In ten days time, I will have a one year old. I am in awe of that. For one year, it has been my responsibility to feed, nurture, protect, and pray over a little boy who is just now discovering a big world. I'm pretty proud of myself for making it this far! And you bet I will be having celebratory margaritas (plural) to commemorate this momentous year.
I could talk for days about motherhood. I could talk about how much it has challenged me, humbled me, and pushed me to my limits. I could talk about how my heart jumped when I saw my son smile at me for the first time. Or how I felt when I witnessed my husband become a father, and then fell in love with him all over again. I could talk about my postpartum depression. I could talk about the moments where I have cried out to the sky telling God that I just couldn't do this and he made a mistake making me a mom. I could talk about the blessings and pitfalls that each day brings now that I'm living a life that isn't meant for just me anymore.
I will talk about motherhood, but the truth is, there are no words to describe it. I would do my calling a great disservice if I tried to articulate the complexities of this vocation. It is simply a mystery. It is something that changes you so completely that it becomes your identity -- so much so, that you even get a new name: mom.
But you know what? This new aspect of my identity? My new name? It is beautiful. It is affirming. It is empowering. It is also really hard. And I can tell you one thing, motherhood is not for wimps. It takes some abnormal strength to grow a human for 9 months, birth that child into the world, then tackle the emotional roller coaster of feedings, nap schedules, and diaper changes.
Before children, whether you realize it or not, you are the center of the universe. The world is your oyster as they say! You are free to do what you want, when you want. Then here comes a baby and you are forced to put anothers needs over your own. The shift literally happens overnight. I experienced this so acutely during my first week of parenthood (ahem, mommy boot-camp) when my first priority was no longer making myself a nice cup of coffee in the morning, but tending to a crying baby who needed me. And that's a big wake up call for someone like me who desperately clings to the comforts of this world.
Let me paint you a picture of what those first few months look like: Remember the daily spa-like showers you used to take? Those are a distant memory. You'll most likely be found covered in spit up (even though you've changed clothes for the 5th time that day). Or you may be crying for no reason, because hormones are very, very real and that scares you. You second guess the tiniest decision because you decided to Google something and then you conclude that that is pretty much always a bad idea. Breastfeeding is a lot harder than you thought it was going to be. It's also the most painful thing ever and your eyes fill up in tears each time your baby latches. You've never been so tired in your life nor have you felt more alone. To top it all off, you have this unbearable weight on your chest that won't go away and you don't know why. You're in survival mode now.
That is the reality of it. It is not glamorous. You do not receive any thanks or recognition for your hard work. It is not full of flawless picture-worthy moments, despite what you see on social media. It is raw. It is tumultuous. But it is so, so good.
In my short year stint as a mother I've learned something: motherhood is the cross and the gospel. You die to yourself every. single. day. Being a mother rids every ounce of self-love and replaces it with a Divine Love that stretches you so completely that you turn into a new person -- a better person -- if you let it.
It will sanctify you. Your child will become the most tangible evidence of God's grace in your life. You will encounter Christ's boundless love and mercy in the eyes of your babies and it will bring you to your knees every night.
I don't think I truly understood what sacrificial love is until I had a child, but I know that this is only the beginning. From the depths of my soul, I thank God for the gift of this past year. This tiny person points me to heaven and teaches me how to live for something greater than myself. We love you Pier Francis, and we can't imagine a world without you in it.
*photos courtesy of Sierra Bunch Photography