I was talking with a friend the other day about what we would say to a woman about to have her first baby.
We made some jokes at first,
“Say good-bye to showers!”
“Say good-bye to sleep!”
“Say good-bye to quiet!”
“Say good-bye to life as you know it!”
Then the conversation turned a little more serious. If you aren’t a mother yet, you might be thinking, that’s not serious?? Hahahaha… *intake of breath* Hahahahaha…. *intake of breath* just wait.
As I watched my friend talk it was like we were in a movie. She was being transported back to that very moment. Her eyes gazed off into nothing and she was there.
“It’s really none of those things,” she was saying. “Those aren’t really the big ones.” I quickly caught on. Then we were both caught up in the time warp of remembering. As our combined 5 children ran crazy around us we ignored them and continued on our journey.
Then she was saying something about the ache that just never goes away. It’s not the sleep deprivation that is the hardest. Or not remembering when the last time was that you showered. And you really forget what quiet is. Something feels very wrong when it’s quiet actually and you don’t know what to do with yourself.
We went on to talk about the worry that comes with motherhood. I know Christ tells us NOT to worry. But have you ever looked closely at that scripture in Matthew? It says:
“Do not worry about YOUR life, what YOU will eat or drink or about YOUR body, what YOU will wear…” Mt. 6:25
Not worrying about yourself, that’s easy! Yourself? Who is that anyway? You don’t even remember who that person was. You know that you existed before you had kids, but that person, well, that person just doesn’t exist anymore! See, He wasn’t talking to mothers. Because He knew worrying for mothers is like breathing.
Ok, yes, I’m being facetious. I don’t want to be accused of blaspheming the Scriptures. I know that we are to “be anxious for nothing, to cast our anxieties on Him, that an anxious heart weighs a man down…” But for a mother it really does seem impossible NOT to worry about her children. It is something that just happens. It is involuntarily all consuming. In other words, you have no choice, in some form or fashion it will consume you!
As we were talking I remembered the first time I realized what had happened to me. Olivia was 4 weeks old. She woke up with a cough and a sniffle. I called the doctor and they told me to bring her in. They were concerned because she was so little. They had me bring her in the next day as well, just to keep close tabs on her. Thankfully it wasn’t serious and she quickly recovered. On the drive home from the last visit I broke down. Not because I was worried she wasn’t going to get better. I knew she was going to be fine. I cried because I was hurting. I had a physical ache, a heaviness that had settled right in the middle of my chest.
I knew that since she had been born I hadn’t been the same. I was nervous all the time, so concerned that I was going to do something wrong. My wonderful ability to sleep through anything had automatically vanished. Now the slightest rustle of the sheet would throw me into an near panic attack. I was pretty even keel before, but now my anxiety level was through the roof! I just thought that I had the ‘new mother syndrome’. And I did, but I didn’t fully understand what had really happened.
Driving home that day I realized that the moment they laid her on my chest after she was born she left something there. She left the mark every child leaves on a mother’s heart. Whether that child is biologically born to you or born to you through adoption. I wasn’t sure I wanted it. It hurt too much. I was overwhelmed with the realization that I would have to hold that ache in my heart for the rest of my life. So I cried. Never will I not worry about her. Never will I not have some thought of her in my head. Never will I be completely at ease or care free again the way I used to be.
We decided that that was what we would share with a new mother-to-be. It’s not the sleep deprivation we would warn her about or not being able to do her nails whenever she wanted. We’d want her to know that she would no longer be the same person. There would now be another person that she would be consumed by, every part of her. And that she might have an uncomfortable ache where there didn’t use to be. Not a temporary ache, but a permanent one that she will carry until the day she dies.
I was reminded of this fact the other day. It was twilight and I parked my car at my parents ice cream shop. I stopped in and said hi and told them that I was on my way to the coffee shop for ‘girls night’. I saw a slight twinge cross my mother’s face. A little later that night I got a text from her saying, “Don’t walk to your car by yourself.“ There it was, the mother ache. I’m 28, have three children of my own and it’s still with her.
Six years and three children later, I have to say that I would never go back! I eventually adjusted to being a mommy… I’ve even gotten used to the ache. It’s still there, always will be, but I’m ok with that. I wouldn’t be who I am today without it. I wouldn’t know true love, I wouldn’t be complete. It truly is an honor.
Thanks friend, for a wonderful conversation that day. It’s amazing that it actually took place where it did, when it did with all of the kids running around us! I think we are just good at blocking them out!! hehehe
Hmmm… maybe that’s something else I would tell a new mother-to-be. You will get great at not hearing the most annoying of noises!!