~Recently, I was asked to share the devotional at a friend’s baby shower. After much prayer and advice from others, the Lord led me to share a few of the things I wish I had known as a brand-new mother. I hope it is encouraging.~
It’s 2am. Small cries inform you that your baby is awake again and needs you. You fumble in the dark so you won’t to turn on any lights and just manage to get your child fed. You may begin to doze off now, only to reawaken when you hear an explosion emanating from her posterior. Up again, lights on, new diaper. Back to bed. Almost asleep…oh my goodness! Again! This time up the back of her onesie. Repeat the last three steps. Rather than drifting back to sleep, you’re more awake now and so is your baby. In fact, she thinks now is a perfect time to tell you her list of demands. Loudly.
Now your husband is awake. You both take turns walking up and down the room, bouncing and singing to your precious progeny wondering helplessly what in the world she wants.
Eventually, she goes to sleep. Your husband drags himself to work. You’re tempted to get some housework done or take the opportunity to get some quiet time with the Lord. You fall asleep trying to decide.
It’s noon. You’re still in your pjs, rushing around trying to get a few things in order before you run out (now late) to your mom’s and baby group.
Baby spits up on you. Of course, you remembered a change of clothes for her but forgot to pack an extra shirt for yourself.
After group, where you felt like your baby was the only one not doing what everyone else’s babies were doing (sitting up, rolling over, saying “mama”, contentedly enjoying tummy-time or (GASP) sleeping through the night), you make a quick run to the store. Your baby coos through half the trip, then screams through the rest. You’re sure the whole store is staring at you. Flustered, you forget two of the items you needed.
On the way home, she falls asleep. You decide for the sake of your sanity to place the car seat in the bedroom so she can continue her nap.
Your mom calls. She wants to know what’s new with you and her grandchild. You tell her everything is fine but maybe let slip something that’s giving you a hard time with the baby. She means well, but all you hear is everything you’re doing wrong.
Evening approaches. You’ve made a stab at the housework and now you need to make dinner buuuuuuut you need those couple of ingredients you missed at the store. You call your husband to see if he’ll pick them up and you’ll eat late or if you should opt for take-out.
Your baby is an absolute delight until bedtime where she proceeds to fuss and cry until eventually exhaustion prevails and she falls asleep. At this point your husband, who has enjoyed several boosts of caffeine throughout the day, twinkles his eyes suggestively at you while inside you’re thinking “you’ve got to be kidding!” Ultimately, the evening ends with very little sleep and some frustration. The cycle begins again with the wake-up calls of your baby.
Congratulations! Welcome to motherhood! Anyone who is a mother can relate to parts or maybe all of this scenario. From the moment your baby is born, the task of motherhood is unending. It is highly demanding on you physically, emotionally, and spiritually.
Physically, your body, already having spent nine months feeling stretched to the limit, is changing all over again. You can feel self-conscious of how you look post-baby; fearful you’ll never return to how you once were. Lack of sleep and constant production of nourishment for your baby is taxing. Maybe breastfeeding is far more challenging for you than you imagined.
Emotionally, it’s easy to feel very lonely as a new mother. Often, you think you’re the only one dealing with a baby as difficult as yours and that no one understands. You look around at the other mothers in your life and wonder how they can manage to make it look so easy; surely, there must be something wrong with you. You may even sense some distance between yourself and your husband as baby’s needs demand more time away from each other.
And spiritually, it can be so easy to slack from your regular study of the Word and time in prayer. Instead, you begin to rely on your own strength to get you through the day. When that happens, you can very quickly feel starved.
Philippians 4:4 tells us: “Rejoice in the Lord always; again, I will say, rejoice.” God wants us to cultivate a joyful spirit. It may be easier to allow ourselves to feel down and even complain when we are exhausted. Earlier in motherhood, I remember feeling sorry for myself when I would be awakened by kids in the middle of the night; I resented that my “right” to sleep had been violated and I would allow it to affect the next day. God convicted me of this, and instead I began to remember scripture verses about joy when I had to get out of bed and I set a new habit: I chose to always greet my child with a smile whenever I saw them. Remember, “A joyful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.” Proverbs 17:22.
