Nothing could prepare me for what was to come. Not the “What to Expect When you’re Expecting” book, not Lamaze classes, and not the wisdom of family members with children. Nothing.
This was my one **most important job in the whole wide world** and I didn’t want to screw it up. I was a rule follower in this department and did everything I was told by those I trusted most. ESPECIALLY doctors.
After the anxiety of leaving the hospital with Evie, I made sure to document everything she did and I mean everything. I had a journal I kept for her not only of her birth story and all that entailed, but also a notebook where I kept track of every feeding, diaper change, nap, and fever this little child ever encountered until 11 months old when I hesitantly stopped keeping track (and felt immense guilt too BTW). I called the doctor with every sad face she made, every sniffle, and any doubt I had in her overall health. All the modern norms that were preached by pediatricians, I followed to a T. I took her into the doctor for everything and every “well baby checkup.” I wanted to do right by her and never take a chance that any sniffle or sign of discomfort could take her from me. I remember that sigh of relief I felt when the doctor told me I was doing everything right.
My mom and my sister would tell me I was a good mom and I took such pride in following the rule books. My husband was proud of me and I basked in motherhood. Even through the postpartum, and the continued hormonal depression I experienced. She was my sunshine and my dream come true. I would die for that baby girl. For all I knew she could be my only child. She was a miracle for this young girl who was told may never have kids.
Looking back after 16.5 years of being a mom… I wish I could go back to the younger me and tell her to read different books, to take the advice of her elders with a grain of salt. To follow her own intuition about her kids over anyone else. To tell her that God gave her everything she needed to be a mother and she didn’t have to check in with anyone else on that matter to seek approval. That it was okay to do what her mothering instincts told her instead of snuffing them out because of what current clinical practices were.
If I could be face to face right now, I would tell Younger Me, that the best thing she ever did was find her faith again, because she was going to need it more than she’d ever know one day and all the days throughout motherhood and marriage. That her faith would be the one thing that would hold her together during all the rips and tears, and tears of joy and pain throughout the blessed burden and gift of being a mom.
I think that’s why God gives you only the present to deal with at a time, because He knows if He was to reveal to us all that would happen from the beginning, we might not want to sign up for that! I would have been intimidated for sure if I knew all the battles we’d fight. I was not equipped for any of it. Who is?
But as I went along, the Lord grew me in ways I never knew. He strengthened my marriage, not by making it easy, but allowing trials to make it strong. Trials we didn’t appreciate at the time because we didn’t see the worth then. Love is easy when there’s not a war going on around you. Joseph and I went through quite a bit that could have easily broken us. It wasn’t easy. Or glamorous. Sometimes we had one little strand of faith holding it all together. But the bottom line was love, and the strength was not our own. It was supernatural.
We decided early on I couldn’t go back to work and leave Evie in daycare. I just couldn’t. The thought of leaving her sent me into an emotional mess. Plus I’d barely earned more than what daycare cost, and it wasn’t worth it to us. Joseph worked 3 jobs and donated plasma so I could stay home with her. It was hard but we made it work, and that was just the beginning…
HINDSIGHT: What No One Tells You about Motherhood
No one tells you that when you are in the thick of motherhood there will be times when you physically and mentally can’t handle it some days.
Or that there would be that moment you may be sitting and bawling on your kitchen floor, holding snot nosed screaming toddlers wondering if it’s always going to be this hard… That even when you’re a mama, you will at some point cry for your own mother. Especially when you are sick and there’s no one to take care of you because your husband HAS to work and you have to “mom”.
Sleep deprivation. Not showering for days because you’d rather sleep than smell presentable. “Breast milk” becomes your signature perfume. And you don’t currrr.
The whole “heart on your sleeve” thing is real. Once you create humans you cannot look at the world the same way again. You want to PROTECT with every fiber of your being, and never let the hurts you knew growing up befall onto your own children.
Tears fall like it’s your job. You are filled with so much empathy and hormones you don’t know what to do with yourself. You cry when someone lets you in the traffic line.
Loneliness. No one will tell you about the loneliness that comes with motherhood at times. How in the beginning it always feels like nighttime because you’re up most of the nights with babies, toddlers… and that you don’t have time for friendships like you wish you did because your husband can’t nurse the baby when you’re gone and baby hates bottles because they aren’t YOU.
No one tells you what to do when the money runs out and all you have left is your vows and you’re hoping that love will still hold it all together…like the Matt Maher song.
No one tells you that even if you follow all the rules and did everything you were supposed to, the unspeakable could happen. To your child.
No one tells you that couples don’t grieve the same way. Or how to protect your kids’ hearts when a tragedy occurs and your own heart is aching so bad to can hardly see.
Or just when you think you have it figured out, WHAM you’d get a lesson in humility from one of your kids. You have finally mastered your OWN mouth and actions(sometimes) and now you have to help your child to master themselves. Repeat: often.
No one tells you that your children’s heartaches become your own or that you will feel twice the amount of pain, from your empathy for them, and also the pain of a mama bear whose child is hurting.
No one tells you that to be a mother is to master 17 things at once most of which are heavy and complicated and emotional. Then add-on sports and activities and all the other superficial stuff to your plate that doesn’t even matter.
No one tells you that your children’s friends become like your own children. That not only do you worry about your own kids, but you worry about their friends too, and so you have long chats with all of them in the van on the way to dances and sports and Target because you care about them and want to impart your life lessons.
No one tells you how hard it is to raise kids on the narrow path this day and age and that they
might will suffer for being in that minority and somehow to you have convince them it will all be worth it one day.
No one tells you how bad you are going to need a posse of strong lady friends in your corner as these years go by for comic relief and support that only other women can understand or offer… and how desperately you need your friends to know you and claim you.
No one tells you just how imperfect you will actually be as a mother, and how bad the disappointment is when you can’t do it all on your own and the sting of being reminded of your humanity, as you learn humility over and over again. But then you look UP and remember..
When Evie was about 13 months old I told Joseph we needed to find our faith again. There was this strong nudge in my heart, beating out of this fierce protection I had for our daughter and I knew I couldn’t do it alone. I KNEW that she was my blood and I had a foreshadowing. What if she felt the way I did growing up? I didn’t want her to experience the pain that I felt. I heard my father’s voice saying to me so many times: “Spring, you are good because God doesn’t make junk..” How could I teach my daughter to believe that if I didn’t believe it myself yet?
Joseph said to me: “I agree with you, we do need to start going back to church.” And I said: “I need more than just going back to church… I need to be resuscitated.”
Little did I know then, that was God calling me home. He knew I was going to need Him through our journey and I realized years later, this was His way of equipping me for what was to come. I would be needing Him more than ever.
The first victory needed to happen within my own heart allowing God in. Jesus was beckoning to me. He came to me through the love I had for my daughter which made me desire His love for her. Discovering that, I realized in order to show her His love, I needed to accept His love for me. I wanted it more than anything.
One thought on “What to Expect:”
Just beautiful and so real. Thank you for sharing. My kids are younger than yours, so this IS timely.
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