Being a parent really makes you grow; it’s stretches you.
No, I am not talking about the fading yet still visible marks that often remain across a new mother’s body. True, those marks do tell their own story about how a belly grows to a remarkable and unprecedented size — but what I mean, is by having a child you become an adult! Yes, even if you have already been adulting for some time now, you quickly realize that your previous level of adultness was in fact incomplete.
At some point, I think every parent makes the annoying declaration to their children that “there are things you can’t really understand, or even recognize, until you are in the position of parenthood“. Unfortunately for my pride’s sake, it turns out that that annoying comment is actually a very true statement. My apologies to all children world-wide currently rebelling against their parents on this issue.
The above isn’t to say that parenthood is all burdens; in fact I don’t feel burdened at all, especially compared to the joy received along the way. With responsibility, you also become the recipient of the most amazing love you could ever imagine.
Mumma, Mummy, Mother — they have been the names and titles I have wanted for a long time. Mother is a role I have always felt born to fulfill, and is a chapter in life that I have longed to write and to live.
When I was longing for a child and wishing, praying and desiring to be in the season of motherhood, though she wasn’t even conceived yet, I felt a deep overwhelming love for my “on the way” baby.
I was so consumed with the love I had for my baby, that even during the 37 weeks of carrying her inside me I never really gave much thought to the love, adoration and devotion she would have for me.
Her love — her love is pure, unquestionable, undeniable, and unconditional; it radiates from her eyes when she reaches for me. I can see that I am her safe place, her home, her security; I’m her Momma. That love has stretched me, and continues to do so on a daily basis.
Her love teaches and stretches me to love in the same unconditional way. It stretches me to see the world through a baby’s unbiased lens. It stretches me to be a better, stronger, more secure person than I ever could have been before experiencing this love.
Slave To Love (That’s Good BTW)
Motherhood really is the death of “self”. Not the death of your life, but any self-centered way of life for sure. When you become a mother you are no longer the center of your universe. You are no longer the star of the show — and you shouldn’t be either.
When you’re a mother, especially with young children, your focus cannot remain on yourself. My desire is to give Willow the very best of what I have to offer. I want to love her the way she should be loved, and my desire to do that outweighs my own personal dreams and desires.
On a practical level, there are the every day things that more or less will force you to become more selfless. Tiredness, for example, doesn’t mean you are guaranteed a nap or a good night’s (or week’s or month’s) sleep! Hunger, well that always comes second to feeding your baby of course. The desire to watch a movie, or read, or write or … anything else really, all comes second place to whatever the current need of your baby is.
It’s one thing to understand these things conceptually, and another to actually experience them however. You get stretched.
Motherhood is my newest role; it’s my newest position — one I will hold for the rest of my life and I definitely don’t regret any part of it (though, I would not be terribly disappointed if the tiredness disappeared!). Does this new role mean that I have to lessen or abandon my other roles though? Not at all!
I am also still a wife, which I didn’t give up just because I became a mother. I am still a daughter, a sister, and a friend. I didn’t give up those just because I became a mother.
What I am realizing (which admittedly means that I forgot at some point) is although I am a mummy, I can still do, be and live as “me” too.
There definitely are some challenges along the way, and that is simply a part of the stretching process. Let me put it more plainly perhaps: Mother’s go through a lot of physical and emotional stress during pregnancy, but the prize of the baby makes it more than worth it. When that baby is then in your arms, and smiles and laughs and grows, it only becomes more worth it.
Bursting The Bubble
As Willow grows and starts to explore the world outside of the bubble of me and her, I too am growing, becoming aware of the things I can do in addition to being her mummy.
Just like I’m proud of Willow (and will be more I’m sure), I also want Willow to be proud of my life and what I am doing; to be proud that I am her mum.
While the love of a child is certainly not based on accomplishments, I think as parents, we can give our children so much more if we are also living our lives alongside of them, not just for them.
Recently I have had this thought that keeps creeping up on me, and I start to feel guilty if I am getting busy with anything other than just Willow things. I start to feel like I’m not giving her what she needs, or not paying enough attention to her to show her just how much I love her.
Realistically however (as Tim often reminds me whenever I mention this idea) I am actually with her all the time! Even when I am doing something else often times she’s right there beside me!
I think it’s very easy for parents, especially mothers, to lose their identity in parenthood. It’s easy to think “Ok, this is who I am now, and that’s it!” In a sense, yes, it is who you are — but it’s not all you are. In addition to who you are, you also have one of the most important roles one can EVER be given (not to mention the wonderful gift of a new life that comes along with it)!
Before I go any further, I’d like to clarify that I am by no means saying that there is anything wrong with just being a parent. When I am talking about being more than a parent, I am not referring to occupation, but to identity.
The problem I am talking about is when we squash, ignore, trample, or bury our dreams that we have so that we can “be the best parent we can be”!
The reality is, our babies are born ready to come on this life-adventure with us. They don’t need us to give up all of life itself for them! They never say “I need you to be only mine forever and ever.”
Although abandoning dreams and desires can feel like we are being selfless, I think many times it’s done under the cover of being a “responsible parent”. If that is the case, that actually means (here it comes, brace yourself) — it wasn’t in fact a selfless act at all; it was to protect ourselves.
By this “giving up”, I think we do ourselves and our children a great disservice. Imagine a child finding out and believing that they were essentially a dream killer. What a heavy and untrue burden! Unfortunately, there is evidence in people’s lives that this has happened.
Again, absolutely there are sacrifices that have to be made when parenthood begins. Believe me, I know all about sacrifice. I haven’t had any dairy in 14 months. That’s right, that means no chocolate, no cheese, and no cream. Now THAT is sacrifice! 🙂
Kidding aside, we have to sacrifice. We have to make sacrifices daily. We have to grow up and be the real definition of an adult. We don’t, however, have to stop being a child inside. We don’t have to stop chasing, and catching, our dreams.
Just bring those kids along; we can learn a lot from them! See the world as a child again! Let them grow up seeing what it’s like to live passionately, wholly and fully being ourselves doing all we were created to do!
I am ready to be it all. I’m ready to be stretched, and become all that I am destined to be with both Willow and Tim by my side. To be mummy, wifey, and dream catcher all at the same time!