Oh that first year was hard. I have NEVER enjoyed getting up early. My mind has a very hard time winding down at night and when I finally got my baby to bed that first year. I was ready for ME time. Now looking back my priorities were a little out of kilter but I was a young 22 year old who was ready to go out and be entertained not nurturing a little tyke. Never the less my convictions and sense of responsibility kept me at home with her and kept me nursing her and kept me GETTING UP STINKING EARLY! Oh I still
That first year my head hurt from being SOOOOO bored! The baby and I would stay home and I would clean it up the house and then play with her and the first 10 minutes were OK but man my head and my heart were just not up for this. I tried everything and I really did fall more in love with her everyday, but I was BORED! This was not exciting it was tiring, it was monotonous, and it was not what I thought it should be. I lived for nap time! Not to mention hubby and I had just moved 1,200 miles away from my family and all of our friends. I was lonely and I did not like this place and I was counting the days until she was 18 and I could have a life again, but then I would reason that really by the time she was 15 she would have a life of her own and I would have some freedom. I dreaded having another child because that 18 year sentence would start ALL OVER AGAIN!
She was a dear little baby. Very cute and I poured my heart into her. I had a schedule, to teach her, everything from her sounds to play doh. I would take her outside and play "school", showing her bubbles and dirt and bugs. I did everything I was supposed to do, I loved her and cuddled her and read to her, but I did not like being a mom. I remember looking at hubby and crying, "I never get a day off, it is 24 hours a day and not one day off. Even when I'm not here I'm a mom! I can't quit, I can't leave...." Looking back it was a very hard time for me. I tend to be fiercely independent and will do it ON MY OWN and that is what I was doing. On my own terms, without help from anybody - I didn't even pray about it.
One day I couldn't do it anymore. I couldn't survive on sheer conviction and I prayed and prayed and prayed. I cried and sobbed and was just overly exhausted. EXHAUSTED, that was the only word that resonated with me. The only word that I understood. I hadn't had a full nights sleep in about 11 months, I never put her down, I jumped at the tiniest little sound, and I poured everything I had into her. I was not balanced. I was obsessed with being the best mom I could be and I was hating it. I was like a mama bear in overdrive. Looking back I can see how I pushed all help away and saw it all as a threat entreating on my domain between me and my child and the perfect world I was creating for her.
It was shortly after this that I believe God introduced people that helped me put it in perspective. An elder at our congregation, one day walked up to me and said, "You know it is all about ebb and flow and keeping it balanced." I wish I could say I understood his metaphor immediately, but I didn't, it took a while but it stuck with me. Then I met some dear friends who were exemplary parents and I took notice of rules and boundaries placed on their children and I implemented them in my own life and then slowly, slowly God changed my heart and calmed the desperation to be the perfect parent and created a desire to be a Godly parent. I relaxed and I relaxed and I relaxed.
I see new moms today and sometimes I can spot my first year in some of them. I smile and sometimes I think, "you know it is all about ebb and flow and keeping it balanced." I know their loneliness and their fear that maybe their baby will know that sometimes this work is dreaded! I hesitate to share because I remember my own reluctance at advice. So I share my story with you here. I know what it is like and I remember my own feelings of inadequacy as I embarked on my journey that I knew exactly where I was headed but had no idea how to get there.
Next month my oldest daughter will turn 10. I will have been doing this mom thing for a decade. I wouldn't be where I am today if it hadn't been for the pruning year. The year of dying more to self and learning more how to live to serve and not live to be served.
I now feel totally different. I have confidence with those wailing adorable bundles of upheaval. I have experienced the fleeting moments of that first year. I love my life and my children and would welcome starting another 18 year sentence. I love that I'm so relaxed with them; maybe.... just a little too relaxed... let the pendulum swing!