If you know me at all, or knew me when I was younger, or read my blog ever, you know that I love my children. I love my children so much that my heart might explode. I love them with a voracity that surprises me and even at times scares me. I cannot in any way, fathom a life in which I do not have these precious beings - these gifts that God has entrusted me with.
I love them to the depths of my soul.
From the time I was very young, I always wanted to be a mother. I also wanted to be a teacher, but that was secondary to my desire to be a mother. I thought I might teach in the years before and after having children, but the real career drive was to be a wife and mother - a mother to many children in fact.
After being married a few years, my dream of being a mother was about to be realized. I gave birth to a beautiful baby girl and I cried and I loved her and I held her in the hospital and I looked at her tiny precious face and thought I had never seen anything more beautiful.
Then I went home. And perhaps it was a bit of the baby blues, or hormones or a whacked out world in which I was now in charge of this human being, but I felt a little off. Life was not the same anymore, and while it was wonderful and I still thought this child was the most amazing gift to me EVER, I felt disoriented.
Three days after I had my baby, I was at home, struggling with nursing and pain and some lingering medical issues from childbirth. My mother-in-law, mother to two boys, was staying with us to help out. The following picture is incredibly vivid in my mind: The three (four, actually - my little babe was there too!) of us were sitting in our family room talking. And my husband said these words to my mother-in-law: "Now I know how people feel when they say they would run into a burning building for their child!"
The conversation went on, but I was left behind. I looked at them blankly and thought, "What is wrong with me? Would I really risk my life for this child? What kind of mother am I? This is my life long dream - my entire life's wish, and I am failing already? My baby's only 3 days old! How is this possible?"
It was a bit of an earth shattering moment for me. On the one hand, I was already desperately in love with my child. But on the other hand, my brain, my crazed post-pregnancy hormones, the pre-baby version of me, something, some part of my subconscious apparently didn't realize that I should be willing to risk my life for her.
Blessedly, my body evened out quickly and in the next few days, I began to feel more like myself, and I realized what had always been true, from the moment she was born: I would indeed risk my life for this child. But it was the first in a series of on-going lessons about motherhood.
That was my first dose of reality that motherhood was not this blissfully wonderful experience all of the time. It was hard and emotionally draining and exhausting and I felt like I was failing much of the time. Even now, 16 years later, I still battle those same anxieties and fears and worries. Parenting is unbelievably rewarding one moment, and unbelievably heart wrenching the next.
And so now, 16 years later, and 5 kids in, do I have it all figured out? Not even close. I have learned a lot of practical things along the way, but that is a list for another post. The most important thing I have learned about parenting is that it's all grace. We pray, and we pray and we pray some more. We do our best with the abilities we are given and then we have to trust that God will take these souls and work amazing things in them. And you know what? He does! In spite of my many, many failures as a mom, God has created some incredible people in our children. These children are ours for just a short time, His for eternity.
I'm thankful He knows I was the best one to mother them, faults and all.