What my Newborn Told Me About Myself
A year ago at this time was the first time I ever thought seriously about having a baby. Before that, there was a lot of convincing from my husband, but a lot of fear built up in me. The thought crossed my mind several times: Do I even want to be a mom, ever? I honestly didn't think I could ever be ready to be a good one.
A year later, writing this with Gemma strapped to my chest in her carrier, I'm so thankful that God changed my mind. Truly, that is the only explanation for it- God wanted Gemma in the world, so he had his way with my heart. I'm forever grateful for the series of events that led me to finally, though hesitantly, decide I, just maybe, could be a mom: Nick bugging me about it to no end, my family in on the nagging, and a friend's baby boy cuddling in the crook of my neck.
We were blessed that it happened quickly and in the timing I hoped for, but the beginning of my pregnancy brought a lot of fear and anxiety: What if I can't do this? Somehow, when the hormones really kicked in, I became a little more calm and level headed. Towards the end, though I was so excited to meet my baby, I had no idea how I was going to handle being a mom. I'm not the most emotionally-stable person. Little things make me anxious, and a few little things building up can really make me panic. I'm selfish, too, and a bit of a control freak. These, among other flaws, scared me to death. How was I going to be a mom, let alone a good one?
When Gemma came into the world, there was no doubt. I was going to be a good mom- but I was going to have to break myself to do it.
I remember being so surprised in the hospital at how my new daughter was truly calm and content in my arms. I can remember exclaiming "She likes me!" surprisingly to my family surrounding me, and my mom and nana laughed. Of course she does, she knows who I am- I am her mom.
And from the first time she looked up at me, she began reshaping me. She told me who I was, and who I was going to become.
Since having Gemma, I've been faced with the sinful parts of me every day. The selfish part of me that wants to run on my own schedule. The impatient part of me that gets mad at everyone if she's not having a good night of sleep (even though it is clearly no one's fault), the anxious part of me that has a hard time trusting God with little things and big things. The self-reliant part of me that wants to solve everything on my own (by looking it up on the internet, of course).
As a believer, I've always wanted to "work on" these parts of me (and fix them on my own, somehow, of course) to become closer to God. I've tried countless times, and of course the best work that has been done in my heart has been done by God, not by myself, and often in ways I didn't expect. For example, marriage has changed me and continues to change me in so many ways, though, like most newlyweds, I went into marriage thinking it would be pretty easy being married to my best friend, despite what anyone told me.
Being a parent, however, has broken me down in just two months and restructured parts of me that have been there all my life. Oh, how patient I had to become when Gemma screamed for hours in the evenings for three weeks straight. How selfless I had to become to push through with breastfeeding when I was in pain for over a month from oversupply. How much control I had to let go of as every little thing about taking care of a brand new baby made me anxious. How much I had to (and have to every day) rely on God to make all of this happen, and to continue this work on me to become the mom that Gemma needs me to be. I know I've only scratched the surface of how the hard work of motherhood will change me throughout my life.
Every time Gemma looks up at me with her big eyes, she tells me who I am. Though I know how selfish, impatient, and anxious I can be, she tells me I am loving, patient, kind, gentle, and trusting, because that is who God is making me through her.
I was fearful of being a mother because I was never going to be a good one on my own. But with God, working through the tiniest little love- through her smiles and cuddles and cries and coos- I am daily becoming the mom that Gemma needs me to be.
Being a mom has become one of my highest callings, along with being a wife, and to think of how much I feared it makes me laugh a bit now. I never thought I would be ready. Motherhood is something to fear in a way, as it is life changing, but I would have always been afraid and never ready. I didn't become ready until the moment I met Gemma; holding her for the first time was all it took.
Not every woman's calling is to be a mom, and that's okay. But if you fear being a mom because you don't know if you'll be a good one, just know that one day, when a little miracle looks up at you for the first time, and every time after that, she'll tell you who you are, and through the best and the hardest moments, you'll become exactly the mom she or he needs.