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Mother First, Wife Second? Or Wife First, Mother Second?

Updated: Oct 18, 2019

We cruised down Broadway, onto 2nd, then onto Church Street. Neon lights and cowboy-hatted tourists adorned the landscape as we conversed about everything and nothing.

We hadn’t been dating too long, so it’s cool how easy it was to talk about all of it. I could listen to his melodious voice, his perfect classy Southern accent, his dry humor...forever. I was secretly hoping I would. Forever.

He knew I was a history major, so when he asked what I wanted to do with my life, I balked.

How could I share my highest, deepest, secretest ambition with this guy I was secretly falling for?

How could I say "A mother and a wife" when we were still only officially "friends?" (Not that there's not a higher status you could ever reach than friends. But anyway.) Awkward!

After an embarrassed silence, he cleared his throat. That velvet deep voice. “Is it, um, a wife and mother?”

Wait, what?

Wife first, then mother? When every part of me is looking forward to being a mommy, you're asking if my first dream is to be a wife?

Well, duh. Yes. Of course, I SHOULD want to be a "wife and mother" in that order, considering logic and all that. Somehow, though, in my brain it had always been mother and wife.

Motherhood was the ultimate, and being a wife sounded okay too.

I gulped. “Yep! That’s it.” That's when it dawned on me how far I had to go before I was ready for either.

From that moment on, I made it my goal to change those priorities. To learn to be a good wife first. To not give my future children more of my heart than my future husband would get. To develop myself as a bride, even when I could. not. wait. to be a mommy.

(Okay. I understand this may sound weird. Just know these are the kinds of thoughts that go through the minds of future mothers of many.)

By the day of our wedding, I was ready - I thought. My goal was to do this man good and not evil all the days of my life. Even if God never gave us children, I would be happy with this man.

And it was true. Until our first child went to heaven early. And I could not stop crying.

Toddlers jumping off the steps at church? My eyes leaked like crazy.

Visiting missionaries with stairstep kids singing "Jesus loves me?" Silent sobs.

Passing a lady in a hallway cuddling her newborn? You don’t even want to know. I feel so bad she witnessed my waterworks as I bounced out to bawl in private.

And then David told me. It was time. “You need to stop being so sad.”

Okay. What?

Did you just say dry up? When I lost my baby?!

And I had to decide.

Wife? Or Mother?

Reluctantly, I dried up. I swallowed the gulps and forced smiles.

And he was right. He needed me to be his first. He needed a happy bride. And would you believe it?

David Alan was months away.

A young lady once asked me if I would have had David Alan if I’d got mad at David when he told me to stop crying. The question made my blood run cold. I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t have him. Maybe none of them.

Scary stuff. Thanks to Jesus for changing my heart when I couldn't! For making me happy when I'd wanted to scream at somebody.

I wonder how our picture albums would look different if I'd refused to smile? Now it's hard to find a single picture without cute kids. Both of us. Covered in kids.

Unfortunately, it’s not something that goes away, this urge to let my husband take second fiddle to toddlers. But for all our good, for my own sanity and happiness, I need to think of myself as a wife. THEN a mother.

Because the best thing I can do for my children is love their father.

(And the best thing I can do for myself is smile. Which is loads easier when I'm in love.)

Have you ever struggled to put your husband ahead of your kids? Have you also found that your kids are happier when you do? I'd love to hear your experience!

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