In 2007 the Justine Miller, or Justine Brotherton, that had existed for the previous 30 years some how disappeared, in an instant my identity changed, how I felt about myself changed, my purpose for living changed and the things about myself that I considered important changed. It was nobody's fault, I became a Mum, and after a long, emotionally draining IVF struggle, as I held that little pink bundle in my arms I promised myself and God that I would love this person with all my strength, every day of my life.
"Every generous act of giving, with every perfect gift, is from above, coming down from the Father of light" James 1:17. I see both our children as perfect gifts from God, I see my Heavenly Father in their sleeping faces, I hear Him in their laugh, I see His goodness in their kindness and capacity to love, and mostly I feel undeserving of such gifts, I look at them and wonder why I got so lucky. Subconsciously I feel how I love my children is a direct reflection on how I love God. If I don't love them enough it means I am not grateful for the gift God gave me and I am letting Him down. In my conscious mind I know this is not true, but I have basically devoted the past 6 years of my life completely to the well-being of our children. I wanted to be the best Mum I could be (P.S. I still do not know what this means).
I do not want to interfere with the wonderful human beings the girls have been created to be, but I know they still need guidance and look to us as their parents to decipher wrong from right. I have attended parenting workshops, read books, blogs and articles on the importance of play, attachment, early brain development, nutrition, spiritual growth etc.
For six years I have played, listened, sung, photographed, documented, danced, created, painted, moulded, anything that helps them to express themselves, explore their creativity and develop skills. We have gone to swimming, gymnastics, dancing, speech therapy,to ensure they get enough stimulation. We bought 60 acres so they could explore and be free and let their minds expand and not be limited by fences or walls and so they would be physically active. They ride motorbikes and horses, pushbikes and sometimes help drive the car or tractor. Fun yes but exhausting, occasionally I get in the car and just drive off and for 20 minutes pretend I am free from the responsibility of caring and guiding them. I feel perpetually guilty that I am messing them up, they seem so wild and free and out of control sometimes, actually most of the time.
Now, for the first time in six years, with the girls going to Kindergarten and School, I have to let go of my identity solely revolving around their fulltime care. I will let go of their sweet little hands as they walk through the gates of their prospective schools and I will be left wondering 'what now'. I will have 5 days a fortnight to explore what it is I want to do, but what the flip is it I want to do!!!! Emily Freeman in her book "A Million Little Ways" says 'Do you desperately fear you have nothing to offer the world but secretly hope you're wrong"? Ummm, YES.
As the years pass by and the girls become increasingly independent there will be more time for me to do the things I love, pursuing what I am passionate about. I get heart palpitations just thinking out it, a mixture of excitement and fear. Adele Basheer says "The best thing about starting at the beginning is you can only go forward", so this will be my mantra for a little while.
I know I will never regret my choice to spend so much time with the girls when they were small, and every moment spent with them is a blessing to be enjoyed and cherished, but I also have to give myself permission to live my own individual dreams now too :-)
“The more we let God take us over, the more truly ourselves we become - because He made us. He invented us. He invented all the different people that you and I were intended to be. . .It is when I turn to Christ, when I give up myself to His personality, that I first begin to have a real personality of my own.” C.J. Lewis