One week after Charis' birth, my mom headed home and I was left to mother this little baby with the help of my husband. But as he was getting back to work, there were many parts of the job that were left to me to do alone. Certainly feeding her fell squarely in my court and I took over most of the bottle feeding as well. Diaper changes, baths, up in the middle of the night, all of this was mostly my responsibility.
But Adam was there. Even if he didn't get up each time in the middle of the night or feed her for the 1,000th time that day, he was an emotional support and often gave me a break by feeding her and getting up at 2 in the morning. On top of it all, he did the lion's share of housework to keep the apartment in working order.
The difficulty of mothering a newborn was so clear to me, because I knew I had a husband to lean on. When my mom had me, it was just her and me. She had me on her own.
Recently she gave me a couple of letters that she had written when I was a baby to be read during those difficult teen years. While there were some difficult times for me, my teen years were really quite tame (my main emotional and relational support has always been from my family - as opposed to looking for acceptance from my friends). So at 36, I read the letters.
I wept through parts, thinking of how difficult it has been over the past few months to mother such a little baby. How helpless I've felt, trying to ascertain what she could possibly need. Feeling like a failure when once again what I offered is not comforting her. Over and over again, I was struck with how strong my own mother is. To have done all that I have done, but to do it solo.
When talking about those first 5 years of my life, She will often say that she would consult God as she would have consulted a physical spouse. You know how we say things like, "Well, I wouldn't have chosen [that particular difficulty or suffering], but I grew in ways I could have never imagined"? I know her relationship with God was forged through those difficult years of parenting alone, and that her prayer life was planted and cultivated through those years of loneliness, feeling helpless, and possibly fear of what she might miss out on having chosen to have a little daughter.
God blessed her with many sweet and wonderful moments because she chose to give me life. But she didn't know those sweet and wonderful moments would come. All she knew was how to be faithful at the time. And even now, with some of the difficulties life has presented her in the last 10 years, she faithfully consults the Lord and is a model for me to emulate.
Not too long ago I posted this on Facebook. It makes me teary every time.
Because the part that undoes me is, "You make me want to fall at my mother's feet and tell her that I get it!"
Mom, You are an inspiration to me and to my sister as we mother your grandchildren. I love you.