Renewing the Joy of Motherhood: A Review of Mere Motherhood

When your newborn baby is laid on your bare chest, crying and messy yet beautiful, do you remember the adrenaline of emotions and hormones that overwhelmed you?

The moment I saw Levi and heard his desperate cry for his mommy, I could only cry in return. This baby who I had feared over his life, this baby who kicked my ribs, this baby who I many times I thought was gone, this baby who overcame my body with squeezing contractions, was finally here and alive. All I could do was cry as I embraced my new baby.

The first two weeks were like sailing on a windy day; I drifted along with ease caring for this new life. I didn’t understand my husband’s exhaustion, I didn’t understand how so many mothers found their newborn’s cries scary. I loved every moment with this baby, and I was more than happy to pace the floors with him and rock him before the morning dawned. 

After those first two weeks, the wind pushing me along vanished without warning. I felt like a creaky, old raft sitting in the middle of the ocean, without any sign of wind, wondering how I was going to make it to land. He screamed and cried more than I thought was possible. He ate every two hours, and took an hour just to nurse. The only way he would sleep or be content was if he was held and walked around the house. I didn’t know how I was going to make it through this thing called motherhood, and worried I had made a mistake.

At one of those points of desperation, a friend recommended a book to me: Mere Motherhood by Cindy Rollins. 

The sub-title summarizes the book perfectly: “Morning Times, Nursery Rhymes, and My Journey Towards Sanctification.” Motherhood is sanctifying, and Cindy Rollins displays this through stories of laughter, tears, and celebration. Reading this book, I felt as if I were sitting next Cindy on my couch sharing the wonders and woes of motherhood, all the while being encouraged that in Christ it is possible to survive.

Cindy doesn’t put herself on a pedestal, looking down at you with a finger pointing out all that you are doing wrong. Cindy puts an arm around you and shares the scars that have shaped her, the sins that have immersed, and the idols God has pried from her through motherhood. In the prologue she writes, 

“As Corrie Ten Boom said, ‘Hold everything in your hands lightly. Otherwise, it hurts when God pries your fingers open.’ He has pried my idols from the grasping fingers, but I would not return to the former days. Those days when I hid my pride even from myself, clinging to my family as if it were my Saviour, loving the gift rather than the Giver.” (p. 4)

This book came as a gentle reminder that I will not be the perfect mother. And my sins aren’t a surprise to God, or my family. But the gift that God gives in the midst of them is the realization they are not my Saviour, and I am not theirs, but Christ alone is.

Though this book is helpful for the empty-nest mothers or the middle-aged mothers, this book came to me as a young mother, a time when, “Your baby needs you every second of the day. You barely have time to read books. It is a time of singular joy. These days are for you to build up the good times: the nature walks and the read-alouds, the family drives and ice cream cones. All the joy you can pack into their small lives and yours” (p. ix). 

Cindy discusses her life before she became a mother, to be a precursor for what would become her love for knowledge that led her to passionately homeschool her children through a mixture of Charlotte Mason and Classical style. She tells us the story of falling in love with her husband, and their journey of becoming parents to nine children, and then homeschooling each of them. She tells of their many moves and new houses, the adventures of raising eight boys, and how homeschooling has been rewarding to both her children and herself. 

When you are weary from motherhood, this book is the gentle breeze needed to continue sailing forward, and the wind to direct your gaze back to the Saviour. 

I became immersed in Cindy’s story of becoming a mother—this book could be found anywhere in the house laying propped open in the middle of a chapter. By reading Cindy’s journey of being a mom, the simple joy of being a mother to Levi was renewed. 

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