and basically survived on partial liquids with no fruits, veggies, or fiber throughout the whole nine months. It was exhausting at times, but God’s grace was always enough. And I’m hoping to do it again for #4! *fingers crossed*
Yes, I play a big role, a huge one, but I am not all-powerful—whether to ruin or to make them.
What was your experience of meeting your children for the first time like?
I’ve never been the emotional type, except when it comes to movies about lost animals *sob*. Meeting my children in the delivery room was special each time, but never overwhelmingly emotional, and I never cried. The most exciting part was actually seeing what they looked like—that was what I wondered about most during pregnancy. As the days and nights passed, though, I began to fall in love with my children. I always felt a sense of responsibility over them, but the giving of my heart was gradual for me. There was a moment with each of them around the age of one when I stared into their eyes, and I knew that I loved them with all my heart and that they were mine. That’s how all lasting relationships are, at least for me—built one day at a time. It was no different, even with the human beings who popped out of me *chuckle*.
What did you think motherhood would look like before you became a mom? What were you surprised by?
I’m not sure I really thought too much about it. I knew I wanted to have children, and I knew that in about nine months time, that would happen. I prepared for the usual things, as any responsible mother-to-be would, but I never day dreamed of what it would be like. I just figured, we’d find out when it happened. And we did. The tasks were expected and even the fear and anxiety, but the guilt…the guilt surprised me. With every poor decision and reaction, I was afraid I would “ruin” my children—that I somehow emotionally scarred them or damaged them in some way. And when they always forgave me and came running for a hug, I felt even more guilty. That’s where the Lord comes in. I am learning to give my guilt over to Him, to confess, repent, and ask for forgiveness when I wrong them, and to trust that He is ultimately sovereign over the man or woman they become. Yes, I play a big role, a huge one, but I am not all-powerful—whether to ruin or to make them.
There are no such things as “perfect” days of motherhood, but there are days when God’s presence and grace are felt more than ever. I am grateful that those days outnumber the others.
What have you learned about yourself through motherhood?
Oh, man. I could write all day about this. For the most part, I come face to face with how much of a sinner I am every single day. Children know how to press your buttons in just the right way to send you into a flying rage. It is truly humbling. I never knew just how little patience I have, or how I can speak at a very high volume, or even how violent I can be when really pressed. The Lord have mercy! Motherhood is the epitome of sanctification, no doubt. But I’ve also been pleasantly surprised at how strong I am. I’ve somehow managed to keep three kids, currently four and under, alive, healthy, and thriving. And even started homeschooling a year ago *gasp*. There are no such things as “perfect” days of motherhood, but there are days when God’s presence and grace are felt more than ever. I am grateful that those days outnumber the others.
Share with us the biggest ways God has worked in your heart and shown his character to you through this journey of motherhood.
I’ll just share one. He is trustworthy. That is all. His time, His way, His purpose, His heart. All trustworthy. And how do I lean into that assurance and security? Through prayer. The number of thoughts and decisions we have to make concerning our children are innumerable. One of the most debilitating games to allow your mind to play is “what if?” It is crippling, useless, and utterly depressing. So, I learned to turn my “what ifs” into prayers and to trust that the God who created my children know what’s best for them. When the time comes for me to make a seemingly “earth shattering” decision on their behalf, He will leave me with no doubt as to what is the right choice. I am so extremely humbled to say that God has never once let me down. In the big and little decisions, He has always proven to be trustworthy. Because He is. And just because I became a mother and now have little human beings that depend on me does not me that He suddenly became un-trustworthy. I just have to learn to give this whole new sphere over to Him too.
Is there anything else you’d like to share about your experience as a mom?
Motherhood is not everything. When I found out I was pregnant the first time, I began praying that I would not find my identity in motherhood. It is so easy to make children your “everything,” especially for a stay-at-home, homeschooling mom like me. I am grateful that the Lord has graciously given me continuous opportunities to exercise my gifts apart from motherhood. Each time, those experiences have made me a better woman and consequently a better mother. I continue to learn to take time away from my children to pursue other adventures, and to do so without feeling guilty. It is a give and take, a hard balance to strike, and one that I could not achieve without a supportive husband and family. Motherhood is a partnership. It takes a village. And, you are more than a mother. You are a woman, created in the image of God, endowed with special gifts and talents, to bring glory to God through your many roles, one of which is most honorable—being a mother, but it is not all that you are. Remember that and keep pursuing those dreams. The timeline may have changed, and it may not look like what you initially imagined, but I guarantee you that your God has even bigger dreams for you than you can imagine. The words of 1 Corinthians 2:9 hang on my wall for this very reason. Look it up. Read it. Relish it. Hang onto it.
Thank you for reading this story of Grace's motherhood journey. I hope, as we continue the series, your life will be enriched by the stories other moms share.