Four and a half years ago, I was a totally overwhelmed new mommy. I couldn’t figure out how to get sleep. I couldn’t figure out how to get a shower. I couldn’t figure out where I would get the energy and motivation to cook and clean ever again. If I hadn’t believed beforehand that I would need help, I believed it now.
We had asked my mom to stay with us for a couple weeks following Abel’s birth; but it seems to me that my reasoning for that was initially more geared toward having her near to enjoy the new baby (since we were at the time living eight and a half hours away from my parents) rather than having her near to help me with the new baby. How hard could it be, right?
Wrong! I may be a well-adjusted mother now, but I sure didn’t feel like one in those initial weeks of motherhood. Not only was I sleep-deprived, un-showered, un-dressed, and sore, I was learning to embrace a new identity that wasn’t so much about me anymore.
Up until the day that Abel was born, I was working in a job that I absolutely loved. I was good at what I did, and I had favor with my bosses, my co-workers, and my customers. I was productive, and I was valuable. My work was noticed, and it was rewarded in tangible ways such as compliments, raises, and promotions. That was, to a degree, my identity.
Now, I didn’t have an identity (or at least that’s how I felt). Nothing was about me any longer. It was all about the new baby and his incessant needs. Overnight, I had gone from a life of “freedom and success” to a life of service and selflessness. And it wasn’t easy. In fact, it was rather a shock. I remember one afternoon in those initial days. I sat at the dining room table, still in my pajamas, body aching, desperate for sleep, and I said as I laid my forehead down on the table, “I just want to like… check out of life for a while.” You see, motherhood was forcing me to learn selflessness; and it was painful.
At the end of those first two weeks, it came time for my mom to leave. I can’t deny that I was scared. She had been doing all the cooking and cleaning and laundry and probably more, and I still hadn’t figured out how on earth I was going to do everything I had been doing plus all of that. But, as much as I didn’t want her to leave, it was obviously the right thing. She couldn’t stay forever; after all, this was to be my life now, and I was going to have to learn how to handle it one way or another.
It’s fun, now, to think back on those days and to see how far the road of Motherhood has brought me–from saying, “I just want to like… check out of life for while,” to saying, “I’m okay with this.” Our old pastor used to say that marriage isn’t only something that makes you more happy but also something that makes you more holy. I have learned that the same is true of motherhood. As I am daily learning this life of selflessness and service to my family–and even as I recognize my own faults in my children–I am being sanctified.
Indeed, time has brought me a long ways. I still don’t have everything figured out–and probably never will–but overall things are running smoothly. To you new mommies out there, rest assured. It does get easier. And to you seasoned mommies out there, aren’t you glad that it does?