NOTE: This is part two of a post I published on my old blog back in 2014. In this post, I share with you how motherhood has changed me and what I have learnt since becoming a mommy.
One day, I may write about what it’s like to be a mom of two but for now, I hope that you will be encouraged by what you read!
Part Two: 347 days and counting of living in the aftermath of pregnancy as perfectly ruined...
“Motherhood is a great honour and privilege, yet it is also synonymous with servanthood. Every day women are called upon to selflessly meet the needs of their families. Whether they are awake at night nursing a baby, spending their time and money on less-than-grateful teenagers, or preparing meals, moms continuously put others before themselves. “
– Charles Stanley
– Jessalyn Gilsig
And now my life will never be the same again!
From poopy diapers to dealing with gas to sleepless nights, this porcelain skinned, black-haired and then blue-eyed beauty is my responsibility.
And now my life will never be the same again.
When she cries, she cries for me.
When she’s hungry, she going to fuss for me to feed her.
When she feels like she needs to be held, she tries with all she’s got to get my attention.
When she tired and ready to nap, she comes to me so that I can rock her to sleep.
When she falls or hurts herself, she cries for my comfort.
Her every need has to be met by me, after all, I am her mother.
But here’s the thing with this motherhood gig: no one ever tells you just how much it grows you, stretches you and and sometimes just plain blows you right apart with all the responsibilities and feelings it evokes.
No one ever tells you that you’ll begin thinking in ways that you’ve never entertained before. Fears you’ve never known had will somehow find their way into your heart. Dreams you’ve never envisioned start filling your mind and taking time for yourself will feel like a precious commodity. You will no longer be the person who you thought you were.
That little soul that enters into your life will challenge and change you in ways you’ve never even imagined!
"...as her and I were wheeled from the delivery room to our ward, there were a whole lot of emotions coursing through my body – relief, fear, elation and fatigue – but one realisation started dawning on me and has since settled into my mind with piercing clarity: this gorgeous human who has become so dear and precious to me is wholeheartedly my responsibility. And now my life will never be the same again!"
Being her mother for the last 347 days has taught me:
No.1: I don’t have it all together and that’s okay!For a super-perfectionist like myself, this realisation has been a big pill to swallow but the relief that it has brought me since is almost indescribable!
Now just in case you think that I am exaggerating things, allow me to confess to you just how unapologetically strong of a perfectionist I am:
I like to fold my clothes in a certain way – going from dark colours to light colours. The light ones (starting from white) are on top of the pile and the dark colours (ending in black) are at the bottom of the pile and I have a specific order for how I fold my tops – from long sleeves to short sleeves to tank tops. And I also pack them according to how loose or tight they fit.
So for example, I will fold and pack dark coloured, loose fitting t-shirts at the bottom of the pile and gradually build my way up to light coloured loose fitting t-shirts. I will then repeat this procedure for tight fitting t-shirts; tank tops and spaghetti strapped tops.
I pack my shoes in a certain way: high heels are packed at the back of my wardrobe (and yes, the dark to light “t-shirt principle” applies here too) with my tallest heels being packed at the furthermost end of the wardrobe working my way down to the lowest heels. My flat shoes (which happen to be the ones I wear the most often) are right at the start of my wardrobe.
Sound doubly crazy?
But I would like to think that there is some method to my madness.
And finally, I have often been told – especially by my older sisters when we used to share a room growing up – that I make my bed as if it were in a classy hotel.
My response: you mean I can enjoy having a classy, hotel-like bed without having to pay the classy hotel prices?
Besides, who doesn’t appreciate a well-made bed!
They were just being haters, lol!
From reading all of the above, I’m pretty sure that you have gathered that I am painfully meticulous and through. In my mind, I do things in this way because I like for things to be done with efficiency and with excellence. Now whether this trait is something I was born with or whether it’s something I have adopted over the years because of mistakes I have made and witnessed, I wouldn’t be able to tell you. What I do know is that my drive toward perfection is something that I live my life by…or at least it was until I got married and furthermore, had a baby. This is not to say I have fully changed and I am now no longer a perfectionist.
Nothing could be further from the truth!
I still like having order, structure and routine in my life, but I am learning that I cannot make these things my goal in life. Sure, I love for things to be orderly but let’s face it: the whole world we live in is a mess! And I am no exception!
"But here’s the thing with this motherhood gig: no one ever tells you just how much it grows you, stretches you and and sometimes just plain blows you right apart with all the responsibilities and feelings it evokes...So, with the hormones that come with post-partum and breastfeeding I have come to see that the little girl who first lived in my body and now lives in my home and heart is a God-send. Through her, I have come to understand certain things about myself, my husband and my faith that I never quite got before her arrival. Even though she is so small, God is already using her in great ways in my life."
