Tag Archives: motherhood

A new kind of brave

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It has been a hard five months for our little family.  Nothing cataclysmic, just many small stressors piled one on top of another.  A trip to Haiti (more on that some day.  I’ve tried writing about my experiences and it comes out sounding whiny and depressing.  So I’m tucking it away and trusting that God will make sense of it in time).  A ridiculously busy, stressful summer.  Sickness.  Some health challenges.  General, run-of-the-mill relationship frustrations.  None of it huge, but together they have been exhausting.

Oh, and I’m pregnant.  With a girl!

I found out I was expecting about two weeks before leaving for Haiti.  I spent the summer battling constant nausea while chasing a one year old.  Good Times!  We really are super excited – despite the rough start.  I know the immense blessing and miracle this new little life is.

But I am also completely overwhelmed and scared.  It’s not so much about having two kids 19 months apart.  That will certainly be crazy and I might not leave the house for months.  For real.  I’m not worried about having enough love for two kids – enough sanity, yes, but my journey to falling in love with my son taught me a host of things about how love grows and how faithful God is to provide for us.

I am frightened of what it means to raise this baby girl into womanhood.  I knew from the moment I saw that little pink plus sign that I was having a daughter.  I think God told me right away so that I would have some time to process this new reality before sharing the official news with the world.  It kind of gives the wrong impression when you tell people you’re having a girl while crying and looking terribly disappointed, eh?

I feel so ill-equipped to mother a girl.  Boys feel more comfortable, make more sense to me.  Heck, girls make no sense to me and I am one!  I’ve never felt like I fit into the “girl” world – a strange thing to say in this 21st century liberated world of ours, where views of femininity can run the gamut.  I hate shopping.  I’ve never liked to talk on the phone – or any of the social media equivalents.  I refused to wear pink until I was well into my twenties.  I like movies where things blow up.  What if my daughter is a pink-wearing, princess-loving, social media maven and I have no idea how to connect with her?  What if (gasp!) she makes me go to the mall with her?!?

But seriously, it’s that crazy, always changing notion of femininity that has me trembling.  How can I teach her what it means to be a woman when I’ve never been sure myself?  How do I keep from passing on to her the insecurities I have wrestled with for years?  More importantly, how do I teach her what it means to be a woman who loves God when our culture screams destructive messages, and I’m not sure I always agree with the image of womanhood often presented in the evangelical church?  How do I respect who she is – her personality and likes and talents – while guiding her to love Jesus and obey Him?

This is a new kind of brave.  It isn’t an event or task (my comfort zone!).  It is investing in this little person long-term.  It is relationship.  It is facing my own shortcomings and faults.  it is making mistakes and asking forgiveness.  It is gracefully, openly, with abandon loving my daughter even if I don’t always understand the things that make her squeal with delight.  It is a much harder Brave.

Oh, but there is love, too!  I am already madly in love with her, even if all I know about her is her feisty kicks and steady heartbeat.  I cannot wait to cup that little face in my hands and kiss her perfectly misshapen baby head.  Getting to know her will be full of adventure and discovery.  It will be full of joy and anticipation, like unwrapping the very best Christmas present ever.

Five Minute Friday!

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I met a group of ladies a week ago who a part of a unique an wonderful writing community. Five Minute Fridays is a chance for us to write for five minutes, unedited, on a prompt provided by our lovely hostess Lisa-Jo Baker. This is my first link-up (yeah, it’s Monday but the weekend was nuts!) so with nervous fingers I write about…

GRACE

We names our son Johnathan.  The baby name books said his name meant “gift from God” and he certainly was that, a little bundle of smiles and big blue eyes we weren’t sure we could have.  Since then I have learned a better translation is “God is gracious.”  This seems even more appropriate.  His grace pours out daily through me and through this little man.  Grace covers the mistakes I make as a new mama.  Graces gently relieves me of the burden of perfection.  Grace gives me the joy to be a mama when I miss my job and my profession.

