My Motherhood Birthday

As firmly as I am convinced that pregnancy is as valid an experience of motherhood as care giving post-delivery, I find myself looking back on this last almost-year with Jacob and thinking the journey really began when we saw him face-to-face.

 

Every day has its ups and downs, and every day has its inevitable surprises, but I can safely say that things have gotten progressively easier over time.  This has less to do with the number of diapers being changed or even how many allergy screenings came back positive.  It has much more to do with how I’ve grown as a mother and as a woman since the doctor showed me a pair of slightly purple feet and told me I had a “beautiful baby boy.”  (And to think, I never even mentioned my appreciation for well-used alliteration.)

 

Recently a great friend from college met Jacob for the first time. Annie is one of the most thoughtful, most reflective, most intelligent, and kindest people I know. I love having some time to sit down and talk with her. At this meeting—as was to be expected—she asked me something that really got me to think.  She asked what I’d been surprised to learn about myself since I’d become a mother.

 

My first response was how agile I am with my feet, or rather my toes.  There have been times when I’ve had Jacob in my arms—best when he’s a naked, just-out-of-the-bath Jacob—and needed something off the floor, seeing as most of our lives take place there these days.  Bending down can be complicated, so I’ve learned to pick things up with my toes.  Sometimes I feel like a circus act, but whatever gets the job done!

 

I gave Annie my answer and we got to talking about something else (I think it was how strangely spaced my toes are, making them apt for retrieving items but also what some might consider good evidence for human evolution from monkeys).  A few minutes later, a less humorous, but more honest answer appealed to me.  I told Annie and the two other girls with us that I’d learned I am not as selfless and charitable as I thought I was.

 

Just like Jesus says (surprise, surprise), it’s easy to be kind to people you like, in easy situations, and when you’re feeling good. But when you’re exhausted, confused and stressed, and it’s the middle of the night, even when you are only with your best friend/husband and your brand new baby boy, it can be hard to respond to what’s asked of you with love.

 

I’ve learned how valuable adequate sleep is for me, and not to attempt to make life decisions at four am.  John and I have both learned when it’s most important for him to help me out and in what ways.   I’m certainly not finished learning about myself yet. There’s still a long way to go, but this is a start.

 

In this past year, I’ve really started to understand what it means that, “when I am weak, then I am strong” (2 Cor 12:10).  Thanks in large part to Your Vocation of Love by Agnes Penny, I’ve learned to look at the moments I want to explode, yell, cry, or curl up in a ball and disappear as opportunities to serve God.  Those moments when it feels almost impossible to love are the ones that really matter.  So now I am grateful for those moments.  While I can’t say I respond perfectly every time, I am trying.  And for right now, that’s enough.

 

Motherhood has changed me for the better in ways no other experience could hold a candle to. As we approach Jacob’s birthday, I kind of feel like it’s my own—the anniversary of my birth as a mother.  And that is certainly something worth celebrating.

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