I often imagine how hard it must have been for my mum to bring me and my sister up when we were young. Now that I’m a parent, I find myself armed with a heightened awareness of just how different my imagination is from reality. Being a father to two children with a third on the way, I can now say that I appreciate my mum in a greater measure as I see up-close the challenges that my wife, Michelle, faces in the day-to-day routine of parenting.
As I think about the sacrifices that all mothers make, I am humbled by the kind of work Michelle does in her role as a mother. As I recall our journey from being a married couple with no children to becoming parents, I have seen how she has grown from a wife to becoming a wife and a mother.
5 years into our marriage, we had our first child. We had our second 2 years later and now our third child is about to be born. The transition from being a wife to becoming a mother has been challenging to say the very least.
“As I think about the sacrifices that all mothers make, I am humbled by the kind of work Michelle does in her role as a mother.”
We had a discussion about Michelle’s career and spoke at length about how she would manage working a full-time job with the challenging demands of being a mother to 2 young boys. In the end, we decided to try out several different options. Michelle took a year’s absence from full-time work and later filled a part-time role first before returning to teaching full-time. Trying out these different options brought about many challenges and disruptions that required much adjustments to made. I’m very appreciative of the sacrifices that Michelle has made for the family. I will never take for granted the fact that Michelle’s career progression and ambitions have been affected because of these sacrifices that she has made and I am very grateful.
I know that the experience of carrying a baby for 40 weeks in the womb is, for Michelle, not a comfortable one. To repeat that process three times is something I can only deeply respect. As a guy, I will never experience pregnancy but I imagine it to be similar to doing an Army Training Evaluation Centre (ATEC) evaluation in National Service (for 40 continuous weeks). The mental, physical and emotional energy needed is probably the most comparable in my lousy imagination. How someone can repeat this process 3 times is beyond me. In Michelle’s words, the simple action of lying flat down your tummy after giving birth is akin to tasting heaven. I can identify with that simple joy. To us guys, a similar joy would be to take a shower after an intense week of ATEC outfield exercises. It is so easy to take the small things for granted but my wife has taught me to cherish much.
“As a guy, I will never experience pregnancy but I imagine it to be similar to doing an Army Training Evaluation Centre (ATEC) evaluation in NS (for 40 continuous weeks).”
When I see what Michelle does on a regular basis and the amount of energy she expends to carry out all the tasks, it makes army life suddenly looks somewhat manageable. Her daily routine starts at 6am with preparation for the boys to be ready for school and the adults to be ready to work. By 12 midnight, after a full day’s work in school and at home, the wife will collapse onto the bed. The tasks of doing the never-ending laundry, ironing, putting the clothes back into the wardrobe, preparing the children’s cereals and porridge, mopping the floor and doing the dishes may seem ordinary to some but not to me. The intensity of these tasks have made the transition from wife to mother physically challenging. Looking back, I think that our capable parents probably sheltered us from much of this hard work, making our adjustment to the daily riguor of such parenting routines tough and often discouraging.
Apart from juggling the household chores to her daily work as a teacher, my wife, Michelle, now juggles the additional daily routine of looking after the boys. This to me is execution power at its highest level. There is an insane amount of detail one needs to be concerned about – from remembering to stock up on groceries and regular household items, to remembering the kinds of medicine the children need to take and the dosage, to all the different childcare details etc. I’m so glad that someone like me who is not a naturally detail-oriented person has someone like Michelle to share this burden with.
Michelle will always claims that “mother’s instinct” is a fallacy and I can understand where she comes from. I observe a huge amount of discipline that Michelle undertakes to make sure things get done and responsibilities are taken care of. She works really hard. I’m so glad that I married a wife who has Responsibility, Achiever and Discipline as her strengths!
“If God’s desire is to make us holy rather than happy, I can truly say with certainty that parenting is a divine work.”
Reflecting on the work my wife puts in for our family has made me think hard about the idea of Godly work. If God’s desire is to make us holy rather than happy, I can truly say with certainty that parenting is a divine work. Becoming parents is a path that Michelle and I made together by choice. I see it as a similar path to the one Jesus took when he carried the cross to Calvary – a path filled with pain and suffering but one that signifies obedience. This path is not one taken out of convenience but of conviction. Walking this path has led Michelle to seek God more in her times of need, reflect on her own character flaws and allowed God to continue to mold and shape her. If there is one aspect that I want to specially pay tribute to, it will be my wife’s resolve to please God in the holy work of parenting. I think that is a strength Michelle has truly exhibited. I am glad to have experienced my wife’s walk with God first-hand.
I now have a deeper sense of how motherhood is a high and divine calling, one that is holy work and certainly not lesser than other kinds of work. I pray that God's blessings and grace continue to be given to all the mothers out there. Happy Mother’s Day!
*This article was first written as a guest article for Church of Our Saviour Singapore, published under the title of "The Holy Work of Mothers". This version has been slightly edited and re-published.