This summer I sat with Brian’s sister, Sam, whose heart is so full of love it would make the oceans overflow, and we talked about children. She is the mom of three and waiting to hopefully foster to adopt two more. She told me how she recently sat with a new mom at her church and listened to her share how hard it was, this being a new mom thing. The new mom shamefully laughed at herself mentioning how silly Sam must think she was as Sam wrangled three boys under the age of seven and hoped for more. “I just have one,” the mom had said, “I can’t imagine how it must be for you.”
Sam’s eyes filled with tears. “I don’t ever want to forget,” she told me. “I don’t ever want to look a new mom in the face and have forgotten how very hard all that adjusting is.”
Right now I’m in a season of life where I’m watching several of my dear, wonderful college and youth group girls who are full grown women now having their first children. I’ve been to baby showers and am watching my phone and newsfeed, hoping to see it blow up with the news of babies born. I can’t wait to visit and hold and rock and laugh and cry with these women some of whom I remember from when they were my own children’s age.
And, like Sam, I don’t want to ever forget. I don’t want to forget the physical pain of childbirth and recovery. I don’t want to forget feeling like I had no idea what I was doing with the nursing and the diapering and the scheduling or not scheduling or baby-wearing or not baby-wearing or co-sleeping or starting them in a crib right away. I don’t want to forget the exhaustion of lack of sleep and the cringing when I took my little one out into public and everyone pawed at him right in the middle of flu season! I don’t want to forget the umpteen tissues I used wiping noses and the teething and the figuring it all out (or at least hoping I was.) I don’t want to forget walking around like a zombie and how heavy that car seat felt when I was swinging it back and forth and back and forth just begging him to go to sleep. Just sleep. Please, child?
I fell in love immediately with being a mom and honestly, mothering came very naturally to me. My children all settled in to schedules and slept through the night early on. But it was still hard, and I watched friends on whom it was even harder. We cried together and laughed together and shared our frustrations and failures together. I don’t want to forget that either. How necessary those friendships were, with those going through the same thing… but also with those older and experienced who could talk me down from the ledge… and with those who didn’t have children yet who loved on mine when I needed a break. I don’t want to forget those times.
And I don’t want to forget the wonder of it all. The beauty of it all. I don’t want to forget what it was like to nurse my boy to sleep and to sit in the darkness of his nursery rocking and rocking and rocking and not caring if I went to bed or not, because he was in my arms. I don’t want to forget watching Bri hold him and diaper him and play with him and feeling my heart grow so large it almost exploded. I don’t want to forget the scent of him, that baby warmth and sweet softness. I don’t want to forget his first smile, first bath, first laugh, first tooth, first everything. It’s easy to forget those things while I’m focused on all the firsts (and lasts!) my eighth grader is experiencing now.
So this is for you, my new mom girls. You’ll hear a lot of people tell you to hold onto every moment, savor each second, don’t wish time away. I’m here to tell you that’s impossible. Even if every second were amazing, you wouldn’t be able to hold on to it all. And truth of the matter is, when that diaper explodes all over the car seat, you’re not going to be savoring the moment. But that little one you will soon hold in your arms, is going to turn your world upside down in the most astonishing, remarkable and dying-to-self ways. The days will seem long sometimes, but the years are short. That much is true.
You have been given a treasure from God–a soul to raise for His Kingdom, a heart to engage, a hand to hold, and a life to love and shape and mold and share. Marvel at this little one, dear girls, and hold him or her with open hands, for they ultimately belong to the One Who chose them for you. And while you hold your treasure out to your Jesus, cling to Him. He is faithful and loving and kind and He knew this gift was exactly designed for you. And when the days are calm, hold them out to Him and cling. And when the days are long, hold them out to Him and cling. And when you drink in that cozy baby softness or snicker at their milk-drunk sleepiness or hold your breath during the umpteenth diaper change or fall asleep with them in your arms or belly laugh at their silly faces or gaze at your lover holding your beloved, remember.
Remember as you hold it all with open hands, your Jesus is holding you.
(And remember there are many of us who haven’t forgotten what it was like… and we have open arms to hold those babies for you, too!)