I met my firstborn 13 years ago today. The world stopped spinning those first few days. There were excited visitors, soft and tiny gifts, flowers. A friend brought me chocolate covered strawberries, my husband didn’t go to work, life was magical.
They served me the most beautiful fruit tray before we checked out of hospital. As I ate, I remember thinking, who thinks it’s ok for me to take this baby home? Isn’t there some test I should have to take? They’re really going to let me walk out of here with him?
My reaction surprised me. I planned on have instincts for this sort of thing. I would see my baby, bond immediately and we’d breeze on our little way. It couldn’t have been more different. Becoming a mother opened up doors in my soul that had been shut, bolted, and secured with storm shutters. Doors that I didn’t even know existed. We settled into a routine, but life went out of focus as I struggled to put one foot in front of the other.
I’m a bit more equipped than I used to be. I thank God wholly for that. He brought people into my life who opened up truth as I was able to hear and understand it. He surrounded me with protection when I got ahead of myself. He helped me begin to see inside my broken heart and find missing pieces of myself as I learn to love my children.
I wanted to share with you a list of some things that I’ve learned in the last 13 years. This is by no means comprehensive as I would be here writing for another 13 years.
- Children are resilient. They can’t be screwed up in a day, a month, or even a year.
- Things really do look better after a good nights sleep. Our grandparents were geniuses.
- Sheets can go longer than a week without being changed. No one in my home has died from this!
- It is never a good idea to say you won’t bring a second baby home to a 999 sq ft house. God takes statements like that as a dare.
- Spray paint can be removed from the doors, back quarter panel, and rear hatch of a new van. It only takes three adults, two hours, and a tin of rubbing compound, it cannot be removed from the wheel well. Ever.
- Even compliant 3 year olds cannot resist testing spray paint on a new van.
- Cereal for dinner is the new gourmet.
- If you leave a gallon of cider in the new van after a preschool field trip to the orchard, it will explode if the weather’s warm.
- Everyone is happier if you just let them with the rain boots.
- People in the store love children with rain boots
- If you have to hide in the bedroom because you have a bird in your house, try to remember to bring the baby in the infant seat with you.
- Pokemon is not the anti-christ, neither is Barney.
- After 13 years Caillou is still just a kid who’s four and a whiny one at that!
- There is no right way to parent. We all do the best we can, with what we have at any given moment. This goes for the crazy moms in Walmart too. Do you think they’d be that way if they knew any different? I’m not generally known for my optimism, but I believe this wholeheartedly.
Cloth, disposable, formula, breast milk, work at home, work outside home, private, public, organically grown, traditionally grown. These are not moral dilemmas, can we stop already? The comparisons begin before we even meet these children. Some very good friends and family members gave birth naturally. I’m proud of these girls, they are amazing, but does that mean I gave birth unnaturally? That beautiful needle in my back delivered some serious relief that day for which I will be forever grateful. It helped me enjoy the day. I told my husband it was the difference between being stuck in a tin box with no ventilation on the beach at the equator in summer (deep breath), and laying under a cabana with a cool drink in North Carolina in early May. I will take North Carolina over the equator every time!
We can’t help but worry about every.single.decision at that stage of the game. We don’t know any better, but I’m thankful for a bit more perspective now. For the understanding that every question does not have an answer, that every feeling or thought does not have to be dissected, and that a deep breath, a good meal, and a decent nights sleep can solve a lot of problems.
There are a few more things I’ve learned since I brought that fist baby home, these truths have remodeled my soul.
- Not feeling connected to a child, doesn’t mean you don’t love them deeply. It just means, you don’t know how to love yourself.
- As your child changes developmentally, you’ll catch glimpses of yourself as a child.
- Once you catch glimpses of your childlike self, you’ll discover grace and compassion that allows you to be gentle with your own heart.
- When you’re gentle with your own heart, rigid perfectionism crumbles.
- When perfectionism crumbles, you can finally experience the grace and feel the love.
- You can only give the grace and love, once you have actually opened your heart to receive it.
Every single tear that’s shed during this process is priceless to the Father in heaven. He created our hearts to look like his, full of grace and love. We can know and love others as we are truly known.
Happy Birthday Gage!