Wednesday, February 06, 2013

Letter to a new mom

I am privileged to know many, many sweet friends who are in the thick of motherhood - having babies left and right... this letter is what has been on my heart lately as I watch each of them tentatively enter the role of 'mom.'

Dearest new mom,

I wanted to let you know I'm praying for you in these early days of motherhood. I remember so vividly the exhaustion and elation of becoming a family. There was more than one moment when I just completely broke down, so overwhelmed, and declared "I can't do this!" It's hard. But it's also SO sweet in so many ways and somehow, miraculously, God gives us the strength to keep giving.

Motherhood is about giving more than anything else. You've already given your body to grow this precious little one... and now you continue to nurture and give your body to provide sustenance and warmth and comfort.

You will give time when there is no time.
Attention when you feel as though there isn't one attentive cell left in your brain.
You will answer questions you could never imagine being asked.
And wake up when all you want to do is sleep.

You will give so much.

You will receive as well... sweet little whimpers as he nurses... big toothless grins... the magic of being THE ONE who can soothe him. As he gets older you will be the keeper of secrets, the kisser of boo-boos, the maker of lunches, his most favorite girl in the world, if only for awhile...

You also have the privilege of following in Mary's wise example - and you will be the one who ponders. You will ponder the miracle of those tiny little fingers clasping yours. The overwhelming surge of maternal love as you watch him sleep. The sweet smell of sweaty curls as he awakes from his nap. The horror of his first real episode of being sick. The bittersweet milestone of his first day of school... you will ponder it all and hold it in your heart.

Hold it in your heart, sweet new mom.

It is so cliché, but you will blink your eyes and soon be pondering the miracle of a full grown man walking about your house making plans to leave. After years of lamenting the making of his school lunch, you will again be relishing in any opportunity to mother him... carefully crafting his favorite sandwiches just because it's one of the only tangible ways you can continue to share your love with him. There will be no more slobbery kisses now. Only quick little 'love ya mom' texts and an occasional awkward kiss on the cheek.

Even in the hardest, most gut wrenching moments, I have understood in my heart of hearts that being a mother was a high calling. That giving myself away to nurture the four precious souls I've been privileged to love is to be sure, the most difficult and insanely delicate balance of sacrifice and satisfaction. It is sacred work that asks much and whose returns are often illusive and infrequent. This appointment will probably not earn you much recognition or renown. But it is a distinction to savor. A job to treasure.

You are a mom.

So lean into the exhaustion, the awkward acknowledgement that you have no idea what to do, the utterly overwhelming and breathtaking mess of your new impossible task. As you surrender to it, you become privy to the mystery of God's strength being perfect in your weakness.

You will be compensated for your efforts with more opportunities to give, which can sometimes feel like a cruel trick. But as you give, you gain. Not in earthly treasures, or in accolades. But in quietness you will know... you will know that you have participated in the sanctified and blessed ritual of all mothers before you. An undertaking so rich in self-denial that as you begin the recognize the sheer magnitude of the payoff, you may be overwhelmed by the recognition that you have reaped more than you ever sowed. That your efforts have multiplied and your willingness to give your heart away has returned immeasurable gifts.

You are a mom.

Soak up that teeny tiny baby. All those little folds and creases and messes and smells... what I wouldn't give now to hold my children in that perfect space between my chin and my belly button - that space where just your heartbeat can take away their fear. What a ridiculous and crazy honor it is to be the soother of another soul.

I am so happy for you, new mom. I watch you from afar, kept away by my own shyness and my respect for the careful spot you are in as you figure out your new role. But I want you to know I am here for you. Praying for you and jealously watching as he nuzzles your neck and as you kiss his cheeks.

If ever you need anything, I would love to help. In all the years of giving, I've learned a bit along the way. Somehow I find myself in the role of mature mom. Almost-the-mom-of-grown-children. (Carefully-dyed-)grey-haired-mom. That comes with a fair bit of knowledge and an awful lot of confidence in God's goodness and provision. It also provides perspective.

So if every you feel lost in the diapers and the toys and the exhaustion, I would be honored to help you find yourself again. I would love to be the one to encourage you and remind you of the ridiculous wonder of motherhood.

You know where to find me.

Congratulations, new mom. You are so beautiful and so blessed. God be with you.

6 comments:

  1. Beautiful Cathy... It is so hard to let them go but you have done a fantastic job with all your children and they will go out into the world young but very wise children having had parents like you and Asia. Yes, it is scary to send them off on their own but they will do fine. They have the Lord to lead them and you can have confidence in them and in Him to watch over them as He guides their lives. I know they will become beacons of light in the world for Him ~~ LOVE YOU ! Mom

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  2. WWLisa9:10 AM

    I found myself applying your words to my own new reality as mom of an almost-teenager. Oh my goodness -- the ups, downs, dramas that seem so small to me looming so big in his day. I'm never sure that I know the right thing to do, or say at any given moment to this boy who was so 'easy' before! But reading what you've written reminds me that I've been blessed with the chance to shepherd him through this tough teen time, leaning on the staff of prayers (LOTS of prayers). Some days it doesn't feel like a blessing.......but I know that far too soon I'm going to be looking back and realizing that it only lasted moments in the timeline of our lives. Thanks for reminding me to relish those moments.

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  3. Anonymous12:41 PM

    I am sitting here in tears. This is so beautiful. So true!
    Thanks for saying it.
    francie

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  4. I SO needed to read this today. We are having a rough, rough day around here. Trying to juggle a toddler and a new baby is not easy. Thanks, Cathy!

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  5. This is so beautifully written and carefully versed that it even touches this mama in the thick of elementary aged kids. THank you for sharing your heart, C. XOXO

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  6. This is about the most beautiful thing I have ever read about motherhood, Cathy. It needs to go viral. :) Thank you for sharing from your vantage point--it's especially meaningful to me as I'm a few years behind you. I was holding my four-year-old the other day and expressing my gratitude that he's still small enough to fit in my arms. I can't imagine what it's going to be like when he can't, after 12 years of always having a little person who does. It's also a great reminder that no matter where we fall on the motherhood spectrum, there is always someone coming up behind us who needs our support and encouragement.

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