Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Things I Did Not Expect about Motherhood

      The last couple of weeks have been a blur since I have traveled two out of the last three weekends and will be gone again this weekend (Birmingham - here we come!).  In the middle of packing and driving, I have been trying to do other things around the house - cook, clean, random craft projects (insert regret that I have not yet finished the plaid wall, though it is coming along).  Before I left for Wichita, I tried to finish sorting through all of the girls' clothes that they have outgrown and replace them with clothes for the upcoming season.  This is just one of the piles that I was making.


Which got me thinking. I did not expect this part of being a mom.  I did not realize that managing my children's wardrobes would be such a gigantic overhaul at least twice a year.  More if I was better organized.  With little drawers like this that need to be filled and accessible so that getting dressed in the often rushed mornings is no more drama than necessary.


And I didn't really think through that I would have BINS of clothing.  For which I am so thankful, truly, but really, BINS of clothing?  I just never contemplated it.


All of this got me thinking about my expectations coming into this great adventure of motherhood.  There are a lot of things I knew to expect and that I awaited with differing levels of eagerness or anxiety.  I expected to love my children more than I imagined possible.  I expected to change nasty diapers.  I expected to have to die to self more and more as little lives depended on mine.  However, parenthood has had its share of curveballs - good and bad.  Here's my list.

Challenges I didn't fathom:
--  I didn't grasp the level of sacrifice having a child is physically.  I knew it would be hard.  I knew my body would change.  Until I did it, I did not understand that pregnancy is a totally consuming experience.  When I looked at the diagrams for what was going on inside my body by the end of the pregnancy, I realized that it is by no means sustainable, and is, in fact, a serious medical condition.  It is a good thing it doesn't last any longer - but then, there's breastfeeding.
--  I did not expect breastfeeding to be a challenge - and with Bella, it has been great!  But with Lily - oh, it was not.  And to be honest, even having a great experience, breastfeeding is not my favorite thing ever.  The round the clock experience that it is definitely took me off-guard.
-- I didn't realize the ways my life would change.  I knew it would, obviously.  However, I didn't think about the fact that I would need to make friends in a similar stage as mine in order to survive.  Since college, I had basically done life with John and not had to make friends on my own.  It was strange to make friends without him, and I didn't like it at first at all.
-- I did not know how hard disciplining our child would be.  I never in a million years imagined that I would have to spank my child over 15 times in a row for the same infraction before she capitulated.  She needed to know that I was serious, and I had to win.  It takes an enormous amount of energy to determine what consequences should be and to be consistent, loving and patient.  It has drawn me to the Lord in a new way, since I have felt at much more of a loss than I ever imagined I would.
--  I knew it would challenge our marriage, but I didn't realize in what ways.  Having children drew some lines for us that we didn't have before.  It is what we have always wanted, and I am so thankful to be able to stay home with our girls, but it is hard for John and I to live in such different worlds.  It takes more intentionality and creativity to know how to balance family life, work life, social life, ect., all while trying to learn how to serve one another better.  Which is a constant challenge.

All of that said, I wouldn't change a thing, because the wonderful things that I didn't think of make up for it all.
--  I knew that it would be special to have children with my best friend.  I didn't realize the true depth of love that is borne out of this experience.  The Lord allows us to create a family - little lives that we cherish, out of the love that he has given us for each other.  What a privilege and miracle.  It is truly amazing to share this journey together.
--  One of my favorite things that I didn't think to anticipate - when Lily willingly and joyfully wants to hug me.  Because she wants to.  Because she loves me.  Because it is her idea to give me a hug.  I love it.
--  I had a feeling that it would get more entertaining when Lily started talking.  And I was more than 100% right.  Having children is more entertaining than I even dreamed it could be.  And getting to laugh with John about the big and little things that happen really can make my day.
--  Seeing the love that my girls already have for one another is more wonderful than I could have thought.  They LOVE each other (especially since Bella cannot yet take toys away from Lily)!  They make each other giggle and laugh, and I so look forward to the what I hope will be a dynamic friendship for life that they are building.  I love looking down in the double stroller to see that Lily is holding Bella's hand.  Too precious.
--  Because we have had some extreme situations with Lily and discipline, we have already gotten to see some great payoff in the area of discipline.  I didn't realize how rewarding it would be to see my child learn how to obey and to want to please us.
--  Seeing the way that God creates each of us uniquely right from the very beginning is pretty amazing.  Bella and Lily are already so different, because God has designed them to be so.

I really could go on and on.  There are great days, and there are harder days - just like in most people's lives.  I am really thankful to be where I am at for right now, whether I knew what all it would entail or not.


April Ciervo said...

The Lord uses you ALL the time through this blog to encourage those of us who don't have children yet. Thank you so much Carol (and John too!)