Reading Time: 3 mins

Unexpected Joy of Motherhood

Reading Time: 3 mins

This is an excerpt from “Encouragement for Motherhood, Devotional Writings on the Work of Christ” edited by Katie Koplin (1517 Publishing, 2024) available for purchase today.

“Satisfy us in the morning with your steadfast love, That we may rejoice and be glad all our days. Make us glad for as many days as you have afflicted us, and for as many years as we have seen evil. Let your work be shown to your servants, And your glorious power to their children. Let the favor of the Lord our God be upon us, and establish the work of our hands upon us: yes, establish the work of our hands” (Ps. 90:14‑17).

The work of motherhood is not what I expected. Joy is not found where I expected to find it. I expected planning activities and fun would seamlessly flow from my bones, bringing immense joy to me and my children. 

After plans failed, yet again, a critique from my daughter summed up what I thought motherhood would be: “When I’m a mom I am going to get up in the morning, ask my kids what they want to do, and then we are going to do that thing.” 

I snippily replied with: “Good for you. I hope your children get up every morning and say, ‘Let’s go to Grandma Katie’s house.’”

I was just like my daughter. My vision of motherhood was as simplified as hers. I envisioned being the trophy wife who obviously worked out. My first born would fall asleep each night hearing the love story of his parents. I was always going to have a first-aid kit and be able to nurse each of their ailments. My meals were going to reflect those of a nutritionist. Our home was going to run so efficiently clocks could be set by school dropoff. Keeping a house clean seemed so simple that mine was going to smell like a lilac field and glisten like mother-of-pearl. My plan was to always be busy. I would purchase all the right things at all the right times to always ensure a well-padded savings account. My plan was to do all of it on my own. 

Despite all my dreams, motherhood did not begin as I had planned nor does my day-to-day function as I envisioned. 

Motherhood began with a one-night stand. I was not anyone’s wife. I moved back into my parents’ home. The initial work of motherhood was navigating a parenting relationship with someone I barely knew; this work was not even on my list. My dreams of always being in tune with my children’s health ended with a week-long stay in a children’s hospital for my one-month-old. 

I eventually married, moved out of my parents’ home, and had more children. Marriage and having more children did not magically make me the mother I had planned to be. The work of motherhood often holds frustration, not joy. Our home is rarely picked up, and we often play the game of “what is reeking and where is it coming from?” Our meals are more often beige than a vibrant rainbow, and spaghetti is on a weekly rotation. No one is setting a clock according to the Koplin family’s schedule. We come flying in with backpacks half zipped while my phone dings telling me the cell phone bill is past due. 

I’m not the mother I thought I would be.

I don’t find joy, as I expected to, in the work of motherhood. Yet joy abounds. 

Joy does not come from the work I do. Joy comes from the work of Christ. Joy comes from Christ working in my life to form a co-parenting relationship that works. Joy comes from discovering all I lack in each stage of parenting and learning. 

I am loved despite myself and despite how many things I have accomplished in a day. Joy comes from apologizing to my kids and knowing grace abounds. 

Joy comes from being reminded of the finished work of Christ as I look at all the unfinished work of motherhood. We have joy because we have assurance in the work of Christ. 

When it comes time for me to hold the title of Grandma Katie, I pray I will get to look at my daughter and daughters-in-law and be honest about my failures as a mother. Hopefully our conversations will not end on points of my failure, but in the joy found in the work of Christ. My hope is to have honest conversations about the struggles of motherhood and where joy is found, the work of Christ for us and our children.

Order Encouragement for Motherhood