Tuesday, July 21, 2015

12 Lessons in 12 Months of Motherhood

"the day a baby is born, a mother is also born.  she never existed before.  the woman did, but the mother, never.  a mother is something absolutely new." --Rajneesh

As the days dwindle and we approach my baby's one year birthday, I am reflecting on what this past year as a mother has taught me.

#1) Motherhood is not for the faint of heart. It is the HARDEST "job" I have ever done. As a mother, you're essentially "on call" 24/7---and that's just to care for your child. You still need to keep your home in somewhat of an order, the laundry clean, dinner cooked and cleaned up, etc. It. Is. Exhausting.

#2) Motherhood is one of the BEST things that has ever happened to me. Yes, as previously mentioned, it is the hardest thing I've ever done. BUT, it is also the sweetest and most rewarding. The bond a mother shares with her baby is unlike any other. Experiencing life growing inside you during pregnancy and then holding your baby in your arms, nurturing him or her, feeding him or her, cuddling him or her. It is unexplainable. You never truly comprehend the amount of love your own mother feels for you until you have a baby of your own.

#3) I have the utmost respect for single mothers. Y'ALL. I seriously do not know how single mamas do it. The Lord graces them with a supernatural and divine strength and energy. There are days when I am counting down the minutes until my husband walks in the door, just so I can have a 10 minute break---I can't imagine the toll it takes on you. I have been lifting you up in prayer especially during this last year!

#4) I can function on less sleep than I thought. I LOVE sleep. My husband used to tell people it was my favorite hobby or pastime (ha). We all know, once you have a baby, THAT goes out the window. Gone are the days of sleeping in (what is that?). You start out your journey of motherhood up every 2-3 hours at minimum, then you go all day and MAYBE catch a few minutes of shut eye, then you're up doing it all over again. I'm here to tell you, somehow you just do it. The Lord helps us and you adjust and you actually don't mind the 1AM and 4AM feedings (even though you didn't go bed until 11PM); and as soon as you hear your baby cry at 2:30AM, you're instantly awake and run to comfort him---and then once he goes back to a blissful sleep, you lay there for the next 15-20 minutes (at least) praying that the Lord watches over him and protects him while he sleeps and watching his little chest rise and fall on the monitor. Less sleep is only temporary. Eventually you get your nights back.

#5) It passes in the blink of an eye. SERIOUSLY. People tell you that as soon as you have kids, time goes by even faster and they are absolutely right. The amount of growth and development that babies go through the first year is astounding. Mind-blowing. Live in the moment---the dirty diapers and the feedings and the teething and the laughter and the discovery. Your child is only that age ONE time---don't wish it away.

#6) Doing parenthood with my husband has made me love him even more. Watching his face light up with awe and wonderment when Holt was born, staring into his tiny little face, examining every inch of his tiny little body, comforting Holt when he cried, changing dirty diapers, getting up with me for every night feeding that first month, working hard to provide for our little family, being intentional and playing with him, teaching him words, encouraging him to roll over and crawl and walk. I get teary-eyed just writing this. He truly is the BEST father and I feel so grateful and blessed to raise children with him.

#7) Take a break. Leave your child (or children) with someone you fully trust and get away either with friends or your spouse. Is it hard? The HARDEST. Is it necessary? Absolutely! My husband and I have left Holt two different times for 4-5 days each during this year. And you know what? I rested, relaxed, spent quality time with my husband, and everyone survived. Now I couldn't wait to get back home to my little man, but it was just the recharge I needed to be the best mom (and wife) I can be.

#8) You will worry on a daily basis that you are failing as a mother. Mom guilt is a real thing. You will feel guilty about accidentally hitting your kid's head on the car door (don't judge--it will happen) or guilty that you quit breastfeeding even when you had no control over the fact your body just quit supplying milk, or guilty that you're not feeding your baby the most nutritious, organic foods available.  You will worry that they aren't peeing/pooing enough, that they haven't had enough tummy time, that you don't have enough clothes on them (or maybe too many clothes), or is his fever too high and should I call the doctor? Heck, you'll worry yourself sick and feel REAL guilty for wanting to take a break from your beautiful, bouncing baby (see #7)!  Don't give in to the worry and anxiety and mom guilt. Don't let it rob you of the joy of motherhood. Your baby will survive….and so will you!

#9) It's hard to have a social life with little ones. Once you start having babies, really until the youngest reaches about 4 or 5 (theoretically speaking, since I currently don't have experience with this age), your schedule and life revolves around this little tiny human. You enter this weird, alternate reality where it's easier to do lunch with people than dinner because your kid goes to bed at 6:30 at night and if they go to bed later than that, just kiss the next day goodbye because you'll be home with a cranky, sleep-deprived child and you'll just want to pull your hair out. To all my single friends and married-without-kids friends, please don't take it personal when I tell you I can't go to dinner and a movie. It's just a temporary season I'm in, and one day you'll be in it too and you'll understand.

#10) Play-dates are necessary to maintain your sanity. Trust me on this one. Having time to talk to another adult and just talk about girl stuff (Jesus, motherhood, parenting, movies, food, etc) is so refreshing! Plus it is great for your kids to play with other kids in different settings---it's a win-win!

#11) Motherhood is sanctifying. I just thought I realized how selfish I was when I got married. Not even close! Becoming a mother requires a level of selflessness that is HARD. I never understood my mom continually putting herself last on a daily basis. I feel like my days are reduced down to: wake up, eat, play, change poopy diapers, sleep, repeat. Sometimes I have a selfish attitude and have a pity party for myself. I would much rather spend money on clothes/jewelry for myself or getting my nails done or travel or going to the movies than diapers or rash creams or baby necessities. But, the Lord grows me and shows me my selfishness and helps me to prioritize and put my family first. But did I mention it's HARD?

And lastly…

#12) The love you will have for your child is overwhelming. It's completely foreign, yet natural and familiar all at the same time. At times your heart will almost feel "heavy" because it is filled to the brim and spilling over with love for this tiny little human you helped create. You will cry for no reason other than you're just staring into their little face and they smile at you for the first time. You will cry every time you watch a movie or TV show and a baby is born because you will instantly be transported to when YOUR baby was born and you saw them and heard their cry for the very first time. You will read mommy blogs and birth stories and cry. When your child laughs for the first time, when they crawl or say their first word or take their first steps, you'll tear up because you love them so much and you're so stinkin' proud. Motherhood gives us a glimpse of the love God has for His children--how wide and how deep is His love for us. It is the same for our children--no matter what Holt, or any of my other children, do, I will unconditionally love them for the rest of my life.

Motherhood is a privilege. It's a joy. It is a ministry. And I wouldn't trade ANYTHING in this world for it.

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