When your child is born, they are completely dependent on you. And as a mother, God gives you a deep urge and motivation to care for them. I remember when mine were babies waking up a split second before they cried. It happened many times.
Maternal instinct. One website uses the words ‘gravitational pull’ and ‘drive’ to describe it. It’s that overwhelming feeling that you need to care for this small person; you need to provide for and protect them.
This is a good thing. I believe God has designed women to feel this. It’s a reflection of his own character:
“Can a woman forget her nursing child, that she should have no compassion on the son of her womb? Even these may forget, yet I will not forget you.” Isaiah 49:15
But maternal instinct doesn’t mean you have ultimate control over your child. This is a hard lesson to learn as your children grow. At first, you control almost everything because you have to. They need you for just about everything except breathing. But slowly, they grow up and they learn how to do more and more for themselves. Your influence is strong but you realize how little real control you actually had in the first place. It’s one thing to feed and diaper a person. It’s a whole different ballgame to try and control their heart. That cannot be done.
The gravitational pull I feel to protect and provide for my children is still strong even though the youngest will graduate high school this year. I desire the best for them, but can’t give them the things that are most important. They have to learn and suffer and grow on their own.
If I stopped there I would be tempted to despair. Fear and despair often knock on the door of my heart. But praise God for what he is showing me in his Word! After Genesis 3, there is a lot of mess, even in the people God has chosen for himself. Abram and Sarai use Hagar to try to fulfill God’s promise on their own. But God is gracious. Isaac and Rebekah play favorites with their children and try to control God’s blessing. But God is gracious. Laban cheats Jacob into marrying Leah before Rachel. But God is gracious. Joseph’s brothers throw him into a pit to get rid of him. But God is gracious. All throughout these stories you see God’s sovereign hand and his compassion in all the details.
So don’t take the gift of the maternal instinct and mistakenly believe that you have ultimate control over your children. Only God is sovereign and he is full of compassion and grace. The maternal instinct is a gift to teach you about the compassionate heart of God.