I didn't expect to get pregnant last year but I loved every moment of my pregnancy and even more, the actual birth. But I had more than a few friends confess that they weren't quite sure how I would take to motherhood. I understood - I'm not exactly the "mommy" type. You know, the crafty, homemade cookies and quilts, snuggle-up-for-comfort, gentle and warm everyone-loves-mama type.
But now that I have had abundant time to reflect on motherhood in the 18 weeks or so since my daughter's arrival, I can say that it is the most natural thing I have ever done. It is the absolute most certain I have ever been that I am doing something I am DESIGNED to do. And that’s not said lightly from me – I have been good at most things I’ve ever tried, I have a fair share of talent in a few areas, but this is more than a passion I’ve pursued or an accomplishment I’ve made. At every moment, no matter how difficult, I have this extreme peace that I was made to do this and an incredible confidence that I am doing it well (enough). What a pleasant surprise!
I have also realized that I have lots of qualities, perhaps untraditional, that bring so much to mothering. For example, I have an amazingly high stress tolerance – it’s very easy for me to remain calm in stressful circumstances; I love change, growth, personality development; and I’m not afraid to fail. That last one has got to be one of the best encouragements as a parent – I mean, my husband and I came from alarmingly dysfunctional families who had no faith working out in their lives, but we both turned out pretty decently. So how can I not be confident of raising this child, when I have one of the strongest marriages I know, rooted in an abiding and joyful faith, in a community of families to support us?!? I just can’t screw her up that much :-)
I’ve also begun to understand why so many parents can lose themselves in their children and forget themselves and their spouses. I believe that loving your spouse is the most rewarding, challenging, and amazing love there is but it is HARD to love a partner. A full person who brings experiences, mistakes, opinions, preferences, selfishness, etc into the marriage. It is hard to choose, every day, to love your spouse. It is much easier to stop loving them (in the heart and in actions). But how could you stop loving your child? I think it must be impossible. It is a different kind of love than marital love and much much much easier.
I like to see God’s love in both those relationships, to realize that since God created me, formed me, and put me out into the world, it is ‘easy’ for him to love me like a protective, providing, caring parent. To want the best for me. But that because I am constantly rejecting him, he also pursues me like a husband – that he ‘works’ to woo me, to serve me, to bring me into a deep and full relationship with himself.
So - the surprises continue! Every day is truly an adventure, and even though I'm not always eager to face it, I am amazed at the end of the day to reflect on how much I've received, and how much I get to give, as a mom.