I didn’t comprehend how intensely hard it would be. I didn’t fathom how much a body could endure and recover from. I didn’t expect it to take so long to get my strength back or to not hurt, much less feel like a whole, fully functioning, emotionally healthy woman. I didn’t anticipate the identity crisis with body image- emotionally, sexually, and even spiritually.
I’m still learning to take care of myself. Being a mom exposes my deepest flaws- my impatience, fears, my selfishness, but also my pride in not giving myself enough grace and rest. I realize that all I want for you begins with all I overcome and receive for myself. I have never been more aware of my need for the constant presence of Jesus, not only to sustain me for the challenges, but to find fulfillment and sheer joy in.
Before you came, I suspected the hardest physical change (longer term) to accept would be lack of sleep, and it was true. You came into my life with bright eyes and a beautiful heart, but with the seeming inability to give in to effortless sleep. I’ve adapted, but there are some days it’s extra hard. Like last night: Mother’s Day Eve. How ironic. Nothing I did could get you to settle.
Were you still hungry? Are you not gaining weight because you aren’t getting enough? Why do you keep waking up? Why are you whimpering? Do you want comfort? Ok, lay safely next to me. No? Ok, it’s a burp. You finally sleep, and I should too. But instead I have mixed emotions. My first Mother’s Day weekend with you on the outside was actually one of the hardest mothering moments. Too little sleep, teething, social events, and just…coming to grips with the hard and the beautiful again.
In my short life, I’ve discovered that money and kids are probably two of the biggest reasons couples fall apart. In our birth classes, we learned that babies have the potential to break or make a relationship. The statistics show that only 19% showed an improved relationship post-baby. Your dad and I made a promise to be in that number, and we fight for it every day. Not just for ourselves, but for you. I think what makes the difference is not the hardship; many things in life are hard. Parenthood tests your foundation and your commitment, but most importantly, if you let it, it expands your love.
I don’t tell you all these things so you feel unwanted. I tell you because I want you to know you are worth it. It was worth it the first moment I held your soft body against my chest. Through sobs leftover from the pain and adrenaline of crowning and birth, my first words were, “She is so beautiful!” I was in complete shock and completely enraptured at the miracle I was touching for the first time after 9 long months of carrying you. I watched in awe as the protective vernix absorbed and disappeared into your skin as a moisturizer on its own. I smelled your head and touched your black hair and tiny fingers.
You were terrifyingly incredible and so very real for the first time. I didn’t know how to handle such a gift. Sometimes I still don’t, but now you are familiar. I know your little quirks and silly shrieks when I tickle your belly. I know that you like having your back stroked just like me. That was all that settled you to sleep a minute ago.
There are so many things I don’t know. That’s parenthood! I don’t think I’ll ever have it all figured out, but we’re on this adventure together, and it is beautiful. We’ll discover so many treasures along the way. You are a mighty world changer, and I will do my best to call that out of you.
Happy Mother’s Day to my daughter. You have changed me forever, and I’m deeply grateful. I’m so glad you aren’t the boy I thought I wanted, because Alexandra Honor is better than my dreams. I love you fiercely, and always will.