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Tuesday, June 4, 2013

The Evolution of a Mother

Have you ever had one of those instances where a parallel occurs in your life and the contrast is so stark that you can't help but stop and marvel at it? In 2005, I became a mother. I was young, clueless, and eager. I remember Jackson's one week checkup at the pediatrician. I remember toting in all my stuff, my first time venturing out in the big world with a tiny baby. I was 25 minutes late for the appointment. I remember being flustered as he started to cry in the waiting room and the way my face burned as I felt that everyone was looking at me. There was the issue of my embarrassment to attempt nursing in public and then a diaper explosion and then I dropped my diaper bag trying to juggle all the crap I was carrying back to the room. By the end of the ordeal, I was crying too.
I recently took Ezra for his one week check up. Because they were unable to see us on base, they referred me to a civilian clinic. Coincidentally, it was the same clinic I used to take Jackson to all those years ago. So I found myself sitting in the exact same spot, eight years later with my fourth son. 

The comparison was delicious.

As Ezra started to scream, I discretely began nursing him then changed his cloth diaper on my lap.  I put him back in my ring sling and he was back asleep before I had a chance to feel nervous at all. Motherhood is definitely a learned art, and I've never forgotten that first fiasco of a doctors visit. When I see a mom juggling a newborn in public, I always try to stop and say "I know it's so much harder than it looks. You're doing a good job"
It got me thinking about the mother that Jackson was born to and the mother I am today. It made me think how much I wish I could just sit down and have one conversation with that clueless, eager girl as she waited to take on the greatest commission of her, that is to say MY, life. If I could write a letter to myself to be delivered eight years ago exactly, it would find me learning that the baby I was carrying was a boy. It would go something like this:


Dear Self, 

Right now, you are growing a son.
You don't know what this means yet. I know as soon as the ultrasound tech said "boy", your thoughts went to little blue baby clothes and a sports themed nursery. It's ok, you'll learn how quickly those things will be memories. You'll learn what it means to look at your boy and know that you are shaping the man, the husband, and the father he will be.

It's ok. Enjoy the little blue things. In fact, keep enjoying them. You've got a lot of them to look forward to.

The first thing I want to tell you is that soon you are going to learn about mom guilt. It's the curse of motherhood, the feeling of never being a enough and the fear of failing these small people you love so much.
You are enough.
You don't have to make up for being a young mom. The fact that you are bringing this child into the world at 19 doesn't make you an inferior mother. Good moms come in all kinds of women. It's going to take you a couple of years to figure this out. It's going to hurt in the meantime when people make careless comments in the grocery store and at the playgroups you try as you find a place to fit in. People don't realize how discouraging they can be. Forgive them and then love your kid the best way you can. You don't have to buy all the best baby gear to prove you've got it together. You don't have to do everything yourself. Let people help you. And just love your kid. Enjoy him. Play with him. Do your best. You are enough. 

Don't be embarrassed about you're lack of experience with babies. Plenty of women who have babies at 35 feel just as befuddled as you will. That's part of being a first time mom. Just take knowledge as you come across it. When the lactation consultant at the hospital offers to show you how to change a diaper, it isn't because you are clueless and afraid but because lots of first timers are clueless and afraid. Take her help. And your friend was lying about having to take a test to leave the hospital with your baby. So quit stressing out about it, silly girl. 

I know right now you can't imagine how much you are going to love this little guy. In a couple of years, you are going to learn how that love can multiply. Don't feel guilty about making Jackson share his life with a brother. They are going to be best friends. Confidently give your sons their brothers and then raise them to appreciate them. 

Quit worrying about your stretch marks and what the scale says. Take a moment to appreciate what your body is doing for you. Learn to love your thickened thighs and widened hips and accept the fact that your boobs will never be the same. Trust me, your sons will be worth it. 

You know all those people that keep telling you "It goes by so fast"? They are right. But it's definitely one of those things you'll learn for yourself. 

One day this boy inside of you is going to look at you with his seven year old face and tell you that he loves Jesus and wants to be baptized. It will be one of the proudest moments of your life. It's going to make you realize how quickly the next milestone will be upon you, the things like the day he passes his driving test, the first day of college, the day he becomes a husband...and a dad. 

Someday you won't be so nervous anymore. Through mistakes and triumphs, your guilt will ease and your confidence will grow. You will learn to be a mother. Don't hesitate to encourage other women at every opportunity. It's important and not enough people take up the mantle of being an encouraging force. Take it up. 

You are still enough. You won't always believe it. But try to remember. Jesus found you worth dying for. He also finds you capable of raising this little boy into a man and also the three that will come after him. 

You are enough and you were made to be a mother. 

Love, 
Yourself. 


These boys were born to two completely different women. Both of them just happened to be me. 
Jackson and Ezra, 2013

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