It's funny how I thought motherhood wouldn't really change me. I thought it would be a transition just like marriage is a transition: a new life phase, but really just a continuation of the last one. I think God must laugh at how naive I was before taking that precious bundle home from the hospital. Despite all of my efforts to lower my expectations and approach motherhood from a very realistic point of view, I had NOT. A. CLUE. what I was getting myself into. I can't stress to you how clueless I was. It's almost funny. Almost...
I pride myself on taking things in stride. I like to think I gracefully float through life - with rough spots on the way that I'm very honest about - but overall things generally coming easy to me. But boy. Motherhood. HA! Motherhood could not have been more a of a shock to my system. In the beginning, it was all the physical things that people tell you about. Being unbearably sore from breastfeeding a tiny boob shark multiple times a day (I also had thrush and had no idea - so in fairness, I do think this was a LOT worse for me than for most), not getting enough sleep, and trying to learn how to care for a newborn while barely being able to walk or use the bathroom without crying from pain. But all of those things healed pretty quickly. Almost eight months in, I can tell you that the hardest part has been laying it all down.
I knew before I had Amelia that babies ate every three hours - sometimes more. But that didn't really mean anything to me until she was eating EVERY THREE HOURS, SOMETIMES MORE. I wanted to pull my hair out most of those first few days and I honestly felt like a kicking, screaming child being held down by their parents and their parents wishing that they would just realize that they were tired and if they would just get into the bed and fall asleep, they would feel better.
This was my introduction to laying it all down.
After resisting the schedule for the first couple weeks and being - okay I'll admit it - annoyed - every time it was time to feed her again, I finally realized that if I just exhaled, accepted that she needed to eat that often and that it was a PRIVILEGE and a JOY to be able to feed her from my own body (even if it did hurt at the time), that my day would go a little smoother. I laid it all down. I gave up, and gave in to her needs over mine.
Once I did this, I realized how utterly selfish I was. Even with my own daughter! My very own flesh and blood that I had eagerly waited to be born, who I gave up my career for and my body for. I felt God pulling back the curtain and showing me just how deeply I cared for myself above everyone else - even her! He did it so gently, but so blatantly that I couldn't deny it. He's so good like that.
After I accepted the schedule, and began to find joy in her constant need for me, He continued to help me lay it all down. Every day I have to lay it all down. Her needs over mine. Her timing over mine. Her happiness over mine.
I'm getting better at it, but man sometimes I still fight it. It has been so humbling to see how UNgracefully I have taken on motherhood. Like an awkward fitting dress that isn't terribly flattering but looks great on the hanger - I have worn it in and it is slowly starting to stretch in the right places and not feel quite so stiff.
For all the hard, it is absolutely even better than I ever could have imagined it being. But I am on a mission to be honest and real about motherhood. So when you hear that mom telling you how her baby's smile can make any sleepless night instantly forgotten, know that she's telling the absolute truth. But also know that for the incredible moments, she is laying it all down. And that isn't easy.
I have said it before, and I will say it until I die. It has become my mantra: Motherhood is the very, very, VERY best work I have ever done. And it is hands down the hardest. And I think it's supposed to be that way.