Motherhood didn't come naturally to me. When Sophie was born I remember looking down at her and thinking "Why are they letting me take her home? I have no idea what I'm doing! Don't I need a license for this?" We could hardly work the car seat properly let alone figure out a newborn's sleeping patterns, decode their cries--all of this running on a few hours of sleep each night. The nine months of preparation evaporated in front of me as I stared at the reality in front of me.
I didn't get the glamor of motherhood. I had dreamed of days of pushing a sweet cooing child about in her new travel system (yes, you need a whole new set of terminology upon parenthood), dressing her up in cute outfits, feasting on our family love day after day. But THIS?! This was work. Grueling work. And nothing seemed to go by the book. The first nine months life passed by in a blur. A sleepless blur. Moms would speak in loving tones of bonding with their babies during nursing...I simply dreamed of the day I could start using formula and get a full night's sleep. I loved my little girl fiercely and would have given my life for her, but the day to day was hard.
Did I just not have what it took to be a mom? How on earth did my mom have six...and survive?
It's hard to be open about our inadequacies and struggles about being a mom when you look around and it seems everyone else has it all together and is riding gloriously along that blissful road of motherhood. You look with admiration and wonder where you took the wrong turn.
It's true, some women are more prepared than others (yours truly) for the awesome responsibility of being mom. But no matter where you're at in the beginning of this maze called Parenthood, I think it's a learning curve for every woman. It's a tremendous life event that God uses to shape us and change us.
He teaches us lessons of humility. Maybe we take pride in our abilities as a mother, we strive to have our kids look good in front of others (after all they are a reflection of us, right?), we're sure we have the best discipline and training method (and my Johnnie listens, let me tell you), and, by jove, did you see those wild kids running around at church? If my Suzie did that...
And then we are humbled. He reminds us that we are not making trophies to set on our shelf of accomplishments. We are broken instruments, full of failures and weakness, but pressing on joyfully(!) because His strength is made perfect in our weakness.
He teaches us to surrender. Surrender my control to His perfect control. Surrender everything from their physical health, relationships, learning problems, chipped teeth, hurt feelings to their souls. He calls me to plant the seeds in their heart and trust the growth to Him.
He teaches us to serve. There is little time for yourself when young ones are needing food, naps, clean diapers, playtime, reading time, bedtime, etc. It's probably especially that way when you have young kids and everyone is dependant on you, but it seems that it's a lifestyle for moms, even those with older kids. The types of needs change but the need for training, loving, spending time, guiding...that always seems to stay constant.
He uses this hard job of being a mom to pour out blessings and joy. Even though it might not always be in ways we expected. I can't say I've ever had the blessing of enjoying the newborn stage. I can't say that I love being pregnant (it is with GREAT relish that I pack maternity clothes away!).
But I can say that my life has never been so filled with joy and my heart has never been so full.
Full--when I see my oldest daughter pouring milk in her brother's cereal bowl; when I see her kiss Evie's chubby cheeks; when she confides to me her most intimate and secret thoughts; when I see her seeking after God.
Full--when I hear my two-year-old son shouting "I love you and I'll see you in the morning!!!" for the tenth time from his bed; when Evie leans over with her big tummy, beaming smile, and curly hair to give a morning kiss; when we sink into bed at night and thank God for each one.
Motherhood is not bliss. It's hard work. And I wouldn't trade it for anything in the world.