Resist the temptation to compare yourself to those around you. Your story will always be different from someone else’s. The mothers around you who seem to have it all together have struggles of their own. Pray that God would protect you from feelings of inadequacy and thoughts that because this motherhood thing isn’t flowing the way you expected means you somehow “missed your calling” elsewhere in the world. Despite what the world or even well-intentioned family will tell you, your life is not “on hold” because you’re having a baby; this IS your life. Don’t grow to resent your baby because you believe she’s keeping you from doing something “more meaningful”. Cultivate an attitude of gratitude. Have joy in being where God has you right now at this moment. “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:6-7
Remember that your husband still comes before your baby. It’s easy to give all your time and attention to your baby and forget to make time and attention for your man. Yes, your baby needs you very much especially in the beginning but keep in mind that she is a welcome addition to an already established family unit but not the center of it. (Genesis 2:24 “Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.”) The new inclusion of one person does not exclude the other. Find a good balance together. Husbands and wives need each other. Your children need to have a mommy and daddy to need each other. They will grow best and derive a sense of security when they see their parents not only spending their own time together but enjoying each other.
Psalms 63:1 “O God, you are my God; earnestly I seek you; my soul thirsts for you; my flesh faints for you, as in a dry and weary land where there is no water.” Above anything else, put God first. Back in my earlier days of motherhood, I told a friend how overwhelmed I felt with everything, that I didn’t know how to get it all done managing kids, a home, being a wife, and serving God. What she told me was so simple. Put God first. Set aside all that “other stuff” and go to Him first. He will give you your portion for that day. And when you seek Him diligently and increase in craving the Word each day, that “stuff” won’t matter because you will be obediently and joyfully pursuing what He has given you for that particular time.
Don’t try to do anything in your own strength. God wants us to realize just how desperately we need Him. For some of us, like me, it takes a lot of reminding. When I’m not feasting on the Word, I’m quick to tell myself “I’ll get to that later” and rely on my own strength to do things. How quickly I crash! God in His gracious mercy, has shown me repeatedly that there is no moment in motherhood where I can exclaim, “I have arrived!” And with each child He has awesomely blessed me with, I have been that much more driven to my knees in prayer for His help. And that’s where He wants us. “But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’” 2 Corinthians 12:9
So, what about the wonderful fuzzy feelings that babies are supposed to bring with them? Oh, they’ll be there. As you faithfully pursue God, slow down and take the time to just enjoy your baby because she will grow so fast! You’ll hardly be able to get over marveling at her tiny fingers and toes. You will be beside yourself with delight at her first smile or when she locks eyes with you and recognition floods her little face. There will be wonderful snuggles and times when you’ll feel you could stare at her perfect form for hours. If I could go back to the early days with my first, I would have put down a lot of the housework and cuddled my baby more.
The road of motherhood is rough, but you don’t have to travel it alone. Don’t be afraid to seek out advice from godly women around you. They are there to encourage you and pray for you. Don’t be like me when I tried to figure it out on my own because I couldn’t bear to admit I was struggling. Be open in your communication with your husband and strive to be of one mind together in raising your daughter.
Being a mother is one of the most incredible tasks God gives. Just think! In His wisdom, He chose you to be the mother of this child, another human being created in the image of God, His most precious creation. He has charged you and your husband with the responsibility and privilege to raise her for His glory.
I love how God uses many things in this life to remind us of the relationship He desires to have with us. Motherhood is yet another beautiful picture of God’s perfect and boundless love. A mother sacrifices daily her needs and desires for her child; Christ came to serve and not be served. A mother would give her life for her child, and God sent His only Son.
“For you formed my inward parts;
you knitted me together in my mother’s womb.
I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.
Wonderful are your works;
my soul knows it very well.
My frame was not hidden from you,
when I was being made in secret,
intricately woven in the depths of the earth.
Your eyes saw my unformed substance;
in your book were written, every one of them,
the days that were formed for me,
when as yet there was none of them.”