What I have Lost and Gained Being a Mother
Last night, I was looking in the mirror at myself. Being pregnant with baby number 8, my stomach muscles have been stretched to the max with previous pregnancies. Even though I am only going on 11 weeks, my belly has already popped out. Soon people will start asking me when I am due, and, "Is this your first?" I always love the look on their face when I tell them exactly what number I am on.
As I went to bed, exhausted and nauseous, I lay there thinking over the years of motherhood. I became a mom at the young age of 20. At 20 years old, I wasn't even secure in the person that I was yet. I was still learning things about myself, and also navigating the early months and the first year of marriage. I was young and unseasoned. I thought back over my young years of being a mom with a twinge of regret. I was so immature, and I had so much to learn! I started thinking of my years of motherhood, and all that I have learned, and am still, learning along this journey. My mind started going over all the things that changed when I became a mom.
I gave up my body to become a mom.
I gave up a trim, athletic figure for stretched out stomach muscles and stretch marks.
I gave up being able to eat whatever I wanted, in exchange for no over the counter medications, and only healthy food as my body nourished a growing baby or nursling.
I gave up feeling wonderful all the time, to feeling exhausted and nauseous as my body grew another human being.
I gave up sleep.
I can't remember the last time I slept the entire night through.
I can't count the numbers of nights that I have stayed up with sick babies and children, tending to their fevers. Lukewarm baths at 3am, trying to get a raging fever under control. Restless nights getting covered in puke and tears. Long nights of prayers and alternating different treatments. Relief when a 104 fever finally became manageable.
I gave up my freedom. Nursing babies are worn or stay with me for the entire first year of their lives. Even when I do leave them for the first time, it's not without worry. Will they be ok their first night without Mama? Will they cry for me? Will Grandma or sister be able to handle them? I am never free from the worry when I am separated from them.
I can't do anything without thinking of how it will effect my children. They are first and foremost in my thoughts and heart. Because of this, my life is never truly my own. My life exists and revolves around these blessings that the Lord has given me.
I gave up my peace and tranquility. Now, don't get me wrong, I have moments of peace in my home, but with homeschooling all day and lots of kids in a small space, it's pretty chaotic. Anyone who has been over and witnessed a day in the life at our house knows it's not peace and quiet. It's noise, and activity, and organized chaos.
I gave up the sense of having my life in perfect control. I have a "type A" personality. When I was younger, and I imagined having kids, I had a plan. A plan that would produce the best kids, the most well behaved kids, the perfect kids. After a couple years, I realized that I was not in total control of my life, and there were always variables that would upset my perfectly coiffed plans. It was God's way of teaching me that I am not in control of every little thing. I learned to let go of over the top expectations, and to roll with the punches. Even now, right when I think I have this parenting thing under control, and all figured out, another situation pops up, and I am forced to put aside my expectations and plans, and to call on the Lord for help and wisdom once again.
I gave up so much to become a mom. But then my mind started going through all of the things I have gained since becoming a mom.
I gained a love that I never knew existed. I have never, in my life, had such a depth of love for another human being. From the first time I saw the two pink lines, to the first time I felt a kick, to the first time that I saw my precious baby's face- the love was so deep, and so strong, that sometimes it takes my breath away.
I would fight for my babies. I would die for my babies. I would give up everything for my babies.
I gained an appreciation for the women who have gone before me in motherhood. Never have I done anything so hard or so important as raising another human being. All mothers everywhere need to be appreciated, and bragged on, and held in high esteem!
I gained a joy that I never knew existed. The joy in seeing my kids grow and flourish. The joy in their achievements. The joy in seeing them accomplish a task and start becoming more independent. The joy when I saw them making good decisions. The joy when I see the type of adults that they are becoming.
I gained a sense of accomplishment that no secular job or position has ever given me. Having children fulfilled something deep within me, something that only God puts in a woman. It's a natural desire- a desire to have a child with the man you love, and to raise that child for the Lord. I have accomplished many things in my life, and gotten awards and accolades, but nothing has topped being a mother.
I gained the knowledge that all life is precious, no matter how small. I realized that I was not in control of everything going perfectly in a pregnancy. I have been through two difficult losses, and since then, it has just reinforced the belief that life is precious and beautiful. I don't take pregnancy for granted anymore. I relish the fatigue and the nausea. I rejoice at all the symptoms that indicate a healthy pregnancy.
I gained the understanding and wisdom that comes only from raising children. I know how to give advice to young moms, because I have walked the road before them. I have had little ones, and sleepless nights, and complete and utter exhaustion. I have navigated new waters, and made decisions, and trained babies to adulthood. There is nothing like knowing that an innocent, helpless baby depends on you for absolutely everything. Nothing brings maturity and wisdom faster than having another human being so completely dependent on you!
I gained a new appreciation for the love that God has for us. He sent his Son to be the payment for our sins. I can't imagine a greater love than that. My love runs so deep for my kids that I can't imagine ever giving up one of them for someone else. My heart rebels at the very thought. To think that God did that for ME? It is humbling, at the very least.
I gained the love from seven people. I will always be their mom, and they know they can rest secure in my love for them. They love me for all my faults and shortcomings. I gained their kisses, and their hugs, and their affection. I gained dandelions on gloomy days, and wildflowers when I needed a pick-me-up. I gained squeals of laughter ringing through my home, and the comfort from knowing I will never be lonely.
I gained laughter, joy, memories, fulfillment, peace, and satisfaction. All from being a mother.
Motherhood has taught me so much. I have given up much, but I have gained so much more. I don't regret one minute since I have become a mom. I wasn't prepared, but God in his grace, has helped me along the way. This is my calling. It is who I was supposed to be. It is my everything, and I thank God every day that he has made me a mom.
Happy Mother's Day to all of you wonderful moms out there. May you embrace your calling, and ponder on all you have gained through this journey.
Being a mom is the best, and nothing else in life compares to this wonderful, breathtaking, miraculous journey.