And no matter how much time anyone spends fixing things, cleaning things and trying to get things just right, this world still remains a mess. And no matter how hard I work at getting things right and doing things perfectly, I am still a mess.
And that’s okay!
Am I saying that we shouldn’t try to work on making things better? No.
Am I saying that all efforts to try and set this world right is futile? No.
Am I saying that people need to stop trying to better themselves? No.
All I am saying is that living in the mess that is our lives serves a great purpose: it helps us see that something bigger than ourselves is holding us together. God’s hand is at work in our lives even if we don’t see it and even if we don’t feel like it is.
When great joy enters our lives…God is in control.
When disaster strikes…God is in control.
When we feel like life is just mellow…God is in control.
Through all seasons and circumstances of life, God is in control of it all and that knowledge should take a load off our shoulders regardless of whether you’re a perfectionist or not.
For me, it has taken off the pressure of always trying to get it right. Of always being perfect. I am not. In fact, I’m a wreck and that’s okay because God has it all in control. Before, I used to think that I always had to have all my ducks in a row and make it all look so effortless but the more I grow over the years and the more I walk with the Lord, I keep understanding anew that I was never called to have it all together or even make it look like I had. I don’t need to fake it ’til I make it because the truth is that there is no making it outside of God! He has already made it and all I need to do is rest in Him and trust in Him to continue bringing to completion the good work which He has started in me.
"I still like having order, structure and routine in my life,...but let’s face it: the whole world we live in is a mess! And I am no exception!"
I will say that with this realisation, there has been another one in its wake which I’m also having to wrap my mind around: God is not merely in control for me. God is in control because He is God! The control which He exercises over my life is simply one demonstration of His ultimate, supreme and sovereign power.
I feel like saying that God is in control for me makes Him sound like nothing more than a glorified P.A! God is not merely in control of my life in order to help keep things in their rightful place so that life doesn’t get too overwhelming for me.
No. God is in control because HE IS GOD!
And seeing how He chooses to exact His power, His influence and His control over my life should make me humble and should invoke praise from my heart. The thought that there is a God who chooses to love me and concern Himself with the ongoings of my life should make me fall on my face and praise Him as the Almighty One.
No.2: Take the suffering along with the good
So, as I already mentioned in part one of this blog – I had an awful pregnancy! I won’t recount it all again here but if you’d like to, perhaps read part one (if you haven’t already). But what I do want to say about my pregnancy is that it showed me that I am always only ever too ready to receive and part-take of God’s rich and glorious blessings that I sometimes forget that as a believer, I am also called to share in Christ’s suffering. And here’s the thing, this call to share in Christ’s suffering isn’t in the small print part of the “sign-up for being saved from eternal hellfire” document.
(Oh, and by the way, there is no hellfire document so…chill.)
The call to share in Christ’s suffering is right in your face! If there was a poster advertising Christianity, then suffering should be plastered all over it! To tell people that they can be saved and not tell them that they are also called to share in Christ’s suffering is like riding a roller-coaster without being buckled in!
Short-lived experience! Not a pretty ending!
The fact is that we are called to suffer with Christ not because God is some sicko who secretly relishes seeing His children suffer but because suffering has a point to it. In my personal life, I have come to realise a few things that pain and suffering have taught me:
"Through all seasons and circumstances of life, God is in control of it all and that knowledge should take a load off our shoulders regardless of whether you’re a perfectionist or not."
1: It helps me learn
I have sadly found this to be true in my life: when things are going well, I’m not always super motivated to spend time with God and seek His face. Instead, I am more concerned with losing weight, trying to establish the perfect balance between being a stay-at-home and work-from-home Mom and being a good wife, friend and daughter.
It’s sad but it’s true.
But, I have observed that when things begin spinning out of whack in my life, that’s when I begin seeking God and pleading with Him. That’s when I begin living in an awareness of His presence and that’s when I am more sensitive to His voice. That’s when I begin seeing how desperate I am for Him and that fuels me to seek Him until I find Him. It’s almost like I need suffering or pain to help me course-correct.
It’s sad but it’s true.
Now I just want to make something very clear…
In no way am I insinuating that God is some kind of mean or cruel control freak who sends chaos and pain my way in order to keep me in check. Like I said before, God is not some kind of weird sicko.
Instead, I have found that sometimes God uses suffering in order to teach and remind me that I shouldn’t be too attached to the things of this world because this world is not the final destination. This world is not home!
