My friend, Ness, at Happiness is a Butterfly, has kindly requested me (and the rest of the blogging world) to stop talking about running! OK, Ness, for you – anything. Today, I’m going to talk about something much nearer and dearer to my heart… New mommies!!!
A couple of people I know are just about to have baby #1. One asked me to give some thought to the changes motherhood brought. Holy Cow. I’m so immersed in motherhood now, it’s hard to imagine a time when my life didn’t totally revolve around the needs of 3 little ones. But, now that I think about it…
Reflection on Motherhood #1 – Hunk Hubby and I get into our very first FIGHT!
I say, “FIGHT” because, although we’d already been married for a few years when H6 was born, I would say up to that point the closest we’d come to actually fighting was really more like pouting at each other. I remember Ben coming home late from a Bible study on campus, and I was sitting in the rocking chair with H6 who was maybe a week or two old, who was, shall we say, having a hard time calming down…translation “Screaming at the top of her lungs.”
It had been a long day of figuring out all the different things crying could possibly mean. Mmmm…diaper wet? diaper poopy? diaper dry but scrunched up funny? hungry? thirsty? cold? sock bothering little toe? goop in eye? mommy looked at me funny? shadow is scary? loud noise? not enough noise? need to be rocked? too much rocking?
You get my meaning? I had spent the entire day trying to figure out what in the world this new baby wanted, needed, preferred, required, liked… only to have all my efforts rewarded with fresh bouts of crying.
Looking back, H6 didn’t actually cry all that much. I just had never been around crying up until this point and every whimper sounded like nails on a chalk board to me. Now I’m so used to it, sometimes the kids will come up to me and say, “MOM! I totally biffed in the driveway! Didn’t you hear me screaming bloody murder??? Look at the gash in my knee! Mom, please, please. Give me a band aid!”
Then I turn around from whatever I’m doing and say, “Oh my gosh!! What happened to you sweetie? I didn’t hear a thing!”
Anyway, back to my story. Ben came home and we started talking about our days. He was always great about listening to every gritty detail of my movements from naps to nursing to diapering to bathing. The next day was Saturday. I had big plans…to do nothing. I was just longing for a day to share the load with someone – for a few hours of NOT being solely responsible for the welfare of another, as cute as my little monkey was. (And, oh, she was cute…)
Well, Ben had already packed his schedule full of appointments with guys on campus! He had figured it was prime time to meet with guys since, and here is the kicker – I WASN’T AVAILABLE TO DO ANYTHING WITH HIM SINCE I NEEDED TO BE HOME WITH THE BABY!!!
To be fair, he honestly wasn’t trying to be stupid. He seriously just figured I would be busy, so he was free to find other things to do. Um, let me describe the scene for you after he uttered these little plans…
In a fit of hormone induced rage, I threw a plastic hanger at Ben – chucked it would be a better way of describing it. Hucked it, chucked it, wished it to stick into his eyeball, hoped it would lodge in his heart, kind of thing.
And here’s what it boiled down to. Ben still had so much freedom – to plan his day, to make make appointments with people (other than the pediatrician), to make lists of things to accomplish, to schedule time alone with God, etc. And although he of course repented of his folly and stayed home with me that Saturday, or maybe we worked to find some sort of compromise, what was really at the heart of my rage was not that he had plans, but what my plans were boiling down to.
(Side note: Ben is the most generous, helpful, hands on father I know – but you know, you have to have an antagonist in a good story, so… No hard feelings, honey?)
My plans, it seemed in that moment, included taking care of someone else every single day (and night!!) for the next 18 years, at least! That was totally overwhelming and unwelcome. My needs suddenly came second (if not third, fourth, or dead last) forever. My selfish heart said, “NO WAY!!!”
I’m so thankful H6 can’t remember those early days, because as many times as I held her, snuggled with her, loved on her, there were many moments when I secretly wished I could turn back time and not be a mother. I resented her presence, and all her needs.
But you know, it was all part of the plan. Her plan to melt my heart into one big mushy lump of mommy love. And God’s plan to expose me to the wonderful benefits there are in caring for another, in putting yourself second, third, fourth, and dead last.
It wasn’t long before I fell in love with my baby girl. (That’s also when I ditched all my parenting books that said when babies cry they are just being like Jesus when He was on the cross and cried out, “Father, why have your forsaken me,” and obviously, the Father had not abandoned Jesus and was just letting him suffer for his own good, so therefore we shouldn’t answer the cries of our children because sometimes suffering is good for them.” But that’s a post for another day…)
It also wasn’t long before I began to really enjoy being at home with her. It was so much fun, we decided to have another baby when H6 was just 6 months old. Well, maybe that’s not exactly what happened, but that’s a post for another day too…
Anyway, my point for new moms…
Taking on the role of caretaker is huge. It can come on slowly, or you can be steamrolled by it’s reality on day one, like I was. Maybe it takes two babies to feel it completely, or maybe it takes one day with one baby, like me. Maybe you’ve longed for this role all your life and it’s the fulfillment of all your dreams, and maybe, like me, you didn’t know it was until you’d wrestled yourself free from your other, much more self centered ones. Maybe you knew the minute you saw your baby, here was God’s greatest gift – one that would soften, stretch, and strengthen your soul like nothing else – but maybe like me, the softening and stretching and strengthening hurt at first.
Whatever the path, motherhood is the kind of wonderful that hurts to talk about it. It brings the kind of tears of joy that start in a burning heart, tighten up your throat, and stream down your face – all while you smile.