Tuesday, April 5, 2022

what I would tell myself as a new mother

I was thinking today what a crazy whirlwind the last seven years of child raising has been. Two (or three?) chronic illnesses, two babies, six miscarriages...it has been a lot. And how fragrant has my Lord become to me due to the trials I have endured!

What advice would I give to new mothers, whose wombs are full of sweet first flutterings of life? Oh, how I wish I could go back and bestow some wisdom on myself. 

I want to write a motherhood book, but there are too many on the market today and I don't have time. Yet I always write here. 

So here I am. Mulling over all the things, and what would I choose to speak on if I had thirty minutes uninterrupted from sticky fingers and probing questions and potty breaks.

I would start with the trials. Oh, dear new mother, I would say...you are about to undergo some discomfort. Western life is all about comfort and ease, and the I-can-get-it-now mentality. Two day amazon shipping? Check. Netflix binge with Chinese take-out every Friday? Self care culture, mani-pedis and bubble baths. New clothes, new shoes, new you every year. Most women I meet have not endured many trials. They (like me) floated through a life that was all about them and their accomplishments and interests. But motherhood is new, unbroken ground. Suddenly there is a lot less time for yourself and your dreams. Suddenly you are holding a squirmy, ungrateful child and scrubbing floors for a man who doesn't understand how hard you work and how demanding parenting is. You wake up (and go to sleep) "on the clock of motherhood". There is never a moments break; many moms have no help and babysitters are either too expensive or hard to find. 

Motherhood is slow. It isn't easy and there is no quick gratification. You are about to be uncomfortable for quite awhile, and I am not only speaking of labor and delivery. Motherhood is messy. There are no promises. Your child may grow up to be a Yale graduate or he could end up homeless and sleeping on benches in NYC. He could die at six from choking on an apple, he might turn 18 and tell you he hates you as he packs his bags for Japan. There are no assurances for perfection or love, only the Bible and the promises of God--that is all you and your fragile heart have to cling too. And cling you must, because mother's hearts are easily broken. 

There is nothing dazzling about changing a poopy blow out diaper at 2 am after only sleeping for 1.5 hours. There is nothing to cheer about when your precious snowflake is caught cheating, lying, stealing and fornicating. 

What I am saying is you (and your husband) are about to have all your buttons pushed for weeks, and maybe years, on end. And that is just the young years! 

Be easy on yourself. Don't have the hard conversations when you are burnt out, sleep deprived, and tired. Make time to laugh. Eat cake, cuddle the babies and take turns getting up with them at night. Live guilt free. Screen time, take out, and locks on the bathroom door were made for a reason. Be diligent with how you feed your children (and their minds) but don't punish yourself if they watch Daniel Tiger for three hours while you cry in the bathroom and text friends. Try and read your bible while you cry; definitely pray.  

Realize no one is going to save you. This was big for me. There is no knight in shining armor that is going to swoop down and rescue you from tantrums, three year olds who hit, potty accidents, spills, mud, broken or torn things, sisters who give the baby a impromptu hair cut, sharpies on faces...extended family drama in the middle of a sleepless night, fridges that break, crying children and piles of dirty laundry. Clean up your own mess and train those children. If you don't do it, no one will. 

Your husband is not a knight and he isn't there to liberate you from all the discomfort and pain that child-rearing brings, especially if he is working long hard hours too. He needs a break just as much as you do! Don't try to pin that saviors robe on him. Jesus died so you could go to heaven, not to rescue you from orange juice spills and sleepless nights. Run to Jesus in these weary days of motherhood, he will be your rest. Point your husband to God and remember the promises of the Bible.

Don't despair. God created motherhood to draw you closer to him so you can abide and rest in the comfort of his loving embrace. Support other mothers you know. We are all exhausted and a little help (a meal, a text, a card, some cute stickers, a dinner out, a matcha latte in the park...) goes a long way. Be the village you want to live in.

You can do it. God believes in you, or he wouldn't have made you a mother. His plans for you are good! 

That's what I would tell new mothers. What would you add?

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