I was thinking of changing my blog name again since it’s been so long since I had a new name. But then S was born and the idea of “A Thousand Daily Deaths” was one I keep coming back to as we adjust to being parents.
Being S’s mother is by far the hardest thing I’ve ever done. The last two months have given me a glimpse of the depth of my sin I hadn’t seen before. At first that was terrifying, but it’s now an everyday reminder of all that God has done for me in Christ.
I am a very selfish person, and there are lots of things about being a mother that I don’t like.
Motherhood can be boring. Sitting on the couch feeding her AGAIN. Holding her quietly and doing nothing for a long time to help her wind down AGAIN (she needs so much help to nap!). Patting her back for 20 minutes to get her to settle down AGAIN.
Motherhood is hard. It’s not hard like I thought it would be. It’s not that anything in and of itself is all that hard anymore. It’s hard in the “I’m so tired of xyz” sort of way: when let down is still overactive, she still has reflux, I’m still not healed, she still fights sleep so much.
There are times when I just want to cook, clean, write, go for a run, or play oboe.
So there are thousands of times a day that I must die to self to take care of S and to not complain to Ezra or pass her off to him when he gets home just because I have a long to-do list.
Before S was born, most of my day was at my discretion. Now I get an hour here or there. It gets easier, but not in the way I expected. It gets easier not because S changes but because I do. I kept waiting for it to get easier – people said after a month, then six weeks… So when six weeks was a screaming baby we had rarely seen before, I was really discouraged. But in the last two weeks, I think she has calmed down and we understand her more, but more than that, I decided to stop having expectations. I still have hopes for how things will go and where she should be at, but I’ve realized that I have to take my baby where she’s at right now, not where people say she should be (especially hard since we’re doing things we didn’t want to do because of her reflux. But also know that even if you do it “right” from day one, that doesn’t mean it will all just fall into place). Yet even as I worked on this post, I was waiting for the nurse in the ER for mastitis (though I’m still not convinced it was, because if it was it was a very mild case).
So I’m not expecting her to take every nap on her own or go three hours between feeds during the day or sleep in the co-sleeper at night because of her reflux (which side-lying nursing seems to be working wonders for at night).
And I’m learning my own new limits, and that there are things you can do (like being out at the mall all day) but it won’t be the best thing.
My to-dos are also changing. First to focus on God, Ezra, and S, but also to look at what I have time and capacity to do with a new normal that never normalizes (as I learn the art of one-handed-ness). I have lots of time to putter around on my iPod. But I realized that I can spend that time writing emails, blog posts, and Facebook notes instead of just surfing the Internet (especially with the dangers of looking up too much baby advice), investing in others instead of wasting time. Taking care of S is productive and fruitful in its own way, but it’s still nice to be able to do more.
It also gets easier when you don’t base your mood on how the baby is doing, and similarly, when you don’t use the clock to complain about how long you’ve been trying to get her to sleep (though it can be helpful to watch the clock to know if something isn’t working or that what felt like an hour was only ten minutes).
And it gets even easier when you remember that Christ is our strength and sustenance, not sleep.
The joy of the Lord, not our circumstances, is our strength, and with His strength we can choose to love and we can see parenting and the dying to self required in it as a privilege, not a burden. If the joy of the Lord is our strength, it means that we trust Him for strength whether things are easy or not.
This doesn’t mean you no longer struggle or have to die to self, but that in Him it is possible to. In time it does get easier, but again, I think that’s because we change, not because our circumstances do.
Though whether it gets easier or not, I do know that dying to self bears fruit.
“Unless a grain of wheat falls into the ground and dies, it remains alone. But if it dies, it bears much fruit.” John 12:24
It bears fruit in my own life, but also in S and E and all those around me as I grow in Christlikeness and the fruit of the Spirit (because being a mom has shown me more than anything else that there’s no way it’s the fruit of Kyleigh).
That doesn’t mean it happens quickly. It takes time and work and prayer. But He will always help us.
“Wait for the Lord, be strong and take courage and wait for the Lord.”