“What do you want to be when you grow up?” An uncle posed this classic question to our four-year-old daughter.
“You gonna be a doctor? A lawyer? What do you want to be?”
Without hesitation, she replied, “A dinosaur zookeeper.”
“A dinosaur zookeeper?” His eyes grew wide and sparkled. “Wow, so you’re really looking to specialize.”
Yep. That’s our girl.
Do you remember your answer to that question? Years ago, when well-meaning adults pestered you to define your future in three words or less, what did you say? A teacher? An artist? Missionary, scientist, astronaut?
I’m guessing nobody said—someday, I want to be a mess.
But let’s be honest. After college and marriage and childbirth, mortgages, wrinkles, potty training and parent-teacher conferences, that’s exactly what many of us have become. A bit of a mess.
Because adulthood is not borne of perfectly orchestrated ideals. Real life is shaped both by our choices and what happens in spite of us.
As parents, God has given each of us a specific calling. Our children were designed just for us, on purpose, by an intentional and flawless God. And the family adventure he assigned might not look like the life we imagined.
When we’re drowning in laundry and homework and smelly diaper pails, wondering whatever happened to those old aspirations, that college education, that girl who was going to make a difference in the world—before her world shrunk to one house, a back yard swing set and a minivan.
If you dreamed of frilly dresses and God gave you boys, or you expected a sidekick but your daughter prefers hanging with Dad. Perhaps a small part of you mourns the loss of that picture you painted in your head.
Maybe you’re the mom of a prodigal kid. Or a child sent to Jesus too soon in our eyes. So much heartache, so many tears. Surely this isn’t how it was supposed to be.
Maybe you never even planned to be a mom in the first place.
Your life is not a mistake.
Perhaps your dreams were.
Consider Mary. I’ll bet her family plans were a whole lot different from what God had in mind. Good Jewish girls in her day got married, had a farm full of kids, then raised them into shepherds and field workers and tradesmen who sheltered their dear mother in her golden years.
God planted a baby in Mary’s womb before she knew marriage. And not just any baby, but the Son of the Most High God. Do you think she ever doubted her parenting wisdom? Uh, probably. Then all the dreams she long harbored for her son’s future—her own future—hung demolished on the cross.
Or so it seemed.
We know the full story, now don’t we. Beginning with Genesis and ending one day yet to come, when God’s purposes for Mary’s child will be wholly fulfilled in ways she never could have imagined—God set a spectacular plan in motion. Mary was just a chapter in the book. In all her heartache, how could she possibly have known?
Yet when God handed her this assignment of mom to the Savior of the World, did Mary whine, “But this isn’t how I expected my life to go!”
“I am the Lord’s servant,” Mary answered. “May it be to me as you have said” (Luke 1:38).
Granted, none of us gave birth to the perfect Son of God. Maybe some days your child seems more like the spawn of Satan. But consider this: God knew, from the beginning, exactly what children he was going to place in your arms. Which means he appointed you, and you alone, the exact right fit for your kids.
You are their mother on purpose.
Can you respond with Mary’s heart and pray, “Whatever you say, God. I’m yours.”
My daughter will never become a dinosaur zookeeper, and someday she’ll figure that out. But what she will become, by sticking close to God, is the beautiful mess he designed her to be—hardships and victories included. The same goes for you and me.
You’re not just good enough to do this parenting job.
You’re meant to do it.
God says so.
Becky Kopitzke is a freelance writer, speaker, singer, dreamer, lunch packer, snowman builder and recovering perfectionist. She lives with her handsome husband and their two young daughters in northeast Wisconsin, where a pink indoor trampoline fills half the once formal living room. Becky believes parenting is one of God’s greatest tools for building our faith, character, and strength—and it’s not always pretty. On her blog, Time Out: Devotions for Moms, she offers weekly encouragement for fellow imperfect moms, pointing our weaknesses, blessings, and victories to God.