Saturday, June 28, 2014

"What Nobody Tells You About the First 3 Months of Motherhood"

A friend recently posted this on social media, and I was intrigued by her tag line "At the same time you'll fantasize about getting in your car going for a drive and never coming back." then subsequently linked to this article. Hmm.

Let begin by stating what should be obvious, but may not be obvious: I disagree with a lot of the conclusions this non-christian blogger had.  In fact, it made my skin crawl a little bit.  I was a little shocked.  I was a little mortified.  But I did sympathize with her a bit.  Am I perfect?  Am I the model of motherhood?  Am I dancing on daisies and dandelions with my child each and every moment of the day?  No, of course not.  But I still disagree with the article none the less.  Some of the things she said were ok, but where she arrives at afterward not so much.

Let's begin with her opening statement, the "It will be hard but sooooo worth it." Yes, it is true I've heard that a million times myself.  And let's be honest, it's absolutely true.  Her point is no one tells you what "hard" means.  Fair enough. I can understand that.  But life is about living, and if there is one thing I have learned in this life is that you will never be "ready" for the next thing.  God prepares us as He sees fit then throws us another thing to juggle and learn to be the new "normal".  He makes us ready by being in the midst of it, learning as we go. I didn't feel "ready" to be courted, or engaged, or married, or to become a mother.  But every single new scary and exciting thing has been just what I needed at just the right time in my life. It is all about being sanctified. God uses these things in our life to mold us more into the image of our dear beautiful Saviour!

And here is the crux of the issue: she is apparently not a Christian.  So Christians should not heed her advice.  I am going to endeavor to respond to her more in depth.  A biblical response to her points.

Point Number 1: Sometimes it Doesn't Feel Worth it.

Should we really question the sovereign plan of God "wondering why we ever became moms at all"? We are human, and we may have doubts.  But she is justifying wrong feelings and emotions. You may not feel like feeding a baby at 1 am then 3 am then 4:30 am, etc. It's a huge adjustment at first.  But it is a labor love.  I think scripture proves to be extremely wise and practical when it teaches:

"that they admonish the young women to love their husbands, to love their children" Titus 2:4

Young women need to be taught to love their children, yes we have maternal instincts, but we are still sinners being sanctified and need to be instructed.  We may not all be blessed with godly older women in our lives, but if you are in a bible believing church, chances are there is at least one godly older woman.  That's one of the many reasons it is so important to be a part of a local church. (My church is pretty small, but I feel confident that I could seek advice from any of the ladies older than me).  So if you are struggling to love that precious child when he is screaming in the middle of the night, you need to seek the friendship and mentorship of a seasoned older woman.  You need prayer.  You need encouragement.  You need to be taught what it means to be a godly young mother. Sometimes life is the best teacher, but in this sinful chaotic humanistic world, we need wisdom and prudence guiding us in the form of a dear sister in Christ.  This is what God has set down in scripture.

This blogger says it's ok to want the past back, to let your mind wander to life before motherhood.  False.

"casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ," 1 Corinthians 10:5

This means we cannot let our thoughts wander.  This means we need to be engaging every single day the battle for our minds and hearts to be thinking what Christ's word teaches and commands.  Does this mean we will succeed every single day?  Probably not, but the Word of God says He is faithful even when we are faithless.  However, this does not give us a free pass to just feel sorry for ourselves, how beyond exhausted we feel, or how we miss the simpler days.  And I will be honest, the first 2 weeks after 2nd Samuel was born we both were beyond exhausted, but we learned to function as a team, esteeming each other better than ourselves.  We could tell when one needed to just rest so the other would change the diaper or rock the crying baby. We were learning more and more what it meant to "die unto self" to put to death our sinful nature and live unto righteousness.  Even if it meant Samuel walked to the other side of the house with a crying newborn just so I could sleep one hour since the baby just ate 30 minutes before and I was up almost every other hour. all. night. long.  Was it easy?  No.  Did I wish to not be a mother anymore? NO!!!! I knew God graciously gave me this gift of a child and I need to treasure every moment. Even the hard ones.  And when things were hard, to take those wandering thoughts captive and not throw a pity party. But pity parties are hard when you just want to sleep. (;  Some might villainize me because our baby slept almost through the night at 1 month.  And full at 1 1/2 months.  But at the time of this writing, he is now 7 1/2 months and waking up in the night again. (Some mornings I have felt like zombie mom).

