I recently had the most wonderful weekend when I attended the Mum Heart Conference in Newcastle. I was asked to sit on a panel, along with five other women. The audience had opportunity to ask the panelists any question and each woman had a minute or so to respond. I really like the idea of panels as the responses given are always so diverse. It really goes to show that there is no one right way. One of the questions asked was, “Have you found it hardest to be a wife or a mum?

For some, parenthood and mothering may be very natural and intuitive. For others – maybe not so. When I married at 18 years old I was an instant mum to an adorable little five year old boy. My husband’s son. When I chose to say yes to my husband, I also chose to say yes to his son.

And that for me is the crux of my answer. I chose to marry John. I spent time with him, got to know him, enjoyed his company and chose to devote the rest of my life to him. He knows everything about me, has seen me at my worst… and he still loves me! I can be completely relaxed when I’m with him. He doesn’t look at me with judgement or condemnation even when I’m having a ‘flesh moment’. I can snap at John and he, being a mature, gracious adult, chooses to forgive me, and we move on. We enjoy similar hobbies and pastimes. I don’t get his sense of humour, and he sometimes annoys me no end but that’s part of a marriage. When I said ‘I Do‘ I was really saying that I choose John to be the instrument that God would use to refine me, to rub me the wrong way but ultimately, to grow me.

And then we had kids

Now don’t get me wrong. I loved my kids, and I still do. I love them to bits. But it’s different. I was a wife before I was a mum. Whereas I could totally relax with John, I had to be on my guard with this whole parenting gig. I have learned, and am still learning, the art of patience. I’ve learned to think before I speak. We all know that children will pick up on everything we say and question it. I’ve learned that even when I’m silent, my kids are always observing and learning.

With parenting, I’m expected to be the adult. It’s expected that I should be the mature one. I’m responsible for leading and guiding, for teaching. I’m expected to train and discipline. I’m supposed to be the example. The example of what? Everything that I want my children to be. I am also a representative of God. I represent God to my children. When I’m angry, yelling and throwing a hissy fit I am representing God the Father. When I choose to respond in love and gentleness, I am representing the Father. Now that is HUGE.

Mothering requires sacrifice, commitment, time, energy and diligence. All the time. These traits are not something that comes naturally to me. But I have learned to appreciate them, to practice them as it has been my hearts desire to reach my children’s heart with the grace of God, to show them His unfailing love.And so, I have found my role as a mother to be harder than my role as a wife.

What about you? What do you find harder – being a wife or a mother?