I wrote a piece of work to share at a friends baby shower this week. Writing is never an issue for me. Words flow easily for me. But reading them out loud proves emotional. These specific words were on being a mama...not a rare topic for me...but as i read them my sweet little Grace, who was sitting beside me, curled closer and closer to me and the tears flowed. And then I felt the spirit reminding me that what I was saying was true and worth saying out loud.
A couple of weeks back I spent some time in Ohio with my sister and her family. I have deemed that specific week in January to be auntie week. My girl Paige being the main event, I have the pleasure of being her nanny for the week. We don't do anything special with our day. We laugh and love and play and nap and change diapers and have bath time and cry and sing. I attempt to soak her into every pore as commuter auntie proves to be one of the hardest titles to hold. The first night I was there I was able to help with her bedtime routine, my sister was giving me the rundown of the order of events when she sheepishly says to me, well we give her a bottle and rock her until she is almost and then we lay her down. She followed with, I know she's one and we probably shouldn't but she likes and to be honest so do we.
My heart broke in that moment for all mamas and my sister. I know and continue to know those emotions so well. There are so many shoulds and shouldn'ts out there that we loose sight of our freedom to love our babies however we are led to do so. In doing so ensues a constant battle though to adopt our freedom in Jesus.
As the week progressed I found myself reflecting on my own time as a mama of a one year old, as a mama of toddlers, babies and now. And I realized although I shared some of the same emotions of those with younger ones around me, the causes and roots were much different. I had my babies 12 years ago, and in that time there weren't blogs, facebook, instagram or french kids. My benchmark was set by church ladies, the moms who "did it right", family, and the book What to Expect the First Year. Sure some of that could be discouraging but most of the time it was fairly easy to push unwanted help to the side, absorb what was true and good and keep on truckin.
Now though Facebook alone is enough to make you question what you are doing. So much mothering is thrown in your face and if it's someones perfect mothering, it's someones perfect complaints about mothering. And now insert the blogs, in recent years there has been a mommy revolution of sorts. One in which gives us the permission to say how much this job really stinks sometimes, to confess how much of struggle it can be, how tired we are all, how its okay to run from our littles in fear and lock ourselves in bathrooms. Some of those things can be liberating I must agree, some of it provides for an unspoken camaraderie that can propel us forward. But maybe what I am noticing more of lately is the ability for that kind of platform to turn into a complaint center. I read way more about moms who truly seem to hate this mom thing. It is easier to rest in weariness than to search for joy. I can make this claim because I know it first hand.
In that week in Ohio though I was reminded of the other option we are offered though. One that rests in the spirit and is good and full of relief for our weary souls. Perhaps the most life changing piece of this truth is simple gospel that we all have access to wether you are a mama or not. We are free to love simply because we ourselves our loved. I am convinced that my role as mama is the most sanctifying role I have ever experienced. It requires a great deal more of Jesus than I am even able to claim. But without Him or the option of the sanctification it would seem a lot more like failure simply because any redemption of my own failure would be off of the table.
There will days you feel like you are doing it all wrong, in fact you may in fact be doing it wrong. There will be days that love is a far reach and your is more that of a lion tamer with a strong whip and a ravenous lion who hasn't been fed....ever. Being a mama of a newborn is long and hard. There is a lot of screaming and poop, lets be honest. But what I can tell you in retrospect 12 years later is this, there will be a day when you realize you could have cared less about what french kids did, when you weaned your baby, if he or she had a binky, slept in your bed for the first year (or 10), whether you breastfed or bottle fed or if you had an epidural or not, or if you were trying to get your kid to poop on the potty just so they could go to preschool. Those days are long but far shorter than you could ever imagine. Being a mom is the single greatest thing that I could have ever hoped to do, I wish I could have had a dozen more. My babies are nearly as tall as I am now, Neither of them need to be rocked to sleep or nursed to sleep.
There have been times I have questioned my love for them. In those early days I prayed that God would show me what it really looked like to truly love them and he covered that prayer and my longing with his grace. Showing me in time that I did in fact love my littles. Because every time I hold another baby it is very easy for me to draw from the love God gave me for the pair of them. And my friends may be the most redeeming thing I have experienced as a mother. Because I know my ability to love even my own children takes a great deal of Jesus every single day. I wish this realization would have come to me a decade ago. I would have spent far less time feeling shame and guilt and the need to make everything perfect for my kiddos all of the time.