Point Number 2: No One Will Be Affected By Their Cries Like You.

It's not so much that I have a problem with this assessment, for is is accurate, but rather her assumption that you think there is something wrong with you!  I appreciate her saying "take it as a badge of honor", for truly, it is.  This may be one of the most precious things about being a mommy, in my mind.  That this tiny little person needs me more than any other person in the entire universe.  No one can comfort him the way my arms and snuggles can.  And as a breastfeeding mom, nothing is quite as amazing as feeding my little one and seeing him thrive on God's beautiful design.  Plus he is pretty cute when he realize it's time to eat and he starts to make his happy baby noises. 

Point Number 3: You're Going To Have Bad Dreams.

It seems what she wants to get across is two things: you have your mommy senses heightened and you are constantly worried.

"Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God;" Philippians 4:6

We are not to worry.  The cultural norm that mom's are innately supposed to worry, and everyone thinks this is normal just goes to show how unbiblical the understanding of motherhood is.  Do we throw caution to the wind and think everything will turn out alright with butterflies and rainbows? No.  The Lord works through means, but we do not worry rather we pray.  I will wrap my child up in a blanket to keep him warm, and not just assume because I prayed and asked God to keep him warm that he will stay warm. (Make sense?).  Here is a real life example from the first week of 2nd Samuel's life of the Lord teaching me not to worry but to prayer and depend upon Him and cling to His right hand:

For any parent, you already know about meconium.  For those who don't know, it's the first poop of a baby's life that is black, tarry, sticky, and super scary.  The baby needs to pee and poop a certain amount in the first few days to make sure they are eating enough/gaining enough.  Well, the first couple days no poop was coming, and he wasn't peeing much. We were both very worried at first.  But in those moments of holding my little boy and looking down at his tiny little face, the Spirit of God moved me to cry out and pray to God that He would make this baby poop! Yes. I literally prayed that.  I told God of my worries and uncertainties, asking Him to enable me to trust Him and His design, to calm my heart, etc. But in everything. And I did pray in everything, even about my child's lack of bowel movement.  And you know what? The next day was a major blow out (like out the diaper up the back kinda blow out). And we thanked God for it. And I thanked God that my sweet husband selflessly cleaned that baby up without missing a beat (I must admit it was kind of funny to watch, holding a naked newborn trying to get that black sticky mess off).

Yes, we have some amazing mom intuition that connects our hearts to be in tune with our babies needs.  We are fearfully and wonderfully made.  But that gives us no license to go into worry mode.  It should drive us to our knees and humble us even more that life is not in our control, but rather in God's loving, faithful, sovereign hands.

Point Number 4: You Will Feel Like an Ungrateful Jerk.

Maybe you do feel like an ungrateful jerk even though you know many women wish to have a baby.  I know of friends who desperately want one baby, or maybe just a second one. But this blogger says, yes it's totally ok for you to feel ungrateful!! She says your feelings are totally justified and warranted.  *Cue Buzzer Sound*. Wrong again.  Not only that, but she says no need to enjoy every moment of motherhood.

*Deep breath*  First off, scripture says we are to rejoice and give thanks in everything, being content in whatever situation we are in.

"Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you." 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

"At midnight I will rise to give thanks to You, Because of Your righteous judgments." Psalm 119:62 (quite applicable to new moms)

"Not that I speak in regard to need, for I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content: I know how to be abased, and I know how to abound. Everywhere and in all things I have learned both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need." Philippians 4:11-12

We have no right to be ungrateful for the things God has given us, for the plan He has sovereignly ordained for your life, nor to ask the potter, why have you made me like this?  We are extremely selfish and ungrateful people by nature, but praise be to God that He has given His children a new nature!  So we no longer can be selfish and ungrateful, but rather need to be selfless, patient, and self-controlled (just a few of the fruits of the Spirit).  Maybe we are not grateful every moment of every day to be a mother, but that doesn't mean we wallow in self pity and think about how hard it is, no we give thanks, we pray and cry out to the Lord to make us contented like Paul says.  It is just another thing in life to teach us to depend more upon the Spirit of God, for Him to sanctify us to look more like Christ, and to trust in God's unfailing mercy upon us, wretched sinners.

It's not like this applies solely to new moms/dads.  But to everyone in whatever season and trial they are going through.  I am continually learning what an incredibly uncomfortable sanctifying tool marriage is, and now, motherhood is.  Nothing like living with other people to show you how selfish you really are.  I am learning every day what it means to sacrifice for those that I love.  When I am dead tired in the middle of the night and hear the baby stir, I don't want to get up immediately, but I do.  I want to pick him up before he cried and wakes (1st) Samuel up.  Then I enjoy the sleepy cuddles. Every day I see him gaining new skills, growing, and changing.  This season is passing so quickly and I want to enjoy it as much as I can!

And if being a new mom feels like a trial there is scripture to talk to that as well:

"My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing." James 1:2-4

This baby is teaching more about the state of your own heart than it is about anything else.  And trust me, there are so many things to learn at the beginning. But those are very minor compared to the eternal lessons we are learning.

Point Number 5: You Won't Want This Phase to End, And Yet You Can't Wait For it to End.

Is this not true of all of life?  Ok, I agree with her here to an extent.  It's exciting and so bittersweet.  But as much as I love every moment, you cannot stay in the past, nor do we live for the future.  We live exactly where the Lord Jesus has placed: in the moment we are in now.  Why?  As Ecclesiastes says,

"To everything there is a season, A time for every purpose under heaven:"

and so we are to enjoy the moments we are in, not worried about the changes, but living in the midst of them one day at a time.  There is a balance to be had.  And if you believe what scripture teaches about children, that they are a blessing from the Lord, then chances are, Lord willing, you will have more babies and get to enjoy the baby season all over again.

Upon her closing statements she says new mommy's are going to have more feelings and emotions than you ever knew was possible.  Yes, with those hormones going haywire, it's definitely going to be a fun ride. But this does not mean that it's ok to justify sinful responses.  It does not mean, we as Christian mommy's, have any reason to disregard the teachings of scripture.

"All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness," 2 Timothy 3:16

So what do people not tell you about the first 3 months of motherhood? That like anything new in life, it will be hard.  But when we are trusting in our amazing, wonderful, loving, merciful, and good God, it is absolutely worth it.  For we may feel overwhelmed, but He is holding us in His right hand.  He does not give us more than He knows is for our good.  Maybe we don't feel like we can handle it, but God handles all things within His sovereign hands.

And as I think about my precious son and the past 7 1/2 months I am so humbled and grateful for the good gift God has given me: a family.  I am acutely aware of one thing from my experience, and it is this: that those who undergo severe trials tend to know intimately the goodness of God as they have been broken and only He has held you together.  Since I have no relationship with my own family, I have known the sweetness of this truth,

"God sets the solitary in families;" Psalm 68:6

When I was but one, He brought me a husband.  And now we are three.  He truly sets the solitary in families!  Just as I think of one precious sister who knows Him as "Papa", a father to the fatherless daughter.  And so we who hurt cling to those good gifts.  But even those who do not hurt, we must all thank the Lord in whatever situation we are in.  Mommy or not.

This life is so worth it when we live for the glory of our precious Lord, to know His love, to make Him known!

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