At this time, I’m not going to get into my labor stories on this blog, but the story and metaphor I share below do include the experience of motherhood before birth. I’m still saving those memories as private sacred moments, but I would like to share many other facets of motherhood with you. If you would like to hear those stories, I’d be happy to sit down with you over a good, hot cup of coffee and share. In the meantime, just know they were crazy, beautiful, not what I expected, wreck my life, build me up, life altering moments. So special. Wild and hard would be understatements. Yet, the moment my boys were born, all that crazy faded a bit, and the beautiful got brighter. I was forever changed.
Locking eyes- those sweet blue eyes- all of what I had thought mattered, melted away. Whatever my needs or wants were up til that moment were forgotten. He was healthy and perfect and a new part of my story. I was ready and willing to die for him in that moment.
I’ve always been a dreamer. I look at life in wonder. I love the ‘nexts’ of life. I’m the girl who is on vacation scheming up the next one. Starting a career, thinking about the next one. Pregnant with one child and excited about them and their siblings. I don’t just dream about things though. My parents taught me well to plan and prepare. “Things don’t just happen,” my mom would say. I think “this isn’t the life I want.” And then I find solutions to get where I do want to go. Boxes can’t hold me down.
Then I became a mom to the most beautiful and curious boy. But within our first month, I found myself trapped and suffocating inside a box called Motherhood.
Driving down the road one day, I asked Michael what he was dreaming about for life. He answered, then naturally asked me the same. And I began to cry. I didn’t know how to dream anymore. I felt stuck, suffocated. “What’s next?” I thought. Next, my baby turns one and I plan that party. Then I get pregnant again. And then I keep doing this over and over and every day is the same. Until one day they are grown and I have to reinvent myself and rediscover me.
Now, that’s depressing to think about, huh? I’m not going to sugar coat my thoughts for you. #sorrynotsorry
The very next day, I’m rolling around in this ‘box’ of motherhood adoring my children and bursting at the seams with joy and wonder for their lives. In pure bliss, and so thankful for the space and opportunity to pull back from a career so that I can spend my days raising my kids and not have to rush off to work.
And then my son goes off to take a nap, and I suddenly wonder what my purpose is and if I’m really making an impact and what is the point. Once I get through that thought, I make lunch (finally) for myself, and as soon as I finish, he’s awake. I pray he goes back to sleep, but he doesn’t and I just wilt because I’m exhausted and didn’t get time to make a pot of coffee.
Rushing through our days, nights, routines, my baby turns into a toddler, and I wonder how on earth I ever struggled with a baby. I mean it’s soooo much harder now. And I’m pregnant. I’m puking, exhausted, and this kid is having melt downs ALL. DAY. LONG. Banging his head on the floor. Screaming at me. He can barely say anything, but he’s sure got the screaming down. Other well-intentioned moms ‘reassure’ me, it only gets worse. And back into the box of suffocation I go.
Upside-down on my face, these plastic see-through walls surround me. They fog up if I breathe harder.If I breathe slower, my brain only receives less oxygen. I see people outside, but I’m stuck– or at least feel like I am.
Our second boy is born, and wow. Life is bliss. Pure bliss. And sleep exhaustion, I NEVER sleep anymore and probably will never sleep again. People warned me of this. I will not sleep for another 20 years. Give or take a few depending on how many more kids we have. We run on adrenaline and coffee and sheer will. I don’t even know how we made it through those first few months. I think my body was only half alive. Yet, we made it. Sort of. Forever changed.
And now, I can tell you, my experience says it gets better- not worse. I want to be the first person (it seems) ever to tell you: It. Gets. Better. And it gets ‘more’, but it doesn’t get easier.
The screaming might get louder sometimes, but the sleep deprived state you’re running on goes away (usually, mostly). That stretch you feel– the one where you feel inadequate and like you can’t leave the house– well you stretch and adjust and your capacity changes. You create more space. You change. You feel more. You can laugh more.
The joy you felt when you baby was born or you held them for the first time or maybe when your bond formed months later– that grows. It’s not like day one is the best and then day two, week two, year two (or twelve depending no who you ask), it suddenly gets hard, and everything leading up to it will have been easy in comparison. Motherhood IS hard work, but you’re a hard worker. You begin to dream big dreams for your family, not just an individual. Sometimes your mind runs rampant with the fears and what-ifs and way-too-scary-to-write-on-paper thoughts, but it also is wild with deep revelation and prophetic insight into who that sweet little baby is going to become and it all happens in a second. They smile and their future flashes in your mind.
And that box? That breathless feeling of suffocation and isolation? It’s not unbreakable. It’s all too common and tangible, and yes– it’s one most moms I know experience. Don’t live in that box. Break the damn box.
Acknowledge your boundaries, but don’t die in the box. Find life and joy and dance and sing and rest in the newness of life. It is a lie straight from hell that motherhood ruins women. I’m tired of hearing “before I had kids, I was fun.” I get it– I do. But what if we got rid of the metaphorical box that motherhood ties us down? What if we lived differently? Or at least thought about it differently?
Motherhood brings life.
In all the sacrifice and struggle and tantrums and sleeplessness. In all the opening your heart to emotions. In saying “no” to friends and parties. In changing your idea of what your dreams would look like. In having less money for yourself. In choosing patience moment after moment. In experiencing the change children bring to your marriage and to you…
We experience something bigger.
Something a box can’t hold down. It can’t be confined.
How have you felt confined and how have you broken out of that box?
How is your Motherhood bringing Life?