“Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.” Matt. 11:29
By: Dana Baran
As Charlotte’s first birthday looms ever nearer, I find myself becoming more reflective and sentimental by the day. I even wrote her a letter to be read sometime in the future (her eighteenth birthday? College graduation? Wedding day? Birth of her first child? TBD) but it is rather sappy and lengthy so instead of sharing the whole letter I’ll just give you some highlights. I hope my musings and confessions might prompt you to reflect for a bit on the lessons the Lord has taught you through your own motherhood journey.
I’m writing this to you just before your first birthday, but you won’t read it for many years yet. This is my attempt to convey a bit of my experience of being your mom, since I know time will blur and muddle my memories. I hope you will forgive me, love me, and understand me a bit more after you read these confessions:
– I wasn’t ready to be a mom. I thought I was. I read every book and blog I could get my hands on; all of which gave great, sometimes conflicting advice. But then God gave me you and all of a sudden parenting experts were out and prayer was in. You have been so very good for my prayer life Baby Girl.
– I am a failed infant masseuse. I went to six weeks of classes and tried, really, to give you the nurturing, bonding, relaxing massage that I learned on a baby doll. You weren’t interested. I’d get halfway through and you’d start fussing. The only part of my training I actually used was the series of tummy rubs that were supposed to relieve gas pain and encourage digestion. You were already screaming when I did those massages. I don’t know if it worked, but it helped me feel like I could actually do something during those first few months when you had so many bouts with tummy trouble. You would look at me as though you were asking “Why don’t you make the pain go away?”, and all I could do was hold you and be there with you. You’ve given me a glimpse into the heart of God. Thank you.
– I can’t get enough of watching you explore your world. Everything is thrilling; the most mundane object is a delight. You spend sustained periods of time changing your socks from one hand to the other, or picking up fuzz off the carpet to give to me (hinting that maybe it’s time to vacuum again?) Through your eyes I get to see the wonder of God’s creation anew. What a beautiful gift.
– I worried to the point of obsession about your sleeping and eating habits the first few months of your life. I even had an app on my phone where I kept track of how long you slept, how long you nursed (on each breast) and yes, even how many wet and how many poopy diapers you had every day. Seems crazy to me now, just a few month later, but let’s just say that weaning to formula at four months was the best decision I’ve made yet as a mom. Knowing exactly how many ounces you eat at every feeding has done wonders for my sanity.
– When you were between 3-7 months old I used to get you dressed every day, then immediately lay you down on the guest bed (that room has the best morning light) and take pictures of you. Sometimes we had multiple photo sessions in a day. I was sure you were the most beautiful child every born (I’m still pretty sure of that). I am mesmerized by your hands, your toes, your belly button…you truly are fearfully and wonderfully made. I would have loved to continue our daily photo ops, but you learned to roll over and crawl and that was the end of that. It’s just as well…I’d hate for you to become a baby diva.
– When you had your first stomach bug and couldn’t keep any formula down we made a new parent mistake and tried to take you to the urgent care clinic in Walmart (it was after 7:30pm so your pediatrician was closed). The receptionist looked at me like I was crazy, then calmly informed me that they had absolutely no appointments available, and that they didn’t see children under two anyway. As we were about to head to the ER (our only option at this point) you fell asleep, so we decided just to take you home. That was one of the hardest decisions we’ve had to make…expose our baby to a germy hospital at the height of cold and flu season, or risk her becoming dehydrated and a fever spiking out of control. Thanks to God we made the right choice, and you suffered no ill effects…as far as we know.
– I feel both joy and consternation at the enthusiastic way you explore your world. Climbing up stairs, leaping off the couch, escaping from my arms as I try to hold you…you have no concept of fear (or gravity) and I live in constant terror for the moment when I’m not there to catch you. Hopefully it doesn’t happen the first time you learn how to climb onto the kitchen table (because I’m sure that day is coming). Every day I have to remind myself that you belong to God, and He is the one who is ultimately responsible for your safety. It’s either that or wrap the house in bubble wrap, which seems a bit extreme.
– My love for you makes me a better person. Before you I had a tendency to casually tell God “That’s ok, I’ve got this.” Being a mom is a constant lesson in humility and my inadequacy. I’m closer to my Heavenly Father now than I have ever been, as he is gently teaching me that he is all-sufficient. All I need… all you need…is him.
– I love being a mom. I’d been warned before I had you about the trials that come with a new baby…sleepless nights, hours of crying, not knowing what was wrong or how to fix it. Yes, it is all of that, but all of that plus the incredible joy of a heart full of mother love…with that and the grace of God I can handle anything. That is the key, after all, remembering daily to give up my illusion of control over you and turn it over to our Heavenly Father who already has it all figured out.
With all my love,