Two years ago, God blessed us with a beautiful little baby girl. She was a gift we surely did not deserve, but one we held with such humble pride, knowing God had chosen us for that very moment, that very miracle, and that life-changing moment.
For years, I prayed I would be a mom. At the time, I thought being a mom meant actually giving birth to a child, but I have since learned that God blesses women daily with the chance to be a “mom” all throughout life. Whether it be volunteering in nursery, to working with children in ministry, to just helping a little one with a need. Then our years and years of prayers were answered when we found out I was given the green light to have a child, after countless appointments filled with disappointment that the risk was too high. Thus began the journey to one of the most influential experiences of my life – raising a precious child in our home.
I will be the first to admit, I did not and do not have a CLUE what I am doing! Though I will say, God has taught me a few things. I am not a pro and never will be; especially since I have only had “practice” with one child. Though I wanted to share some of the things that I know now, that I wish I knew then:
- The days are long, but the years fly by. I remember days when I thought they would never end. I feel horrible saying that, but I was spent and Mazy was spent. And we just cried together. But I look back at those days and believe it or not, they are a bit of a blur. In fact, I asked Dan a few days okay, “did Mazy really cry that much?” He reminded me of when he had his shooting ear muffs on to prevent the piercing screams from touching his ear drums and he said “um, yes.” God clearly and graciously has blocked some of those days out of my mind, and it’s the pictures I now have to look back on of her smiling and loving life! And now I look at our little 2 year old and am thankful for those days. To all the moms out there, there are days that seem never ending. Surviving them seems like a marathon. But they will pass and God’s grace WILL fill every one of them.
- It’s OKAY. It’s okay if you can’t produce enough milk to breastfeed. We live in a broken world where EVERYTHING is effected by sin – even breastfeeding. It didn’t work for me due to the medications I was on, and I wish I would have just given in sooner. It would’ve saved me a heap of trouble and stress. It’s okay if your body doesn’t go back to what it looked like before – you know what? It probably never will. And to me, that’s a beautiful thing! It’s okay if you say no to something, to protect yourself and family. I remember trying to do what I could with youth group and keep living the life before having a child as much as we could, but our child thrived off routine and a schedule. And I should’ve realized that earlier. Because she wasn’t a great sleeper, she often needed to just be home and that was the BEST thing that happened for me too. It allowed me to rest, as my body needed rest too.
- Your child WILL sleep. I didn’t understand it – they say the more the baby sleeps, the better they sleep. Yeah; try telling that to someone who’s child struggles to sleep! But again, I admit, IT’S TRUE. Mazy has never slept better. It took her almost 2 years to finally get the hang of sleep – something I was NOT prepared for. I was in the mindset of the books, that she should sleep through the night by 3 months. Folks, books are not the Bible. The Bible is the Bible – and the Bible says that each child is fearfully and wonderfully made. Each child is unique and different in their own way. Not going to lie, living on 4-5 hours of sleep consistently isn’t always easy (and sometimes less), but it was when I let others get into my head, telling me that Mazy really should be sleeping through the night, that I doubted my parenting. But hearing her cry for hours and hours just wasn’t what I felt was best at the time (especially since she had ear infections, colds, anxiety, etc.). She needed her mama. And looking back, I am glad I cared for her as I did – yes I got frustrated after sleeping for 15 minutes and her waking up again, but as my doctor said, she WILL figure it out. And she did.
- There is typically a reason. I know that sometimes kids cry for no reason. But I have learned that really, there is always a reason, which has made me have a bit more grace for every situation. Instead of thinking “this” is how Mazy should be acting, I try to ask myself “why” she is acting the way she is. Is she hungry? Is she tired? Is she bored? Does she just need some love? Does she hurt somewhere? Does she even have an itch, but doesn’t know what to do? When kids do not talk, you think about how frustrating that must be! Sometimes just taking that step back, instead of acting out of reaction, think about what is causing the meltdown or tears. It has made a world of difference when I choose to see life through her eyes and not my preconceived notions.
- God is worth EVERY bit of your time. Never have I relied on God more, than after having Mazy. Having her opened my eyes to a whole new chapter of my faith, realizing that without God, I would not be the mom I am. God has given me grace when I needed it most, has answered my prayers when I least expected it, and continually shows me what unconditional love is, which I can’t help but try and show our daughter as well. My time with God looks a little different – it’s not deeply spent in a Bible study, but is spent in the early mornings, rocking Mazy back to sleep, praying during nap time, or while sitting outside while she plays in the sandbox. Spending time in the word is essential, but so is spending time with God. It doesn’t have to be this specific set aside time, but any given moment. He will not disappoint – I will promise.
There have been so many lessons I have learned in this new chapter of motherhood. This is just a sampling of the things I wish I knew then. And I am sure you have many lessons that you have learned throughout life, that you wish you knew way back when. Aren’t they though, just a daily reminder of God’s overwhelming love, grace, and mercy in our lives? It just puts me in awe.
What do you know now, that you wish you knew back when?