Grace is often defined as giving us what we don’t deserve.  Who of us deserves the privilege of  pushing new life into the world?  Of holding a tiny human that God knit together deep inside us?  Johnathan’s mere existence is a miracle of DNA and cells and chromosomes that takes my breath away.  That God would chose, would allow, women full of sin and shame and brokenness to bring new life into the world speaks a hope to my soul.  And for me, the woman who fervently declared she would never be a mom, who shied away from motherhood like it was a contagious plague, that He has allowed this pride-filled heart to love a son of my own is a shocking gift of kindness that makes no sense in the economy of earn-and-deserve.  He truly is gracious.

Five Minute Friday

Never say never

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You’d think I would have learned by now that saying, “I will never…” is a really dumb idea.  Inevitably that is the very place life takes me.  I said I would never live in Texas (no offense, Texas) and I took a 6 month internship outside of Dallas.  I said I would never have kids, and currently my 4 month old son is playing upstairs with his dad.  You get the idea.

It looks like God is getting ready to lead me into another one of those Nevers.  I didn’t go looking for it. I’m not sure I want it.  And, quite frankly, it scares me.  One might deduce that God likes for us to suffer through Things We Don’t Like.  Or worse, He has some perverse sense of humor.

But I think those Nevers are signs of a deeper heart issue.  When I take a moment to reflect on why I say never I realize there is something causing me to refuse.  Selfishness, fear, greed, or even loving the wrong things can lead us to draw those lines in the sand.  It really is an issue of control.  Do I trust God to direct my life even if He takes me to places that are uncomfortable, scary or unwanted?  Will I let Him pry my white knuckles from the reigns?  Sometimes He leads us to do those Nevers.  Sometimes the struggle and surrender is the real issue, and when the wrestling is over we realize life has taken a different turn.  Either way the process is part of our heart’s refining – I think the outcome is secondary to God’s desire to make us more like Him.

My refusal to have children stemmed from old heartaches and fears that convinced me that to have a child was to risk rebellion and heartache.  I had seen the pain parenting can cause and I wanted no part of it.  God also revealed a deep, deep selfishness.  I didn’t want to share the time or resources or energy necessary to be a parent.  Discovering this selfishness lead me to a place of surrender.  I knew that, children or not, I did’t want my life to be guided by such ugly motivations.  I told God that if He wanted me to have children, He would have to change my heart to want them.  Slowly, over a period of months, He did just that.

The Never I am facing right now makes my stomach churn.  There is still much uncertainty about what God is asking.  But this time I want to face it with wide eyes, aware of the reasons I resist and willing to examine those with Him.

 

Becoming a mom takes time

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JD at ten weeks

My son is ten weeks old and he is just beginning to feel like my own child.  I knew I birthed him – the stretch marks and hours of drug-free labor testified to that fact.  But there was no magical moment of bonding in the hospital, no instantaneous sense of love and mommy-fierce protection.  Friends, family, even strangers would say, “Isn’t it amazing how deeply you love them at first sight?  How you would do anything for them?”  I would smile and nod, cringing inside because I was lying.  I did not feel that way.  There were days when I would have done anything to put him back.  Yet I did not feel comfortable to admit that to anyone but my husband and parents.  All the fears and doubts I had about becoming a mom resurfaced and harassed me every day.  I felt broken and incapable of being a loving mother.

Slowly, ever so slowly, I began to connect with Little Man.  We began to find solutions for some of the early frustrations that kept me irritable and resentful.  The post-partum depression medicine kicked in and provided my bruised emotions with some much needed relief.  And more importantly I heard other women say the same tough things I was feeling.  That motherhood is hard and bonding is not always instantaneous.  That falling in love takes time.  That I was not alone.  There were late nights when tears streamed down my face as I read a blog post that touched the raw places in me, my body weary with breast-pumping and sleep deprivation and my heart numb with the weight of it all.  God used a friend who, at the encouragement of my husband, was intentionally intrusive at a time when I was too lonely and scared to reach out.  She stepped in, cared for me, and shared some of her own struggles with being a new mama in a way that gave me hope.

And in the background the gentle hand of that Great Comforter began to whisper words of love, peace and even joy in the dry places.  The Spirit stirred in me in ways that I had not felt in over two and a half years.  I was starting to breathe again.  It is slow, faltering work using these atrophied heart muscles.  God is gracious and His mercies are new every morning and these are the words I recite to myself on those days when my heart is too heavy to get out of bed.  He is faithful and He will shape and grow me into the mama I never dreamed I would be.