It’s the glorious month of May, when we celebrate the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother’s Day, and the long-awaited return of the glowing orb in the sky here in the Pacific Northwest.

May is also my birthday month, which often precipitates equal parts celebration and contemplation about the meaning of my life and vocation as a wife and mother. Lately, I’ve noticed that learning to be a mother looks an awful lot like becoming who God wants me to be.

Being a parent is a bizarre and tremendous thing. All of a sudden, you’re expected to be completely responsible for someone you’ve just met, who has all manner of needs that you’ve never supplied before, and has various personality traits and proclivities that surely don’t come from your side of the gene pool.

But necessity is a mother. I am a mother because my children were conceived. And I had to figure out how to be a mother because, all of a sudden, I was one.

It’s inconceivable how small beings so thoroughly inexperienced and utterly helpless can somehow reduce grown-ups to puddles incapable of rational thought, but they can. And do. At least, they do in my house. Regularly.

However, I am beginning to, ever so slowly, appreciate the “puddle” stage, because I’ve found that, if I’m humble, it leads to the “pondering how I’m doing as a parent” stage and, finally, the “changing and growing” stage. If it were not for the painful puddle, I likely wouldn’t recognize my need to be better. To do better.

And that’s what my children have done for me—they’ve pushed me to be a better human being, in spite of myself.

Recently, my eldest son asked, “Mommy, why did you have so many kids?” What a loaded question. My carefully worded response was: “Because God knew how many blessings he wanted to give me, and I am grateful for each one of you!”  

But here’s what I suspect is the real reason I’m the mother of five children: God knew that I needed each one of these challenging and amazing human beings to want to be a better person. To crave quiet to think and ponder and pray. To cling to God in my weakness. To desire holiness. To attempt to follow the narrow way.

I honestly don’t know what God was thinking when he decided it was time for me to have a child, and then another, and another, and another, and another. But I am so profoundly and deeply grateful that he did think of me. And each of them. I believe that he knew from all eternity that we were meant to be together as a family.

This path to holiness is not without its roadblocks, detours, and super-sized potholes. But it is, in God’s good timing and for his greater glory, going to get me to the pearly gates one day if he is truly as merciful as his Word promises.   

My go-to Mommy Mantra is “outlast.” If I can just keep loving, serving, giving, offering slightly longer than they are awake, I figure I win. In actuality, God wins. I also believe that I’m surviving one “Glory Be” at a time. And that’s the gospel truth. Because sometimes I feel like I’m I way over my head with this parenting gig. There are no directions, no time-outs, no do-overs, and no phone-a-friends. Of course, those feelings are false; there is always God. Always. And grace. And a large coconut milk latte if things get really bad.

As another birthday passes, I wonder if I’m living a life that inspires my children to be humble, compassionate, holy people. All I can do is keep trying. I fall. Often. Yet I keep getting back up. But is a legacy of falling and getting up enough?

I just know that I want mine to be a legacy rooted in love. No matter what, I want my children to know that I love them. And I realize talk is cheap. And sometimes they may not be able to understand the depth of my love because I’m not showing it in the way they think I should or as they would prefer. But I am trying so hard to overcome my shortcomings, wounds, and brokenness to be the best mom I can be.

And in the places where I fail, I pray that God, in his mercy, fills in the gaps and holes that remain. I pray, too, that they cling to Jesus and become holy in spite of me.

Things in our home may not always make sense to my children. Things may not always be joy-filled or lovely or beautiful. They might be messy and undone. But with God’s grace, I am trying. One thrown together meal, one load of laundry, one boo-boo kissed, one Glory Be prayed at a time.