The Courage to Be Hidden – Mothering Young Children
There are invaluable faith-filled lessons to be learned during the hidden season of raising young children
Christina Siew writes at joogostyle.com, sharing on topics about travel, home and baby. She also founded an online community targeted towards mothers based in Singapore who have children below 5 years old.
Often when people think of being “brave” in their faith, they focus on outward exploits, like going to the mission field or preaching in front of large crowds. Can you share how staying home to raise young children can require a step of faith?
I can think of a few answers to this. First, we need to be brave enough to believe in God’s providence – His ability to provide for us financially.
We need to know that He will provide what we need, and also not to forget our family’s wants. Even though we only rely on a single, main source of income, He can also provide in other ways – through people or other income streams, through His wisdom.
This is similar to missionaries who quit their jobs and enter into an overseas mission field, except, now this mission field is at home – ministering to the young lives. Second, we need to be brave enough to believe in God’s purpose for our lives.
Mothers go through the daily mundane tasks without great breakthroughs sometimes. However, the growth of the seed we have sown is only seen in the long term. And whether there’s a blossoming result or not is also dependent on God – we sow, He grows the plants (the children’s lives).
“In this hidden season, the key is really to let go and trust God has something for us. He’s working something in us.”
For me, I never felt called to be a mother. It just seemed to be a progression of life, and for the good of the children, I decided to stay home with them. I believe this is God’s calling for me in this season in life. He will fulfil the dreams He has put in me in due time, during or after this season of being at home.
Lastly, I think we need to be brave to sacrifice self for a season, to nurture the gifts He has placed in our hands.
Can you tell us how your ministry to mothers with young children was birthed and how you see it growing?
When I gave birth to my second baby this year, I was struggling badly. It was especially compounded because my husband’s work schedule got busier because of COVID-19. It was then that I thought of other mothers, especially first-time mothers who needed spiritual support in their early years.
I thought back to when I gave birth to my first child – I had joined a mother’s group in my church. But most of the hosts were mothers of teenagers, so there was a bit of disconnect, when I’m parenting a newborn.
I was looking for support, specifically in the spiritual side of mothering young children. In Singapore, there are lot of WhatsApp groups for mothers, but they’re mainly secular, so the support is more practical than spiritual. So I thought it would be nice to have fellow mothers in Christ come together to spur one another on, in an informal way online. I decided to set up a WhatsApp group of Christian mothers from different churches. I realized this platform would be a good way to connect mothers with young children to others in the same situation.
Especially during this pandemic, when we cannot meet people and other mothers like we used to, this online community has been so important. We have close to 40 mothers in our group now.
The ladies are encouraged to share their prayers, testimonies, Christian articles, or Bible verses in the group. I will also send out a devotional occasionally, as the Lord leads, so that mothers get nuggets of Biblical wisdom delivered to their phones. Sometimes it’s tough for mothers with young kids to sit down and read the Bible – the moment you wake up, your baby is crying and needs your attention. But we all have our phones with us, so we can deliver the message right to you, right where you are.
[Editor’s note: Interested mothers who would like to join the group can find out more and sign up at this link.]
So how would you say mothers with young children can walk out their identity? At the same time, what mindsets do you think are detrimental?
In Singapore, most of us are very task-driven and achievement-oriented. We work a lot. Even in the church, we often feel we’re being measured by what we do for the church. But when you have young children, you often have to stop doing certain things. There are some activities you just can’t keep doing.
It often becomes a hidden season for mothers. It’s in these early years with young children when mothers are suddenly so overwhelmed and stretched in time and energy. They have no bandwidth to set aside time for a devotional, let alone to serve in church. Many feel guilty in their lack of spiritual growth and health, and worse, they feel “cut out” from the church as they are not as useful in terms of ministry.
Sometimes you feel useless in that sense. We feel guilty that we’re not doing things. So in this hidden season, the key is really to let go and trust that God has something for us. He’s working something in us.
Personally I want to do more for God, and sometimes feel that being a stay-at-home-mom impedes what I want to do. But through it all, I realized the precious hiddenness that comes from this role.
“Motherhood itself is a refining fire through the mundane.”
I think it’s okay for mothers to just let go of ministry and focus on ministering to their family. It’s something I’m trying to learn as well, that we also can do our “ministry” at home. What we do has a lot of eternal impact on our own children, and we are being just as fruitful, if not even more fruitful, at home as we would be if we were busy in the church.
There’s only a short period when I can influence my children greatly. It’s a precious opportunity to learn to be faithful in small things, and let God do a heart work in me, purging out impurities in my faith.
I can allow this time of hiddenness to be a humbling place that prepares myself for whatever God has in store for me in future. We have to accept that this is a season that God wants us to go through, and trust that He will make us fruitful in this time, while preparing us for our next season.
What are some ways that the Church be more supportive in this special season of a mother’s life?
Personally, I believe more should be done by the church to support mothers. A mother in her day-to-day routine may feel that she’s distancing from God, when motherhood itself is a refining fire through the mundane. God is doing a deep work, from digging out childhood hurts to wrong beliefs. And being a mother helps us to understand God more as a Father too.
It would be good if the church had a group that connected young mothers. Also, they could assign elder mothers and older ladies to mentor or guide young mothers. They have valuable advice to give.
You mentioned that in motherhood there is often a digging out of past hurts. Can you elaborate on that?
Being a mother forces us to confront a lot of our past hurts, and face our true selves. The impact your parents had on you, both negative and positive, comes out. Sometimes it’s not nice to see, so we go through a kind of breaking process as well.
I see my children testing certain areas in my life. For example, they can pick at my patience, or lack thereof! And this could be linked to my childhood, or how I was being brought up.
I kind of know myself better, like why I am who I am today, through raising my children. I need to deal with past hurts before I keep perpetuating these habits in my own kids. Through it all, God is teaching me to forgive and show grace to my parents, myself and my children.
Christina is a stay-at-home-mom to two daughters, one who is 3 and a half years old and one who is ten months. Her husband, Stephen, is her favorite travel partner and they love exploring the world together. Find out more at her website.