I have no well-formed ideas in my head about what needs to make its way from thoughts in my mind to words on a page, but I’m telling myself that’s not so much what this is for, so it’s cool if I ramble a bit. You don’t mind, I’m sure?
Motherhood, man. It’s heartbreaking and crazy-making. Allow me to explain.
I was not one of those little girls who has been waiting my whole life for the day I’d start a brood of my own. I have still-vivid memories of just loathing babysitting as a teenager, and I was never one of those people who was just great with kids (or knew much of anything about them, for that matter). But let me tell you something just switched on when these babies of mine came along. I seriously think women immediately gain what I like to call MOM POWERS when that baby pops out of the womb (or walks into your life, if your babe originated in someone else’s womb). Some people are just born with them, but for people like me, they come upon entry into motherhood.
It’s a strange, powerful, new, fierce, DON’T MESS WITH MY PEOPLE kind of love that brings the MOM POWERS, and along with them, the heartbreak. And the crazy.
The heartbreak seems to manifest itself in two forms in these early days. The heart-wrenching you feel when your little person is struggling (or when you hear about someone else‘s little one who is seriously sick, or taken from them, or being mistreated or traumatized), and the heartache that comes from knowing deep in your bones you fall dreadfully short of what you believe these precious little souls need and deserve as a parent.
I do fairly well not to get overwhelmed with empathy when I encounter patients who are facing seemingly impossible challenges as a result of the world’s brokenness. But when one of the kids I see is having serious problems after something they have seen or experienced, it stays with me. When Nora will not fall asleep but is dead tired and I have to leave her crying, it is just agonizing; I get irritable and can barely focus on anything until she’s resting peacefully.
The crazy-making is related. Its what I believe naturally happens in the mind of a mother with the heartbreak who allows her mind to give in to her natural, fallen will. Not everyone struggles with serious anxiety, and not everyone is prone to worry, but I have to imagine that some form of this is in all of us to some degree. I find myself in the prone-to-worry category, but even for a worrier some self identifiably CRAZY THINGS run through my mind sometimes as it relates to my children.
Yesterday it stormed for like five seconds in the evening. On my drive home from work there was tonnns of lightning in the skies, but not much thunder (we called this heat lightning as a kid; I don’t know if that’s actually a thing). Nora is currently sleeping in our attic at night, in our guest bedroom. And I LITERALLY thought to myself Ahh I love all this lightning! Uh oh, what if Nora got struck by lightning because she’s at such a high point in the house? By the grace of God I heard my crazy self and told my crazy self OH MY GOODNESS YOU ARE TALKING ABOUT YOUR CHILD GETTING RANDOMLY STRUCK BY LIGHTNING INSIDE A HOUSE THAT HAS PROBABLY HAPPENED TO LIKE TWO HUMANS EVER AND THEY WERE PROBABLY STICKING WIRE HANGERS INTO THE LIGHT SOCKETS DURING A SEVERE THUNDERSTORM OR SOMETHING. But let me tell you, the crazies can spiral out of control sooooo fast, no matter how much of a reasonable human being you thought you were before children.
There’s something good at the heart of these instincts of course. It is a good thing that it is wired into our DNA for us to protect and sacrifice and feel deeply for our children in dramatic ways. They’re vulnerable, they’re small, they’re clumsy. We as humans need a lot of close support and supervision in the early months and years of our lives.
But this new fierce love that comes with motherhood has got to be stewarded well.
There is nothing in my short life that has made me feel more in need of help, guidance, direction, encouragement, grace, forgiveness, and the Gospel than motherhood. Entering into parenting a toddler and adding a second have just compounded my own proclivity to have some false sense of control over our lives, followed by regular and glaring reminders of my utter need for Christ.
Parenting is a daily grind. Christianity is a daily grind. Endurance, perseverance and repentance are not strong suits of mine. But I take comfort in knowing I have a Savior who knows me intimately and is patient to continue his work of sanctification in me, regardless of its pace. And that the Lord, who is mighty, is whom my children truly belong to. I only need to let go of my grasp on them and trust that He cares for them perfectly, immeasurably more than I ever could.