For as long as I can remember, I wanted to be a mom…
…as a little girl…throughout my teen years…as a young adult pursuing my degrees in teaching, the thing I wanted most was to get married and have a family.
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I had watched many of my friends begin their journey in to family life…I had seen things I wanted to emulate and things I wanted to avoid. I had witnessed success, but I had also seen devastating failure. I had learned from mothers who were striving to keep Christ as the center at their home…and I had also learned from those who weren’t.
I oftentimes wondered what motherhood would be like for me…What would my spouse be like? What would my children be like? Where would our home be strong? and in What ways would our family struggle?
Even with these questions in my mind, I have to admit that my visions of parenting included patty cake…and reading picture books…and going on walks with my little ones…and taking my kids to the park…and teaching my children how to swim…and getting them dressed for church every Sunday. These were the kinds of things I expected.
And then I became a mother…Starting back from the moment I saw those two little lines on the stick, I became fiercely protective of the life growing inside of me. From those early weeks of motherhood, my child had someone championing for them…It was me…and I was going to do everything within my power to be the best mommy I could possibly be….but as the months went on, I began to experience various bouts of mom guilt. My child hadn’t even been born yet, and already I was finding things to feel guilty about…nothing had prepared me for those feelings…and how crazy they would make me feel at times.
And then my little one was born…There was never any doubt that I would leave the elementary classroom to now spend my days at home being a mom. This dream of mine had come true, and I would embrace it in every way possible….but as the months went on, the mommy guilt continued…and as hubby spent many hours a day away at work, loneliness crept in…and in the afternoon when the baby would nap, boredom surprised me.
Mommy guilt? Loneliness? Boredom? Where were these things coming from? These feelings weren’t part of my plan.
It was a struggle. I loved being a mom, but the transition from full-time teacher to full-time mommy was surprisingly difficult for me. While largely pregnant and preparing for my little one’s arrival, leaving the classroom seemed exciting…but as reality set in, I struggled…not with the baby…but with me.
Looking back, I think there were lots of things playing in to this…Hormones (for starters!), the climate at my hubby’s work place at the time, the temporary living situation we were in (not having yet built our house), lack of sleep, all that comes along with living far away from family help, and did I mention hormones?
Those first several months surprised me in all kinds of ways that I never expected, but you know what I learned? I learned that the most important things in life oftentimes come with unexpected challenges, and God used those first months of motherhood to teach me that when I’m feeling unnecessary guilt…or loneliness…or even boredom…He is there…longing to fill in those places where we are struggling…longing to take our guilt and replace it with freedom…longing to bury our loneliness and fill us with companionship…longing to crush our boredom and fill us with a sense of purpose…and as I battled with those unexpected feelings, He did all of those things. In my adjustment period, He was there with me, holding me…teaching me…and molding me – preparing me for days to come.
Several months later, our second child joined our family and while many young moms fear adding that second child to the family, I have to say that by this point, I had settled in to my role as mom and felt more comfortable with the ebb and flow of what the day-to-day at home as a mom looked like.
I had learned there would be a difficult and frustrating days, but I had also learned there would be even more really, really sweet days.
I had learned that while hubby’s job required much of him, I could also count on him be fully present and available from the moment he walked in the door in the evenings.
I had learned that it was okay to ask for help – that doing so wasn’t a sign of weakness, but a sign of strength.
I had learned that while people [and oftentimes my own feelings] would let me down, I served a Father who would never fail me.
I had learned that even though my new role included more messes than I ever imagined…more poop and pee and spit up than I could have ever thought possible…more cooking and cleaning and sorting and folding and organizing and wiping and scrubbing than I had ever done in my whole life, it also included a whole lot of patty cake…and reading picture books…and going on walks with my little one…and taking my baby to the park…and teaching my child how to swim…and getting him dressed for church every Sunday…and it was in the hard moments when I learned to appreciate the beauty of these simple things.
I found that having two children was easier than those early days with just one…and when our third child came along, I felt confident in my ability to handle things…With three children three-and under (My oldest turned four just weeks after our little girl was born.), life had never been better…
…and then came more of the unexpected.
Our sweet girl…diagnosed with Down Syndrome…a surprise that came when she was 4.5 months old. Talk about being blind-sided.
There are times when it still feels surreal…Sometimes we stop and ask ourselves Is this really happening? Is this really part of our family’s story? and it is in those moments when we sense our Father saying to us, Yes, this is your story, and this is your song.
We have so clearly experienced Him in this…and we have felt Him as He has strongly urged us not to waste our story…so I will continue to write.
As I feel the promptings within me to do so, I will share my heart…I will update you on how – through this – we are learning and growing in our faith…I will boldly express the way we have seen Jesus in the small moments…I will be honest about our struggles…and I will openly celebrate our victories…but when it comes specifically to our girl…I think I’m going to let her tell her own story…in her own way…in whatever manner she chooses. I believe she will have an amazing story to tell, and I hope you will stick around to hear it someday.
For now…in my current season of motherhood, I have learned to expect the unexpected…I have learned that while we don’t ever know what our days…or weeks…or months will hold in store, we can cling to the Father who does…
It was the weekend we had received our diagnosis from the doctor…I was sitting in church…hungry for the words of truth that I knew our pastor would share…and as I sat there, my eyes fixed on a baby girl [I guessed her to be a few months older than our girl.] sitting in her mother’s lap just a few rows ahead of us…That sweet baby was smiling and giggling as she reached up to play with her mama’s face. In those moments, I remember closing my eyes and asking God to Please let my baby girl reach up and play with my face someday. That may sound silly, but when you’ve just received news that has suddenly placed a huge question mark on your child’s life, you begin to think about things you never expected would cross your mind….
…and I bet you can’t guess what my baby girl loves to do more than anything right now…
You guessed it.
She smiles and laughs and reaches up for my face…and it is in those moments when I can’t help but think: Motherhood hasn’t been what expected, it’s been better.