“Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”
I Thessalonians 5:16-18 (NIV)
Can I just be real with you guys today? When I had Finn, I had certain expectations for what life with a newborn would be like. And in my defense, I only had them because everyone I knew always made it seem so easy to adjust to sleepless nights, breastfeeding, round the clock diaper changes, and all the other things that a new baby entails. Perhaps it’s because people don’t want to ruin anything for you or put their negative experiences on new moms, but I kinda wish someone had prepared me to not have any expectations…at all. I think I would’ve enjoyed those early weeks and months with Finn a little more.
Instead, it felt like something was wrong with me. Like every other mother I knew was some sort of natural-born Earth mother who was just so in tune to their baby’s needs and had such an easy time breastfeeding and their baby slept through the night after 6 weeks. No pressure, right?
Only just recently has God placed mama-friends in my life who admit that they (like me) felt a little resentful of their baby for taking their sleep away or a little angry that people kept telling them breastfeeding shouldn’t hurt if you’re doing it right (guess what, it actually can) or so foggy that they don’t remember the first three months-1st year of their baby’s life other than the pictures and videos they took.
I was so apprehensive before Lydia arrived that I would struggle with the same feelings (as mentioned above) with her as I did with Finn. I didn’t want to squander away the early days wishing for the next stage (that was supposedly easier) to come and relieve me. I didn’t want to feel resentful about my lack of sleep. I also didn’t want to get so bogged down in all the difficult beginning things that I didn’t take time to enjoy Finn and Lydia just as they are now. So I prayed…and prayed and prayed that I would be more mature this time around. More receptive to being in the moment (even the rough ones). More relaxed about visitors bringing their germs to my baby (sorry, but not sorry, because I told you I was going to be real today). And, you know what, it worked about a week and a half before I had a breakdown. Mainly, because I was trying to do it on my own. Remember when I wrote about how the love a mother and child has is unnatural by the world’s standards?
I really thought that under my own power of will, I could handle all the hard things by myself without God’s help. Once I realized that’s what I was doing, I had to shift my whole way of thinking again because I cannot (really no one can) take care of two children under their own strength. Don’t get me wrong, I have lots of help from Ryan and other family members, but I’m talking about the things only I (the mama) can do for my kids. Only God can provide me with the patience and energy I require to help my kids grow to be who He’s created them to be. Only He can show me how to love them in the ways that speak to them most. Only He can show me how to tie their heart strings to mine. And that’s how I’ve found my joy this time around. Amidst the tireless demands of small children, the sleepless nights, the whining (mine and theirs), and all the other adjustments in this season of life, God has (and will) equip me to find joy in the little moments, patience in the stressful moments, and peace in the moments that are out of my control.
I only share any of this in hopes of encouraging new moms (whether you’ve just had your first or your seventh child) that you don’t have to do everything perfectly or even feel particularly happy about all the new tasks you take on as a mother, but you can rejoice in whatever your current circumstances are and know that the Lord will sustain you. Just as He is sustaining me.