Motherhood is something that entered my life unexpectedly. Zach and I were planning on waiting to have kids for about four more years but life didn’t happen that way, for various reasons I don’t particularly feel like sharing with the whole internet.
Consequently, I didn’t have time prior to being pregnant to reflect on being a mom, read about being a mom, or even just think about it in a personal context. I was never one of those girls who dreams from childhood of having children. I was also never one of those girls with big dreams of getting married. Now here I am at twenty-one with a husband and a son. Go figure.
I purposely didn’t read any parenting books while pregnant and tried (for the most part) to avoid the mommy blogs and thousands of pins, articles, and conflicting ideas related to parenting. A glance at my Google search history over the past ten months will reveal that there are many times I failed at this.
As a reader, I love the idea of being able to figure things out by reading about them. I love closed captions because I understand the movie better if I can “read” about it. This has been something I’ve consciously tried to quit when it comes to being a mom because…
I have to figure it out for myself.
While pregnant, I thought that I would have to fight against “losing myself” in being a mom, but in many ways, I’m learning more about myself. I found this to be true of marriage too. Suddenly faced with a whole new set of responsibilities, motherhood has forced me figure out what I believe, what I want, and what’s important.
That sounds a little cheesy, but it’s true. No one else can do this for me – from deciding what kind of diapers to use to thinking about homeschooling down the road, motherhood presents so many opportunities to practice making decisions, trying new things, and experimenting with what works and what doesn’t.
It’s forced me to “hustle”.
Pre-baby and post-work, when I had the whole day ahead of me with no interruptions, it was so easy to procrastinate, stretch tasks out longer than needed, and spend a lot of time thinking about plans and ideas and never actually implementing them. Now, when I know I have to be up by 7:30, in bed by 10:30, and that I have (maybe) four 90 minute naps within that time span for personal time, you better believe I’m spending that time a little more carefully.
Once again, I’ve had to reevaluate what’s important to me. If my time is limited, do I want to write or watch TV? Exercise or browse Instagram? I’ve always found the busier I am the more I actually get done – for example, when I’ve had jobs I often pursue my hobbies and interests more consistently. Motherhood is no different.
I’m learning to appreciate things as they are happening.
This is a simple one but it’s something I’ve been thinking about a lot. Since I can’t make Miles snuggle contentedly with me, for example, the times when he wants to I’ve begun to slow down, enjoy that mood, and set aside whatever else I was focusing on. Since it’s something I can’t control, I don’t take it for granted. I’m “snapped” into the moment because snuggling with a happy baby is something I can’t plan on happening later. He might be wiggly and fussy at the time that it would be most convenient for me to snuggle with him. Which leads me to the next point…
I’m learning to serve.
As a Christian, I’ve read many verses and learned a lot about the concept of service/being a servant – but my life hasn’t always afforded many opportunities to do so and it’s very easy to be lazy about seeking them out. A newborn requires service. I’m learning to set aside my timeline and priorities, my opinions and goals, and care for another person.
It’s not a popular idea in American culture. Service can feel demeaning and thankless and exhausting and I’ve certainly experienced all of that in the past five weeks. But I’m learning to push past that and make the best of it because I have no other choice. I’ve found that in my stubbornness I often will only learn something if I’m forced to by life.
It’s changed the way I look at people.
I’ve begun to see every person as a one-time baby who another person had take care of and nurture for days, weeks, and years (not to mention give birth to!). I’ve begun to see every parent as someone who is accomplishing something that is incredibly challenging and difficult to me. My eyes are being opened to the sacrifice and work performed by people I might not otherwise admire. I’m losing my childish notions of what constitutes success.
Obviously I’ve been a mom for all of five weeks and I have a lot to learn – however, I’m encouraged by how much these five weeks have taught me. Many of the cliches I’ve heard about parenthood are being “fleshed out” by my actual experience.