In just two weeks my baby boy will be one. We are right on the edge of the toddler stage and it is mind blowing how fast this first year has gone. Everyone said it would go fast and at first I didn’t believe them. In the newborn haze, I thought sleepless nights seemed endless and that things would never feel normal again. My whole world has turned upside down this last year. Having a baby has changed everything. It’s changed my marriage. It’s changed my job situation. It’s changed my house. Most of all, it’s changed me. Nothing is the same.
When Owen was almost two weeks old, I wrote a blog about how I was adjusting to motherhood. This is a blog much along those same lines… just a little farther down the road. Motherhood has been a hard road. So many times while I’ve been blogging this last year I wanted to sugar coat things so I wouldn’t seem like a terrible person and a horrible mom. Parenting isn’t easy and there is really no way to prepare for being a first time parent. I’ve said it often – it’s one thing to know to something, it’s another thing to actually live it out. Living out motherhood is crazy!!!
Each season with Owen has been a mix of sweetness and frustration. Just when one phase ends, another starts. There is no plateau. I never really feel like I truly “got this”. I’m just doing the best I can. Some days are easier than others. There are no perfect kids. No perfect parents. I’ve learned a lot of lessons over the course of the year, I hope to share a few with you now.
First lesson, parenting takes prayer. More than ever before, my prayer life has turned into a call-out-to-God kind of relationship. I still have quiet times of focused prayer (while Owen naps or I’m driving in the car), but often I’ll be in the thick of a tough moment and I’ll just cry out “God help me”. It can be frustrating when Owen won’t lay still for a diaper or getting dressed or cleaning up after a bath. It can be frustrating when he decides to not eat. It can be frustrating when it he is having a meltdown because I won’t let him into something he shouldn’t be playing with. In these moments, I can feel my own temper rising. I know that it does no good to get mad at a baby, but it’s hard to calm down those emotions when you are tired and doing the best you can. Prayer in those moments invites God into my roughness. I need to calm me down. I don’t want to be an angry mom and sometimes prayer is the only way I can get through. Also, there is a lot I still need to know and grow in. When I pray, often ask God to continue to make me a better mom. I have not arrived and this job is far from over. I need the strength not only for today, but for the long haul. I want to be a good mom now and I want to be a good mom in 18 years. It’s a marathon, not a sprint.
I’ve learned about expectations for parents. Before, I just assumed that if parents were really committed to Jesus and their church, they could push through any issues with their child and make things work… I was wrong. I’ve had unrealistic expectations of parents for a long time now and I’ve been officially broken of that. There have been seasons during this first year that going to church with Owen was a struggle. I would want to stay for both gatherings and Owen just couldn’t last 4+ hours at the church. He wasn’t getting a morning nap, he wouldn’t take a bottle, and he wouldn’t stay in the nursery. He hit that age where he was no longer sleeping during service and he wouldn’t stay in the nursery. I felt like there was no point to show up and just leave with an upset baby. However, with each challenging season, I have learned that it will pass and doesn’t last forever. Owen does great in the nursery now, but that fact doesn’t change that it wasn’t always like that. Everything is a balance and sometimes the behavior of the kid does dictate what you can. You can’t force babies to behave because they are church and you are trying to do God’s work and can’t they tell how important that is! Nope. Even now, I’ll have to leave early occasionally because things just aren’t working out. I’ve let myself off the hook and I’m not as upset when the game plan for the day doesn’t pan out.
Being a full time stay at home mom wasn’t my original plan for the year. I took a maternity leave and I went back to work extremely part time. However, so many details went into making that a complicated situation. It would take more time than a blog would allow to dissect that. Let just say, I was broken by the tension. For a while there, I seriously thought I could make no one happy and I was failing at everything. If I couldn’t do things to the standard and the way they’d been done before than I wasn’t good enough. I came back to a very different work situation than the one I had left. I wasn’t keeping up as well as I had hoped. Jeremy never complained, but I knew that a lot of the weight of my position was still on him. There was a lot of flexibility in my job and yet at the same time it was so directly linked to my husband. I wasn’t pulling my weight as the team member I once was to him. The transition from being his full time partner in ministry to being a full time mom has been an interesting. I’m still serving my husband. Just in a different way now. I’m taking care of his house and his son. I’m doing my best to be supportive of him so he can work well and come home and relax. Our partnership has changed so much this year. We’re entering into a new season of our marriage and new season of ministry together. We still don’t have it all figured out, but now that I’m home all the time, I’m not living in the same tension I once was. It was good to let go and simplify life. My truest heart wants a quiet life where I invest deeply in those I love. I’ve come to realize that I might never win masses of people of Jesus, but I have mentored students over the last decade, I have good relationships with my friends and family and now I have the next generation to mold and shape. I still love teaching kids at church and I have my own kiddo to share my voice with. I am in a good place, even if it doesn’t seem like a glamorous career. Plus, I really love the job benefits of wearing sweatpants to work each day! Watching Owen discover this world and continue to grow and change, is such a blessing. I am grateful that I get to dedicate my time to this stay at home business. It’s been a good transition.
I have no idea what the next year will hold for Jeremy, Owen and I. Our little guy has survived one year with us and we’ve survived one year of him. The depth of love that has developed over this year is truly special. I didn’t come into motherhood and instantly love it. It was a true sacrifice and it still is. You give up a lot to be a mom. It’s no longer about me. It’s been a hard adjustment at times, but those smiles, hugs and kisses make it all worth it. I’ve loved watching Owen grow into this almost toddler. I have a feeling I’m going to love the next season just as much. He is a great kid! Being a mom might just be craziest job ever, but with the help of Jeremy and Jesus, I think we’re doing okay!