On Being a Mom & Birthdays of Adult Children


It’s a cold January day here in Cambridge and I wake full of memories. 23 years ago today I gave birth to our fourth child, a girl, in a hospital in Cairo, Egypt.

The birth was attended by my friend, Mary – a nurse who acted as advocate, caregiver, and labor coach to many of us who lived in Cairo. My sister-in-law, Terry, had come from the United States with my niece to help after the birth and she cared for all of us well, keeping visitors close or at a distance depending on the day, and making an abundance of homemade bread that met the needs of the post-partum soul in miraculous ways.

Stefanie Sevim Gardner was born tiny at 17 inches long and a bit over six pounds. Her personality showed up quickly and though tiny, we knew she was a force to be reckoned with. At 23 she is still small — and mighty. Her middle name is Turkish for ‘my love’. Coincidentally she was born 9 months following my husband’s first trip to Turkey.

She is creative and passionate, a voice for the homeless and marginalized. As with all our children, it is wonderful and agonizing watching them find their way in the world. But mostly, it’s wonderful.

It was probably good that there was no such thing as blogs when my children were small. There were too many moments that I would have blogged, moments that may have ended up public instead of private.

Today I pause to reflect on parenting – as I do on the occasions of all of my children’s birthdays. If any of us really knew what parenting would be like, we would run to the nearest cave and hide. It is far too overwhelming a job, and we are far too inadequate.

As my friend, Rachel, put it, as moms we are never enough. We are never enough to cope with the surprises and inconsistencies of being moms. We are never enough to be everything we want to be to our children. We are frail, inadequate, far too human, and far too short-sighted. We are never enough.

Rachel says this in an essay published in a new book called Mom Enough – The Fearless Mother’s Heart and Hope: 

“I am not mom enough. Never was, never will be.

But I am on the frontlines of another war. The battles are raging and the casualties could be my children, my husband, or myself. This war isn’t about me being mom enough. This war is about God being “God enough.”

And this is what I think about when I think and pray for my children – but particularly on their birthdays. Is God enough for my kids? Can I believe that God is enough for them? Will he hear them, guard them, comfort them? More so – will they hear him, will they feel his readily offered comfort, will they allow themselves to be guarded by the Almighty God? 

There are, Rachel says, “Mathematics of Grace” and as I think about birthdays and adult children I close with her beautiful words:

“And somehow, in God’s mathematics of grace: Mom (never enough) + God (infinitely enough) = Mom enough.

Mom enough to believe and to be called Chosen, Daughter, Righteous, Honored, Heir, Forgiven, Redeemed.

Trusting in God, because of Christ, I will rise from the graveyard of Mommy War victims, victorious and filled with resurrection power. Loving and living in his perfect enough-ness, I will live to parent for another day. Never mom enough, but filled with the One who is always enough.” quoted from Are You Mom Enough (Mommy Wars) by Rachel Pieh Jones now in book form from Desiring God

Today I am grateful for Adult Children, Birthdays, and most of all – the Mathematics of Grace. 

Blogger’s note: You can get Mom Enough electronically for FREE!! Yes! There are free gifts in this world and this is one of them! Just click here. If you want it in paperback format you can purchase on Amazon by clicking here.



4 thoughts on “On Being a Mom & Birthdays of Adult Children

  1. Moms get called by a lot of names: good, bad, indifferent. Once a mom always a mom. Grace makes all the difference. Thanks Marilyn. Oh, HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO Stefanie, also a young mom. :)


  2. Happy Birwthday, Stefanie! We were in Pakistan that day 23 years ago when you came into the world and into this family. Our youngest granddaughter, no. 16 grandchild, a whole bunch of cousins were waiting to meet you along with their parents, your Aunties and Uncles. We saw you about a month later. God bless you in many special ways today and all through this year.


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