Motherhood: In Losing Ourselves We Grow

I got married young, at nineteen, after just a year of college. I hadn’t expected to find my husband so soon in my life, but I was thrilled to meet him and felt great joy in our marriage and our plans for our family. Others were not always encouraging. 

Soon after my engagement, I received an email from a friend who is not of our faith. She was convinced that I was throwing away my potential. She warned me I'd lose myself when I got married. "And then will come children," she wrote, "And that's a whole other level of losing yourself." She was sure I was making the biggest mistake of my life. She was right in one point: being a wife and a mother does involve losing yourself. It involves sacrifice. I have put aside many of the things I would like to be doing in order to give myself more fully to my family and the children who have been born to us – nine of them in thirteen years.

I have lost myself, but it is hardly the calamity she worried about. She didn't know -- how could she? -- that it is in losing ourselves that we grow.

“For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it.” (Matthew 16:25)

Sometimes people gasp when they realize how many children I have, "You're one busy lady!" "What a lot of work," "You've got your hands full." "How do you do it?" or my favorite, "but isn't that . . . hard?"

It IS hard. But here's the secret: Everything worth doing involves sacrifice. Everything worth doing is going to be hard. Some things as a mother and wife get easier as I learn and grow, and as my capacity to serve grows as well. But there are always new trials, new levels of exhaustion, new parenting challenges to face and overcome.

I've long since lost contact with that friend who wrote me with such concern. I'm sure if she saw me now, she would just shake her head, unable to fathom why I would choose this path for my life. She might lecture me, again, about what I have given up.

And I would talk with her about what I've gained: an opportunity to see how God can make more out of my life than I can. A chance to experience the great joy of a happy family and to feel greater love for my children and husband than I knew was possible. The blessing of using the small talents God has given me to serve the children He has graciously leant to my care. I have felt a closeness to God as I have become a partner with Him in bearing children and nurturing them. I have felt great peace that surpasseth understanding (see Phillipians 4:7), and I have grown in ways that I never expected.

Because of what we know about the soul of man, that each child comes with their spirit fully intact, we know that life is a beautiful gift from God. Yet often, especially in this world, becoming a parent is a miracle that we take for granted. One of my favorite lullabies states this so beautifully:

It's the same old story 
Yes it's nothing new, 
Just a gift from heaven 
Just a dream come true. 
In a flash of glory, 
In a ray of light, 
Welcome to the world, 
That will hold you tight. 
(Nicolette Larson, Welcome to the World)

It is the same old story. People have been having babies for thousands of years. As one crabby woman told me cooly when I announced my seventh pregnancy, “been there, done that.” Yet each time it is also something entirely new and beautiful. The child a new mother carries is experiencing this life for the very first time. If we only recognize what it is we are doing, then we can rejoice and exult in our new “gift from heaven,” believing it is a “dream come true.”

Too many of us take our journey into motherhood for granted. Sometimes those whose hands have been empty understand better than any of us just what a miracle it is. In her book, Finding Grace, Donna VanLiere tells of long, desert years of infertility, aching for a child. When she adopts her first child, she says of their first evening together: "Many women in China approach adoptive parents and say, 'Lucky baby. Lucky baby." I had heard it in the halls as some of the babies were being delivered and Troy and I talked about it as we watched Gracie sleep. To me, 'lucky' has connotations of magic, sparkling leprechauns, a wink, and rolling dice. 'Luck didn't have anything to do with it,' I said, whispering to her. She was a gift. We had held out our arms for years; we had held them out till they ached and our bodies shook under the strain. Perhaps that is when a gift is most valued and loved. God is excessive, even reckless, when it comes to grace but it is never wasted and I wonder how often it is acknowledged."

It is a significant and wonderful thing to be graced with a child. It’s the same old story come new again, a gift from heaven.

By Christina Bartholomew

Christina is a lovely example of a faithful mother, who places her family at the heart of her own life. I love her clarity in how she understands and accepts, with every fiber of her being, her role and responsibility to be a  Mother in Israel. I have enjoyed getting to know her, and deeply respect her desire to raise up a righteous generation, by teaching her children, diligently, the doctrines of Christ. The Family: A Proclamation to the World, and the doctrine contained therein, is clearly at the center of her family, and happiness is clearly the result.

Make sure to visit Chocolate on My Cranium or Mormon Mommy Blogs to see what's happening over there during our Family Proclamation Celebration!


Kathryn Skaggs

Meme: My grandson : )
Photos: Christina

Christina Bartholomew writes of her family, her faith, and her life in the center of her large family at Hands Full and Loving It!


  1. Bravo for Christina! Motherhood is crazy - crazy awesome, and crazy hard. :) I wouldn't give up my partnership with God in bringing sweet spirits to this world for anything!


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