I am living in the hope that one day, I will be in Heaven with God. One day, I will be in my real home. And when I suffer, this is the hope which I can rest on which helps get me through the tough times. So suffering offers me perspective. Good and clear perspective.
"If there was a poster advertising Christianity, then suffering should be plastered all over it! To tell people that they can be saved and not tell them that they are also called to share in Christ’s suffering is like riding a roller-coaster without being buckled in!"
2: Suffering shouldn’t affect my worship
Yes, worship comes a whole lot easier when things are going well. It’s easy to sing that God is in control when there isn’t a situation in my life where I need God to calm the storm that rages.
It’s easy to say that God is a provider when my stomach is full and there’s plenty of food in the pantry.
It’s easy to proclaim that God has overcome death when I’m not having to bury someone.
It’s easy to profess God is my healer when I am healthy.
But here’s the thing…can I still worship God when ideal circumstances cease?
When I’m hungry, when I’m poor, when I’m hurting and when I’m sick, can I still worship God not because of what He has done for me but because He is God and therefore worthy of my worship? I don’t know about you but as much as I would like to say, “Yes I will still worship God” the truth is that sometimes – in fact, more than I would like – my circumstances often dictate my worship.
It’s sad but it’s true.
But here’s the ultimate truth of the matter: God hasn’t stopped being good just because the things I am going through are bad.
God is the giver of all good things but that doesn’t mean that He always gives us these gifts in wrapping that we’ll like.
No.3: This too shall pass
When I was pregnant and feeling particularly down on some days, my husband would often say to me, “You’re feeling so down because right now, you just can’t remember what it’s like to feel healthy. But once the baby comes and you start feeling better, you’ll realise that what we’re going through is just a phase. You’ll get better babe! We’re going to make it through this together!”
Yes, I know! He is the sweetest!
But to be quite honest with you, I didn’t think he was so sweet at the time! In fact, I would get quite mad at him. In my mind, I kept thinking: “Oh, it’s easy for you to say because you’re not the one throwing up and being hospitalized on a regular basis!” But in hindsight, I realise now that I wasn’t mad at my husband because what he was saying was annoying, but rather, I was mad at him because what he was saying was right.
"Instead, I have found that sometimes God uses suffering in order to teach and remind me that I shouldn’t be too attached to the things of this world because this world is not the final destination. This world is not home!"
In essence what he was saying to me was, “This too shall pass” and ultimately in my heart of hearts I knew that but I had allowed myself to become so consumed and focus on my present circumstances that I forgot this truth.
And in embracing this truth, I came to realise it brought me much peace.
You see, the trick is to not get caught up in the phase that you’re currently going through – and believe me, I know that it is as hard as it sounds!
No.4: Yes, Jesus loves me
Being a wife and mother means wearing many hats! And sometimes being caught up in all the roles I’m supposed to embody can take the focus off God and who He is and just how much He loves me. Becoming a mother has in some senses also made me into a new born baby. I am finding that just as my daughter begins living in this world and interacting with it; engaging it; wrestling with it and learning from it as I guide, direct and protect her, I too am my Heavenly Father’s baby. He is the one guiding, directing and protecting me.
"…can I still worship God when ideal circumstances cease? When I’m hungry, when I’m poor, when I’m hurting and when I’m sick, can I still worship God not because of what He has done for me but because He is God and therefore worthy of my worship?"
This journey of motherhood has given me a whole new appreciation for what it means to a child of God.
It means having the same kind of explicable and unshakable trust that a child has in a parent. Demonstrating the same kind of love that a child shows towards their parent. And most importantly – at least, this has been the most important and profound revelation for me – thriving in the love that that Father demonstrates towards me as His child!
For me, this means that when things go wrong and I am feeling as though the trail or struggle that I am going through is too great, I can rest assured in the fact that Jesus loves me! I don’t need to feel like God is somehow punishing me or that He somehow doesn’t love or even like me.
I don’t need to be shaken! Why?
Because I know that I know that I know that Jesus loves me!
And because of the certain knowledge that I am loved, I can thrive! Just as I see my little girl thrive in my love for her. How I see her thrive in my love day in and day out is a small scale replica of what my life needs to mirror on a greater scale as I learn to trust and thrive in God’s love for me. And the day I truly and consistently begin to live in this way will probably be the first day that I have ever truly lived!
I don’t know about you but I am ready to begin living!
So here goes!
In conclusion, here I am in the aftermath of pregnancy:
-the suffering that I once thought would never end, has.
-the rose tinted glasses I had going into this whole motherhood thing are off.
-the false beliefs I strongly clung to about myself are on a life long journey of being dispelled.
I am now living in the aftermath as perfectly ruined…and I wouldn’t have it any other way!