I can’t say I am a particularly “emotional” person. It has never been a quality I have been able to possess, even though it would be really handy at times. There are definitely times when I envy women who are able to read a Hallmark card and start weeping, or hear devastating news and are overwrought with empathy. They make it look so easy! Somehow, this gene just never made it my way.
Let me put it this way: I can sit through “The Notebook” without any tears.
When Ben and I decided to have kids, we really spent years discussing it…to the best of our ability. Neither of us have older sisters, aunts available, cousins who have done this before. We were pretty on our own, so we just bought as many books as possible.
And man there are a lot of books out there. Just shelves and shelves and shelves of parenting books available…which means most of them are weird, some of them are helpful, a few are interesting, and maybe one we found that we really liked.
When we first got pregnant, there wasn’t a whole bunch to do, honestly. We went to all the doctor’s appointments, I got all the blood work done, we had all the genetic testing taken care of. Everything was fine! I mean, within reason. I had a raging case of PUPP, which is hives upon hives all over your body. For months. But it went away, and all was good.
We weren’t really nervous, all in all. On one hand we had 9 months to adjust to the idea of having a baby, and that is a long time to wrap your heads around this; and that time is helpful. We went to a few baby classes our health care provided, we got a few books. When it came time to have the baby, it was pretty easy. Easy like, you feed them, get them some sleep, burp them, give them baths and stare at their adorable faces for hours and hours (this is normal…I’m pretty sure!).
The panic was not what I expected, though.
This wasn’t a panic of, “the baby isn’t burping, oh no!” This was a, “Please God in Heaven don’t take her from me…don’t let her heart stop beating, don’t let her lungs stop breathing, don’t let her brain stop functioning. Please let her keep living and I swear I will do anything.”
And I couldn’t sleep for months because of this panic. I could not lay in bed with my baby in her bassinet next to me, sleeping, and let myself relax. I was terrified if I was not awake, or alert, or constantly watching her, that something terrible would happen.
This kind of panic is nothing like anything I have ever experienced. It is a long tap root to the depths of your being that pulls every ounce of energy from you. Parenthood is something so grand that you cannot put it into words. Every parent who has sat by their child’s bedside and prayed for hours on end that a fever would break knows what this feels like. The parent who receives a diagnosis for their child which will impact the rest of their lives knows. Every parent who watches their child enter through the school gates on their own, who begs God for mercy for the doctors to find a cure for the incurable, every parent who looks over their sleeping child at night and worries about what tomorrow might bring.
I really don’t remember reading about this in any book.
The other day my curly 2 year old was riding our dog and she was in heaven. Fortunately our dog is cool with it, but she just loves riding our dog! It is absolutely hilarious to watch.
Recently I had to tell my 8 year old son not to rappel the walls (so proud!).
Our 5 year old is reading already, which is amazing to me. He is the one with the twinkle in his smile and a cackle in his giggle that we kind of have to keep an eye on….but he is so loving. He will yell across the room, “I LOVE YOU MOM!!” because he feels like it.
Today my 4 year old princess daughter came outside to watch me trellis my grapevines, and she walked back and forth gasping, “oh Mom, this is so beautiful!”
And my 10 year old daughter has the tenacity of a war general and the heart of a dove. Her strength and sensitive heart are things I could only hope for her.
We take the kids hiking, swimming in lakes, camping, we take them to the shooting range with us, they love riding go karts. Right now the kids are all facing Dad at a battle on Quake in the other room.
Every kid comes out different, but they are a part of you…so you’ll know your kid better than they know themself because you’ll see yourself in things they do, and it’s just fascinating.
These are the extreme highs during the day where it just feels like your heart is going to explode from joy.
And then there are extreme lows when you feel yourself being crushed.
This week has been extremely difficult for Nova in school. The dyslexia will come and go, and when it comes it’s pretty frustrating for both of us. I’ve been trying to work with her one on one all week, and you kind of hope that by Friday things will have improved…but today was still frustrating. So I have just been trying to rethink things this afternoon, trying not to lash out, etc. I just get so worried about her learning because some periods it seems like we are doing great, but then weeks like this come and I can’t even figure out where things went wrong.
This is very typical of our schooling and very normal with dyslexia. There are waves that come and go, and you just have to roll with the waves. Some days she can memorize a whole book, and some days she has trouble remembering the math we have been working on.
So, the kids go to martial arts twice a week and that gives me some good time to read the Bible. Today I was going through 1 Peter again, and really…everything I was reading was just God telling me to be patient because he is patient. Have hope in the future because the future is His. Lay all my anxieties on Him because Satan is always prowling like a lion in order to destroy me.
“Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty haand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you. ”
“Be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world. And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen and establish you…”
and most importantly:
“To him be the dominion forever and ever. Amen.” (1 Peter 5:6-11)
It is not my world, it is not my kingdom. And my life is not my glory, but my life should give glory to God.
Motherhood is definitely not what I expected.
It isn’t full of clean laundry rooms with empty stainless steel buckets laying neatly around with the happy dog being chased by oddly perfect children carrying butterfly nets without a care in the world.
Motherhood is not the easy task of having children and going on a picnic until they leave for college.
Motherhood has been this agonizing, grueling, emotionally wrenching experience that has turned everything I knew about life upside down.
Before I had children I was worried about my life. I was worried about what people thought about me, about how I looked to other people. I was worried I was never going to amount to anything worthwhile in my life, if I am going to be honest. I threw myself into my jobs, into college, into personal projects in order to find value within myself.
When I had children, I never looked back.
I looked at them and thought about their future. I worried about what was best for them. My thoughts were on how to feed them better, teach them better, and love them better.
I rethought every single thing I ever thought I knew about life.
Motherhood has given me more than just the amazing insight and personal reflections I walk away with every day. Motherhood has enabled me to understand what patience is to a degree I never would have discovered on my own. After I had children I am more conscious of other’s needs and feelings than I ever have been. And Ben and I now have the ability to love them on a deeper level than we have ever loved another person before.
I really couldn’t imagine the words to describe what motherhood is actually like for me.
But it certainly hasn’t been the empty magazine cover I was expecting.