When I first gave birth to my son just over eighteen months ago, it was a mixed time of overwhelming joy and utterly mind-blowing chaos.
I’m just going to say what all mothers come to learn: Nothing – no third trimester sleepless nights, no parenting books, no sage advice nor all of the wisdom in the world – can prepare you for the complete insanity that is parenthood.
A friend of mine just had his second baby, another little girl. I asked him how he and his wife were adjusting to a two-child life and, as most parents do, his response was predominantly laughter. (I reckon that the amount of laughter grows with each new child born into a family, representing both the inflation of joy and the increased levels of crazy with each addition.)
That naturally led the conversation to the question that most expectant mothers want to ask and all current mothers love trying to pinpoint.
He asked me, “What do you think was the most unexpected thing about becoming a mother?”
I’d answered that question in a variety of ways over the last eighteen months. I have talked about the intense vulnerability such a tiny child creates as they tear open your heart and nestle in comfortably for the rest of your life. I have been in awe of God’s incredible grace over us, how He loves us so much, and trusts us inexplicably to create and grow a human being that is not only your child, but also a predecessor and a legacy. I know I have definitely answered the question by contemplating the purpose I felt given; how, when my son was born, I understood my purpose all over again, and how strategic and important my role was as a wife and as a mother.
This time though, my answer was the thing that has recently baffled me most.
“I reckon that the most daunting and incredible revelation I have had about motherhood is that it never ends.”
For the first five days of my son’s life, I slept eight hours in total. This was partly due to his prematurity and his early day needs; but also largely to do with my inability to get to sleep under pressure. When we finally came home on the sixth day (with a total of eight hours of sleep under my belt), I remember thinking to myself, “This is it. The night before he was born was my last good sleep; my last taste of freedom. No one is here to give me a breather, there’s no time to catch-up on missed sleep or exhaustion. From here on in, I’m fully and entirely responsible (with my husband, of course) for this tiny, dependent baby. He will never not need me.”
Then over the last eighteen months, even though it has been an absolute rollercoaster, I have found a rhythm.
Mums, you do find routine, you will catch up on sleep eventually and every minute of your life sacrificed to this dependent, delicate, noisy, mind-blowing, courageous, intelligent, beautiful poop-machine will not even be questioned at the end of the day as anything but worthy of all of your time and energy.
But one thing was definitely true: I will never get a break. I will always be his mother, and he will always be my child. I will never stop experiencing the heights of his happiness and the depths of his sadness. Until death, mothers, we will never finish caring for them, thinking about them, wanting to sacrifice our lives all over again to help them grow, and to learn, and to understand love. It makes life dizzily and joyfully complete and also hurts in the most hidden part of my heart.
“But,” I told my friend, “I wouldn’t have it any other way. There is no experience on earth like giving up your entire life to growing another human being. It is life’s heaviest glory. Even if it takes all of me, all of the time, no breaks, never-ceasing… I would choose to have my heart broken and made whole all over again.”
He laughed again (that good ol’ two-kid family kinda laugh), then agreed wholeheartedly.
Kat lives in Perth, Western Australia and is pretty happy with her dandy life of 30 years. She is married to Andrew, who is a freelance graphic designer, all-around cool guy and now dad to their ridiculously adorable little boy.
Kat is a manager of a cafe, with a background that looks like a bag of assorted mixed lollies – administration, finance, selling yoghurt, image consulting, making coffee, and account managing. She loves Jesus, reading, drinking a decent cup of coffee, writing and cooking.