The "Why's" in Motherhood
(I wrote this article a last year, when our first son was a little older than one.)
Some days I wonder why. Why my life looks like it does.
The past four days or so have been rough; Levi came down with fevers and couldn't sleep, which means we all haven't had good nights of sleep. His fevers stopped but a rash showed up - little pink/red spots all over his body. His throat has been hurting and he hasn't been eating.
The fevers started in my body and wiped me right out. Now, as I sit on the couch with a burnt out overhead light and cold rain falling outside -- I too have the little pink/red spots.
I sit here questioning, why. Being a mother is hard work; I didn't know the full extent of the work until I was in it, which is a good thing. It's exhausting. It's so many days of being home, just Levi and me, trying to be creative and get his juices flowing and help him learn. It's lonely. It's constant housework, cleaning in circles, trying to relax when things break and little hands put foreign objects in places they don't belong. It's going to parks and playgrounds and seeking out venues that may have other children he can play with.
It's a separation from life before. I think maybe this is the hardest part. So many times I ask God why He surprised us with a baby so soon. We wanted kids, absolutely, but we wanted some time first. Time to get to know each other as married people, instead of just dating; time to explore and go on dates and have a flexible schedule.
For the most part, our friends and former classmates are still in the single/dating phases of life. Many of them are traveling the world, going to parties, having dinners out, going on road trips at the drop of a hat.
And here I sit next to a pile of toys strewn across the floor, having just scrubbed the bathroom down.
I traded the traveling and exploring for kid's museums and loud playgrounds. The dinners out are so few and far between; instead, we try to convince a toddler that green food is okay and I rarely spend an entire meal in my seat. The orderly, cohesive home I started out with quickly became overrun with toys -- toys that have even made their way to centerpieces on the coffee table.
It's only been a little over a year, and I wonder if maybe this parenthood thing is a lifelong adjustment -- it's not a one-and-done thing the moment your child is welcomed into the family. Your heart and your mind and your strength rise and fall with the ebb and flow of this new life.
It's a new life that many of our friends can't relate to; and we can no longer relate to theirs. It's the separation that plops me on the couch or leans me against the table and begs the question, why?
Why now, why not a little later? Why first -- why not after a couple of our friends? Why the feeling as though our freedoms have been stripped, my identity and interests put on the back burner until who knows when? Why is it so hard?
I'll admit, I took a break from writing this post. First because nap time was over, but also to process and pray some more. Sometimes these life changes hit me hard. I decided to let my creative juices flow, regardless of what Levi was doing. So we rearranged the living room while he ran around and delayed our progress. But it helped perk me back up and show me that my own interests are still valid and necessary.
Some days I wish I could go out with friends, walk through the city at night, have a day to myself. But I've realized and reminded myself of a few things that I think are important --
- Just because it's a "no" right now doesn't mean it always will be. And as babies get older and more self-sufficient, outings and flexibility can happen. And, babysitters are there for a reason.
- Instead of waiting for the empty-nest years to do the fun things, do the fun things now -- with kids. It can be fun if I choose to make it fun.
- Motherhood is a gift. Children are gifts. If I have been privileged enough to have a child, I want to make the most of this calling. It's a blessing to have a little one to raise, nurture, direct, and provide for. It's a greater depth of love and sacrifice than I'd known before Levi came to being; in all its hardships and struggles, it's an incredible love.
The dirt and messes and shrieking may not get easier. But I pray my view of them continues to change, even if it's a slow adjustment. Instead of fighting the new normals in my life, I think I'd do best to allow God to soften me and change my focus. To see that He's given me the gift of motherhood, and to embrace it and learn to wholeheartedly love it. It's one of God's most amazing gifts -- I certainly want to cherish it.