I knew becoming a mother would be a challenge, but I didn’t know what I had all signed up for when I became a mother.
Nope. Not even half of it.
Women imagine the pain of labor, but not many have heard of the recovery. Then, there’s the soreness of first adjusting to nursing. There are the sleepless nights, when you stand rocking and bouncing a screaming baby for hours when your groggy mind can hardly think of anything beyond your extreme weariness.
There are the days when your greatest wish is only a few more hours of uninterrupted sleep and when you daydream of putting your head down on a soft, downy pillow. You glamorize the elusive activity called “sleep.”
You hear the stories about motherhood, but you can’t fully imagine it until you have experienced it.
But then, no one call tell you the indescribable joy when you feel your body give the final push and a precious new life enters the world! No one can describe the euphoria when you hold that warm little body in your arms! No one can explain that even when your body screams for more sleep, you manage to still jump out of bed to feed a hungry baby. No one can explain the moment when you first fall in love with the babe in your arms — the moment when that unique bond between a mother and her baby forms.
You don’t fully understand a love that would be willing to die for another until you hold your own child in your arms.
Dreams of becoming a mother don’t normally include the temper tantrums, the potty-training nightmares and messes, the melt-downs at the grocery store, the broken furniture or marker writing on walls.
Prior to motherhood, one doesn’t comprehend the heart-break, the tears, the fears, the bravery, the selflessness, the sacrifices, the exhaustion, and all the prayers that go into mothering.
Prior to motherhood, one can’t experience the laughter and shared giggles over tickles, cuddles, books, and picking buttercups with your child. One can’t imagine the contentment in holding a Wooly Bear Caterpillar so your toddle can feel the soft “wool”. One can’t imagine the laughter that bubbles up when you see the berry stains on your child’s face from snacking while berry-picking together.
One can’t imagine the sadness when your little one comes running to you with tears making streaks down a muddy face while blood runs down a cut knee. One can’t imagine the pain of holding your screaming child while the doctor gives a shot or sews stitches into a gash.
One can’t imagine the joys and fears of the first time you send your child off on the school bus or the anger you feel when your child comes home in tears because of the cruelty of other children.
Parenting books can’t totally prepare you for the difficult questions, the perplexing personality conflicts, and the discipline infractions. There are no easy formulas for parenting. There are no “cookie-cutter” children. There are no perfect parents.
Photo albums don’t fully capture the joy and the wonder of watching your baby grow from toddler to pre-schooler to middle school age. Not even graduation and wedding photos capture the significance of watching that same child who once screamed in a grocery store aisle and wrote on your best furniture with markers standing tall and strong and beautiful while reciting forever vows to their beloved.
Parenting is an oxymoron of pleasurable and painful moments. It stretches you physically and emotionally and spiritually. Parenting reveals the limits of your own abilities and the weaknesses of your own personality. Parenting takes you to the heights of joy and plunges you to its depths. Parenting tests your willingness to grow and to be challenged. Parenting challenges the depth of your convictions and the height of your faith.
When you first watch the ligaments and skin stretch around the growing life within you, you never knew that the very essence of who you are would be stretched as well. You didn’t know that the pain while bearing down to deliver a baby and the euphoria afterwards would be just a foretaste of the pain and joy you would feel as you watched your child enter each new stage of growth in his/her world.
When you imagine parenting, you can’t imagine the exquisite beauty of it nor the pain that prostrates you to the floor. Becoming a mother means you not only surrender your body to stretch and grow in ways formerly unchallenged but you surrender your heart to be stretched beyond what you could have imagined.
Becoming a mother means you “sign up” for more than you envisioned, but it means you have the potential to grow beyond what you can foresee.