Parenthood – A Martyrdom or Blessing?

Introduction

Nobody ever knows if they are ready to become parents. The clock starts ticking from the moment you see two lines on the pregnancy test kit. You have 38 weeks to prepare yourself for your new role.

Pregnancy

For mothers, the 38 weeks is a magical experience – peppered with both good and bad.

The motherhood self-sacrificial training begins – Morning sickness, low blood pressure, the constant need to run to the toilet.

The overwhelming fear of your child’s safety also begins to grow within you. Many women can testify to the immense fears that penetrates their hearts when blood spotting is detected during pregnancy. Some women are hyper sensitive to the lack of movement in the womb in the third trimester.

With that said, there is so much good to be experienced in pregnancy too – the thrilling movements of the baby’s stirrings in the womb; the amazing gynae visits where you have the chance to catch a glimpse of your little one through the ultrasound. All these are just preludes to the great happiness a child brings.

A True Blessing

In modern society, we tend to have a myopic and erroneous view of happiness. We have become overly materialistic. We are convinced that the deepest happiness is gained when we are the most beautiful, youthful, productive and materially endowed (eg. house, car, clothing, bags).

Due to this misconception of happiness, most people tend to consider parenthood as the ultimate martyrdom. (Especially when viewed from the outside.)

You observe this frazzled looking mother carrying a ragged old diaper bag and wearing well worn clothing. She has got little make up on and her eyes are darkened with dark eye rings. She is pushing a pram and she is smiling placidly at her children (one in a carrier and one in the pram).

You think to yourself – “Oh poor thing, she is lacking in personal grooming, new material goods; and by the looks of things – probably in sleep and alone time too. Why would anyone choose this suffering over all the joys and riches that childlessness can imbue?”

You become convinced that having children is the worst martyrdom ever. And you are not wrong. You are just not seeing the full picture. In truth, this is what’s going on in the mother’s head.

“We have gotten the groceries for today. We are lucky to have gotten the ‘reduced to clear’ vegetables. These vegetables will make a good salad for your daddy later. Let’s get us home for a quick shower and nap time. We may even be able to sneak in a storybook reading session before our nap.”

The young mother is so preoccupied caring for her family that she is no longer bothered about other’s opinions of her. We, the modern people of the materialistic world, tend to care too much about other’s opinions of ourselves. As a result, we spend too much money amassing clothes, shoes, bags and jewellery trying to impress others. (Some take the extra mile to take selfies of themselves in their stylish regalia for posting on social media – they WANT to be seen.)

Motherhood changes that. In one fell swoop, the immense love for family and children, removes the vices of avarice and pretentiousness. In its place, a gentle and self-sacrificial spirit is imbued. The mother finds herself happier than her former self. How can this be? Indeed, it is God’s secret reward to all parents – a clear path towards true joy.

Suffering – Yes

I do not want to romanticise motherhood. Former US president Obama said that having children is like having your hearts located outside your body, you just want to keep them close and protect them; but they are running amok out there getting hurt all the time.

I think he nailed it.

Due to the immense love for our children, it is often easy to develop overprotective tendencies. These tendencies are not good for our children as they impede them from receiving the suffering they need to acquire fortitude and compassion. Hence, all parents face a constant need to regulate their overprotective instincts.

Having children also teaches parents to abandon any illusion of self-sufficiency. Indeed, we can not stick to our children 24 hours a day. In our time apart, we have to trust God to protect them.

Of course, there are other more primary difficulties of parenthood (eg. little time alone for the pursuit of hobbies, financial struggles, grappling with post pregnancy weight gain) These are unpleasant but with that said, many parents would gladly embrace all those just to ensure that their children are safe and sound.

Conclusion

What does durian taste like? It is hard to explain it to someone who has never tasted it before.

In a way, parenthood is like durian. You will only know its sweetness after you have tasted it. Before that, no amount of reading or baby sitting will teach you. In a way, parenthood is like God.

Taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed is the one who takes refuge in him (Psalm 34:8)

If you are grappling with worries about parenthood? My challenge to you is simply – taste and see!

Have a blessed day ahead!

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Counsellor, Writer (Christianity, Children’s short stories)

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Denise Thong

Denise Thong

Counsellor, Writer (Christianity, Children’s short stories)

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