For all the expectant mothers out there. A few simple words from someone
who has been there, done that--for whatever it is worth.
The drive home from the hospital is idyllic. That sweet child is snuggled down into her spic-and-spancar seat, nary a crumb yet to be crushed into the fabric or a juice box spilled. She purses her lips, eyes shut, a little coo escaping when she draws in a contented big breath. It is just how you imagined motherhood to be. The world is aglow with magical unicorns and butterflies.
You figure you are off to a great start. How hard can this mothering thing be? It’s not like you haven’t read all the books and listened to the myriad of “how to’s” from other moms. In fact, you should probably be receiving your official “Parenting Specialist” certificate in the mail any day now. After all, you are 100% destined to be an expert mother with all the research you have put into it. It’s in the bag. Easy-peasy. No worries.
And then. . . then you enter the house, the pregnancy semi-waddle still hanging on as a reminder of what is to come.
As you lay the baby in the crib, still sleeping, reality hits. “Oh, no! What do we do now?!?!?!” Thoughts swirl faster than the ice cream oozing out of Mr. Goody’s delight-producing machines. “This kid is ours—like, FOREVER! What do we do if she wakes up? No, no! I mean, when she wakes up? I have to be the responsible adult for at least the next 18 years, and probably longer! Geez-Louise. This might not be as easy as I thought!!!”
For now, you settle into the rocking chair and begin that rhythmic back and forth, back and forth. Eyes grow heavy, the excitement of the last few days dwindling away. Just as you fall into a contented deep sleep, that distinct newborn wimper turns into a full-blown wale. Jolted awake, you spring to your feet,make your way to the crib, and gather that child into your arms. With absolutely no warning at all, you feel your shirt begin to get wet. “I guess the lactation nurse wasn’t kidding when she said my milk might come in with a vengeance” you think, quickly trying to get settled into the rocker to begin the feeding cycle. By this time, the child begins to suck from one breast as a stream spews from the other. You scream, “Beloved Spouse of mine, Get me a towel. Now!” He returns to your side with a hand towel. “No! A beach towel. Please!” He looks perplexed and more than a little startled. Still, he scurries off, dumbfounded that his wife’s ta-tas, previously so enticing, could turn into a messy, musty-smelling milk factory. Still, it never always gets worse, right? Um, Sorry. Sometimes it does.
Day turns into night and nights turn into days. But you hardly notice. It is a constant barrage of laundry, throwing together something reminiscent of a meal with whatever you find in the cupboard, and cleaning up sticky poop. Sleep is more like a series of intermittent snoozes. In you doze-deprived state, there is no desire to change clothes. Even the milk-soaked and now crusted over t-shirts have a hard time finding their way to the laundry hamper, let along the laundry room. Your hair is in a constant state of disarray. With bagsunder your eyes that seem to exponentially multiply with each rising of the sun, you are amazed – and more than a little annoyed—that your husband finds it necessary to enter a sexual feeding frenzy, wanting to enter via the same small door from which the equivalent of a bag and a half of pure sugar had recently exited. Still, it never always gets worse, right? Nope. Sometimes it gets much worse.
But just when all hope is lost, the babe’s eyes lock with yours as she lay in your arms after screaming at the top of her lungs for what seems to be a century or so. It is two o’clock in the morning. The house is quiet now, save the tick-tock of the nursery clock and the gentle sucking slurp generated while the baby nurses. Occasionally, she pauses to let out a contended sigh. Your fingers reach out to tickle her cheek, encouraging her to continue nursing. She does, snuggling even tighter into the crook of your arm as you continue to be her sole focus. Your own heart performs a complicated flip-flop, overflowing with love.
Perhaps all those challenges of mothering that leave us disheveled and distraught, leave crumbs on the floor and clothes in the dryer for days on end—maybe, just maybe—those things do not always get worse. Perhaps these things should be expected. These overwhelming feelings of inadequacy and sudden gushes of unexpected tears are simply part of being a mom, new or otherwise. It is a part of life that all too soon will pass.
Remember, it never always gets worse. It does get better. Promise.
God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you
may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. (Romans 15:13)