I would be lying if I said that I have fully surrendered to motherhood.
The shock of parenting is like turning on the car and the radio volume is on full blast from yesterday’s drive home with the windows open. Getting used to the noise has been a process.
Eden coming home was the starting line to a marathon with no real end. Giving her the Patton family name was the first step of one million steps, including the ones she will take mere months from now as she toddles out of babyhood into a little person with a clear fingerprint of God on her precious soul.
She transformed Kevin and I from waiting, confused, hurt but expectant parents into names on her doctor’s appointment under Mother and Father.
On Mother’s Day, I thanked her for making me a mother. She looked up at me with an open mouth and brown eyes, a sliver of light brightening them even more. Her curls danced, her tiny fingers waved, her legs kicked, toes pointed.
But even today, five months in, I am still wrestling with the loss of independence.
My disappointment surprises me as I get to the end of the day, collapsing into the feeding chair for the fifth time that day, holding her still as she wiggles and jiggles and pushes away her bottle for no reason. I huff and puff at her, asking her why she isn’t eating, and then set the bottle aside to give both of us a breath. I think about how much time I spent on her today. How much work Kevin and I put into her from the crack of dawn to sunset.
She lays in my arms, helpless and void of independence as well. I realize we both need each other, we both want each other, we both love each other, but yet we feel trapped and are bemoaning the tiny things that aren’t within our reach right now.
I knew that motherhood would be a challenge, and I was ready to embrace it.
I still am.
I embrace it every day, I must.
It’s a conscious decision to walk toward embracing my calling. Yes, I have always wanted it, but that doesn’t negate the forceful rub that parenting is after 30 years of only being in charge of myself.
Motherhood comes to me each morning with sunshine, rays of hope and a fresh number on the calendar. It comes with second chances, with renewed energy, with a bowl of cereal and the Bible to start my day.
The benefits are slowly rising to the surface, and I am learning to skim the top, scooping up the little bits of heaven.
Even if I push and pull at the strain that 24-7 parenting brings, it still warms me like a lamp in the core of my being. It makes me smile and laugh more than anything else can right now, because Eden is brand new. I am doing everything for the first time, so I am also seeing things through her eyes for the first time, too.
Every itsy-bitsy sign of growth is cause for wonder and amusement, like we are spending a day at the zoo.
She is fascinated with her hands, and loves to grab the belly of her shirt to pull into her mouth, just to let go of it seconds later. She yearns to be held and quiets when Kevin or I lift her 16 pound body into our arms and walk around. She is finding her voice, shrieking and babbling. Her curiosity amuses me.
Sometimes when I am bucking against my new season, I think about past words from a stranger.
I was only 3 weeks old as a mother, and I was a bridesmaid in my friend’s wedding. At the rehearsal dinner, I spoke with a woman who transformed from a stranger to a prophet in our first moments in conversation. She didn’t know about Eden, about the whirlwind adoption, about my exhaustion.
But the second she found out, she turned her eyes to me, wide with kindness and understanding that transcended time.
“Oh, honey.” She asked to see a picture of baby girl and tears came to her eyes. She was speechless. And then with a tilted face full of sweet mercy and love, she said,
“Give yourself a lot of grace. You’ve been through a lot.”
The pit of my stomach hardened with the compounding nausea I had been dealing with for weeks. My face quit being brave and her tears welcomed mine. I picked up the white starched napkin and brought it to my face.
I could have wet the napkin and ten more with my emotions.
Many times since that moment I have recalled her words of wisdom. They have been echoed by other loving friends and mentors who have seen me in my weakness and offered bits and pieces of strength when I was failing.
Give yourself a lot of grace.
I hear it. I want to believe it.
Can I give myself grace?
When everything is new, and decisions are mounting and I have no clue which way is up?
When baby is up three times in the night, wailing because she has flipped onto her back like a turtle and can’t roll back over?
When God is so near, so close like a friend, but I choose other things before opening the Word and letting his scripture pour light back into me?
Yes, I can give myself grace.
If surrendering to motherhood is a decision I make every day, I can accept the grace of God to summon the strength to allow Eden to fill my minutes, my hours, my days.
She’s worth it, but I can’t deny the fact that part of my old life still whispers its ease. I can’t lie and pretend that every second is dreamy. I have to realistically hold to the selfless endeavor that parenting is, in all its poopy diapers and interrupted nights.
Because that’s what makes it gold.
The struggle and the work shift my eyes off myself and on to my Creator God who breathed life into Eden’s lungs and gives me the strength in my bones and courage in my soul.
The surrender is sweet to taste and healing to my heart, there for the taking.