Friday, January 10, 2014

The One for the New Mamas: Your Life Isn't Over

"Huh," he said, giving my pregnant belly a sideways glance, bitterness seeping out of his orange, leathery face. "Well get ready for your life to be over." 

Stunned, I handed him his coffee. I tried to send an apologetic glance to his wife and teenage son who were standing next to him at the bakery where I worked. Their eyes were on the ground. 

{I interrupt this program to say that that man is lucky a certain clumsy, pregnant barista didn't "trip" and spill his hot coffee down his pants} {And may I also point out that instead of enacting my fantasy of vengeance, I smiled and told him that I was embracing motherhood and my husband and I were overjoyed to become parents and welcome new life. I spread grace instead of fists. I've come a long way, y'all.}

Though this man's bitterness was the most extreme comment I received, while I was pregnant I was given so many negative, doom-and-gloom statements about how my life would change, or be over.

And it isn't even the direct comments.

There is an idea permeating our culture like a rotting disease felling elms from the inside out.

The idea that when you have kids, your life is over. You can't do anything. You have no freedom. Didn't finish your degree yet? Forget it. Want a night out? Nope. Say goodbye to your friends and your pretty clothes and ... well... you. You are now doomed to drown in Chef Boyardee and baby toys.

And do you know what I've found?

That is a lie.
Romans 8:37-39

Life does change with parenthood. Your life will never be the same again. But do you want to know something? Your life is in a constant state of flux, whether or not you realize it.

Nothing could have prepared me for motherhood. The moment the boy that made me a mama was placed in my arms, all cries and quivering chin and purply, wet skin, my role forever shifted. The reality of my motherhood hit me. God gave me this life to guard and nurture.

I became a steward of souls.

But the truth is that I was still me. There was a shift in roles but not in my abilities.

Motherhood is something you have to learn to do. We first time mamas grope and stumble our way through the a haze of no sleep and slow recoveries for the first months and years, hoping we're doing it right. We yearn for grace, for affirmation that we're not letting our babies and ourselves and our husbands down. Because when we cry in frustration at 2 a.m. and want someone - anyone - else to take that inconsolable infant, we feel like failures and bad moms.

To the new mamas, whether you just discovered a new heartbeat thumping under your own or you've already given birth, this is for you.

I'm a new mama too, but I'm learning. And we can learn together. We can come together when we slip up. When we just want to take a shower and actually shave both legs at once. When we think we're the worst mom ever. When the noise of how other people think you should parent pushes on you from the outside and the cacophony of your own self doubt is ballooning inside you.

When we show up, when we do what we need to do even when we're so tired we can't walk straight, we *are* doing it. When you love that baby so much it hurts sometimes, you're doing it. You've got it, with the grace and power of Christ, you've got it. Every mama stumbles and falls and is crippled from time to time with doubts and fears.

You will pass out of the haze. Those first months will be the longest of your life but you'll get the hang of it. You'll learn. With the right amount of support and grace from those around you, motherhood is something you can learn to do without letting it consume you.

Just remember that in order to be the best mom, you still have to be you. You still need to carve time to breathe, to do something that affirms the woman you were and are and are becoming. Still be a wife, still be the daughter of God. Still be a friend. You - and your children - will be better for it.

No mama can mother on empty. You need to still feed your soul.

Your life isn't over when you become a mom. You enter into a new season of growth. You change in ways you never thought you'd change, but if you but open your eyes, you will see the glory of God even in the changing of diapers and feeding and naptimes. You'll see Him move you and grow you and deepen your capacity to love.

Don't lose heart. And don't listen to those who would tell you that motherhood means your life is over.

Because we can all choose to fully live wherever we are, but that's a post for another day. 


  1. Good post. The line, drowning in Chef Boyardee and baby toys made me crack up.