The first couple of days are great. Sure, you’ve just given birth to your first-born, but you can forget about the pain when you look into that precious face you’ve been longing to see. And as much as you appreciate the visitors, you also just want the room to clear out so you can spend time staring at your baby without distractions. The time there with your husband and newborn couldn’t feel richer. Life is good, and all you want to do is sacrifice everything for your baby.
But then a few nights later you find yourself waking up alone to the sound of a pitiful cry, and you let your husband sleep through it so that he can get to work the next day. My little one wasn’t content with just being changed and nursed. She wanted “dinner and a movie” so I would pace and gently bounce her in a path around the house praying she would go back to sleep. Weeks upon weeks escalated the fatigue until I felt tempted to toss the little howler out the window!
Ok, maybe that’s a little dramatic. I love my girls more than just about anything, and am so grateful for them! But the fairytale took a different turn of events from what I expected when it got hard to do this mom thing day in and day out. I knew I wasn’t the only mom who felt very alone at times. The Lord began teaching me about dying daily to my self through my new role. It was a huge change. No more going where I wanted to go when I wanted. Forget sleeping in, eating peacefully at restaurants, a quick trip to get groceries, or taking long showers. Each move had to take my little shadow into account. Finding one minute to use the restroom was even a stretch!
My girls are in elementary school now so it’s been a few years since they were really little. But I was reminded of those initial feelings a few weeks ago. My husband and I have just returned from our third mission trip to Honduras. It has become one of our favorite weeks of the year as we minister together and reunite with our Honduran brothers and sisters in Christ– many of whom have become some of our dearest friends! One couple in particular had their first baby, a precious boy named Matthias, this past year. We were overjoyed to meet him after spending the two previous years serving with his amazing parents.
Little Matthias’s dad, Eduardo, was able to join us as we ventured out into the community again. But Nidia, Matthias’s mom, served in new and different ways this time around. Instead of going out with us to minister and translate, she would meet us at lunch to serve food and fellowship with her little eight-month-old son by her side. Moms notice things about each other, and I saw that she was the last to eat, waiting until her baby had been fed before lifting her own fork to her mouth.
It just so happened that Matthias got sick early in the week and Nidia was unable to join us for the rest of the time. Her priorities as a new mother took over and she tended to her little guy. It was only through the glass wall at the airport where her family showed up to tell us goodbye that I got to see her sweet face again for the year. I knew they were rushing to try to make it in time. We had already walked through customs and didn’t get to hug, but we waved for about five minutes through the glass and through some tears.
Sitting on the plane I reflected on the emotions of the trip and also saying goodbye to a new mom who had “missed out” on much of the week. Nidia wasn’t a part of the team in the same way as before. Her obligations had changed. But that didn’t mean she wasn’t a team member with us. It touched me that she brought her baby along with her to serve us lunch while she could. I knew she was praying throughout the week. And she showed how much she cared by coming up to the airport with her family to send us off.
I think we can feel a little cheated when we can’t participate in life the same way as we did before we had kids. Some of the activities may even be the most worthwhile and Godly things we could do, but what feels like a little “ball-and-chain” can slow us down or knock us out of the game. We may feel “left behind” or alone at home while the world spins around us.
Our roles in life change when we become moms. We say good bye to some things, but are able to embrace new challenges and blessings. Nidia did what was right. She took care of her family when she was needed. But she also didn’t shy away completely and use her child as a reason not to serve. In fact, she brought him along, demonstrating to him at a very early age the importance of serving others.
So, ladies, it’s true that you’ve had to give up much. But what have you gained instead? Through motherhood you have been granted an opportunity to become more like Christ. Thinking of yourself won’t make you more like Him, but serving others (especially your family) will.
There is a lot of pruning, clipping and sharpening that results from a life surrendered to the Lord through the avenue of motherhood. And you also have a built-in disciple right under your wings to guide and send out into the world. Instead of pouting and mourning the so-called “freedom” of your former days, embrace the new and allow the Lord to do His finest work in you. Bring your child along with you as you live life and reach out to others.
My kids aren’t babies or toddlers anymore. I miss that sweet season! If you are in it, treasure it because it doesn’t last forever. Sure, I have a little more freedom than I did then, but now I find myself holding on to the years that they will still be under my roof! The “new normal” of living life with the girls’ needs always on my mind is precious to me.
One last thought. There were many nights and days that I felt alone caring for my kids. There were also times when my sweet, hard-working husband was gone for many hours. I thought I didn’t have purpose beyond the walls of my home. Well, I learned in those times that I was not alone, that I was being taught to look up instead of around, and that my purpose is for His glory. I have a Father who is with me and He is with you too. Listen for the voice of your Shepherd. He is there to lovingly guide you through the sacrifices of motherhood!
“He tends his flock like a shepherd: He gathers the lambs in His arms and carries them close to His heart; He gently leads those that have young.” (Isaiah 40:11, NIV)