I was a figure skater when I was younger, and in figuring skating, the very first lesson you’re taught—whether you’re three years old or seventy—is to fall. And then how to get back up.
Falling is natural to us. Falling well isn’t. Neither is getting back up. But it is the most important lesson a young skater will learn, because you can’t skate without falling. The next time you see a figure skater at the Olympics, remember this: there is no exaggerating the amount of falling it took to be in that spotlight.
Being a mother is kind of like that. Having our first baby is like going out on the ice for the first time. We fall.
We get angry when it’s two in the morning and we just fed the baby an hour ago. We cringe when our husband disciplines our sweet, adorable little one. We’re lazy and don’t just go change the dirty diaper so that he doesn’t end up with a diaper rash. We aren’t diligent to discipline the little tantrums at home, and then we’re devastated when they throw a gigantic one in public. We’re discontent with the repetitiveness of the work that God has given us to do. We complain about giving ourselves constantly to these helpless ones. And those are just the ones that pop first into my mind as I sit to write.
We fall. And it’s hard to get back up.
But it’s our God given responsibility to get back up—and to get back up in the right way.
In skating, it’s comical to watch someone try to get up on the ice who has not been taught. For some reason, the natural instinct is to get up like a crab—arms behind you—and then somehow to expect you’re going to muscle your way upright. I’ve done it myself, and I’ve watched people do it over and over and over again.
Try doing it right now on solid ground. Go ahead. It’s not impossible, but it’s not easy.
But now imagine trying to do it on top of slick ice with sharp blades on the bottom of your feet. It’s not going to happen.
We must learn to get on our hands and knees, lean ever so slightly forward, use our leg and core strength, and last but not least, whether we are just learning or have many seasons of experience under our belt, we need a helping hand there to physically pick us up, to correct us, to cheer us on, or all of the above.
It’s counterintuitive, because it feels vulnerable and a little scary. But that’s the only way to do it.
When we fall as moms, it’s easy and natural to try to get back up like a crab. We try to muscle through things from what we think is a position of strength. And we try to do it entirely on our own.
We’re afraid to be vulnerable and to rely on the strength of others. And so we just sit there. Like crabs. Not able to move or get up, but trying really hard and wearing ourselves out.
Then, if we do manage to get up, we are plagued by the fear of falling. The memory, not only of the pain of falling, but of the struggle of getting back on our feet can be crippling.
Fear is common to us as fallen women, and that is especially true for us as mothers. And there are many cares and concerns with children that could seem to justify our fears, except God’s word says no, we are not to fear.
We’re going to fall. Falling is inevitable. There is no skating without falling, and there is no mothering without falling. We will fall, and we may not fear.
Moms need a lot of help, especially new moms in those first few months. It is humbling. It can be humiliating. And it’s tempting to not ask for that help. It’s tempting to think you can pull yourself up by your bootstraps.
But that’s a lie. And it’s a lie that will leave you feeling isolated and alone. Feeling like there’s something much better out there to do than be a mom.
God says, “Young women [are] to love their husbands, to love their children, to be sensible, pure, workers at home, kind, being subject to their own husbands, so that the word of God will not be dishonored” (Titus 2:4).
But that’s not the whole verse. The actual command is for older women “to encourage the young women to love their husbands, to love their children, to be sensible, pure, workers at home, kind, being subject to their own husbands, so that the word of God will not be dishonored.”
God has given us each other. He has given us mothers in the faith to teach us how to fall, and how to get back up on our feet well. And to be there to hold our hands and encourage us as we do.