In the past several months, I have experienced lots of change: I got married, moved across the country, started a new job, conceived and lost a child, moved again, and discovered that I am bearing a second child.
If tasked with divvying up our lives into various chapters, we would probably find it quite easy to mark off certain periods – periods marked by beginnings or endings, great changes, challenges, or accomplishments. As each day is a transition from yesterday to tomorrow, so the chapters of our lives are periods of transition – from who we were in the period before, to who we will be in the period to come. What follows are some musings as I try to wrap my mind around the mysterious transition of me into motherhood.
There wasn’t a child, and then there was a child.
A new soul was breathed forth from God; a new word was made flesh. (John 1:14, RSV) I have no idea who this child is, he is shrouded in mystery. His existence isn’t felt, isn’t even certain to me. The pregnancy test was positive yesterday, but if I took another one today, will it be negative? How can I say with 100% certainty that he lives, this microscopic life within me?
And then his life is felt. In a matter of days I went from a fairly normal diet to one of cereal and ice cream. Most things smelled terrible. I was exhausted – partly from pregnancy, partly from not eating enough. Laundry and dishes both lay in heaps. My custom of putting lovely suppers on the table for my hardworking husband was abruptly terminated. A trip up the stairs, let alone to the grocery store or to my exercise mat, became arduous. My already-mothering friends told me to “make peace with dysfunctionality.” My habits, routines, hobbies – the things to which I clung and which gave me a perhaps superficial sense of identity – crumbled.
I am reminded of how a relationship with another person forces you to face yourself – dating and marriage, particularly.
What is revealed isn’t always pretty. And here, once again, a person is shaking me out of my complacency, shattering my illusions about who I am and how this is all supposed to work. My baby is here, inside me, growing and changing and inviting me to change and grow.
The relationship that is affecting these changes is also mysterious. This baby is dependent on me. How odd: I don’t feel particularly able to support any dependents right now. Heck, I’m barely able to take care of myself! But somehow, lying on the couch is serving that child. Somehow, Goldfish and peach yogurt are sustaining that life – both of our lives, in fact. And somehow, beautifully, painfully, this baby’s dependence on and development within me makes me realize what a dependent creature I am. In my worst moments, I am quite helpless. I am vulnerable. I am dependent – on others, yes (my dear husband has picked up a lot of little details lately), but especially on God.
I must look to Him for my daily bread.
I am certainly not baking it for myself (my probably dead sourdough languishes in the fridge as a lower lifeform makes place for a much, much higher one). I must look to Him for my joy (perhaps the joy of parenthood was dampened with the loss of the first baby). I must look to Him for the strengthening of my faith (that this current transition is part of His plan for my life, and that He is ever-ready to flood me with graces, should I only turn and accept them).
I must look to Him, also, for truth. What does He see? How is He trying to correct me and my distorted vision? My worth is not the sum total of how many tasks I accomplished today; and it is certainly not dictated by my moods. Who does He want me to be tomorrow? I have so many fears about tomorrow. But what are fears if not a lack of trust in God?
Logically, one should begin at the beginning. And the beginning is now.
Every moment is an opportunity to begin again, to focus again on “the one thing needful.” (2 Luke 10:42, RSV) Today is my transition; I am writing this chapter now. As a story unfolds as I read it, so will my motherhood unfold as I live it. God willing, I will come to know and love this child, I will come to a better understanding and love of myself, that ultimately we can both come to a better knowledge and love of God, the Ancient of Days, the unchangeable One, in Whom all our lives and loves find perfection and eternal joy.