I remember the night I came home from the hospital holding the baby who made me a momma. Walking into the home that had felt so secure just three days before, everything suddenly felt treacherous, stunningly isolated. Uncovered outlets and a baby room too far from my own, danger seemed to lurk at every turn. Pain racked my body and healing, safety, peace felt a distant memory of the life I would never get back. My husband, vulnerable in his sense of uselessness ran to the nearest drugstore to stock up on painkillers, diaper cream, gas drops, ice chips, more swaddling blankets, and, oh, more painkillers. I remember the panicked look on his face when he came in to announce the total of his ten minute run. "Is it always going to be like this?" He said, and then swallowing his own sense of financial doom, took the baby to change and rock and bounce and stare at. "What now?", I remember thinking as my life had ended and begun. Apparently we were parents now. And didn't know where to begin.
Then, at five weeks old, her drawers packed full of frillies and pinks ready for the donning, but the energy to to pull them out was nowhere to be found. For five weeks she had lived in pajamas, clothed in a onesie on special occasions. Shoes I had adored and poured over sat outgrown already on shelves. Motherhood was here while I had blinked, and apparently I wouldn't be a mother who dressed my children for the day.
Now four babies earth-side and one growing within, I stock up one plain zippered sleepers for the first three months, not any less, not any more. Not enough to fill a hamper, but enough to get through a week without washing, the perfect ratio of plenty to grab from without overwhelming a sleep deprived mom with laundry. It's how I know we do things for survival.
I remember my mom's survival well. Mother to three three and under, she spent many a long night and longer day alone as her husband, my father, sacrificed his time for the provision of us all. And so, she lived life with us, side by side in the tedious, our training always foremost in her mind. Everything was a process with steps for the best, vacuuming was about the lines, the overlapping, and the stepping back to examine. Cleaning the bathrooms was my chore each week, and training was long, laborious for both of us. Powder for the shower, liquid for the toilet, the counters with the bottle with which we clear, spray, wipe, repeat, return and scrutinize from various angles. The dishes were equally as systematic; they weren't finished until any final suds or spots were shined with a dry rag which was was to be promptly folded and placed across the faucet.
Independence, self-sufficiency was always the goal, vision begot wisdom in the daily.
It's been enough to make me question myself at times, though. When I crave quiet and need space. When I try and fail and fail to try.
When will I be that kind of mother? The one I was raised by and the ones I see around me.
When do we become the momma who understands just the right temperature for cold cloths on feverish foreheads? When will brushing hair become natural, without pulls, without tears? Who teaches the correct ratio of chocolate to milk, syrup to pancakes, peanut butter to honey, and when to use jelly? How do we learn tender touches for the nightmared nights and nuzzles in the dark? When does patience, sacrifice, wisdom become second nature, first instinct?
But when I ponder further I realize, it wasn't really a single moment that I remember of my raising, but the story of the journey.
Because it was ours. And now, a part of the one my family writes together.
Not ever to say that the mother who has not yet held her own, or the one who, full, holds the babe within is any less a mother in her walk than another, but could it be simply that an even richer fruit is found in the toil of the daily? Not ever to say that the mother salt sweat fresh, meeting her flesh for the first time outside of dreams is any less deserving of her name than the one greyed with journey, but could it be that greater reward is always to come and one is now reaping in her role.
And thus, is it possible that the beauty of my children's stories is more of an unfolding than an occurrence? Could it be that the beauty is best found in the uniqueness of our mistakes, our forgiveness, our tears just as much as our triumphs?
Could it be that motherhood blooms in the journey, not simply the bestowment of the title?
Because while we sacrifice and sow, while we blunder and bless, cultivated best by rains of grace and rays of mercy, what a tremendous harvest we are nurturing.
And on the subject of grace, please make sure to check out our giveaway here going on until June 5th!
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