Saturday, June 21, 2014

For the Days your Baby Falls off the Changing Table

First of all, this letter is written to myself. And if I'm the only parent who has had a day like this, that's okay. But if you're having one of these days, I hope it encourages you too.

This is for the days when you're home alone with your baby all day long. You're a little lonely and a little tired.

This is for the days when you work for what feels like hours making a complicated dinner, trying to focus on each step and measurement while listening to your baby make his new beloved whiny noise.

This is for the days when you feel like you're going to lose it just looking at the dirty dishes and sticky countertops after dinner, and you think you'd give anything to have fifteen quiet minutes to yourself to clean in peace.

This is for the days when dinner is finished, the kitchen is clean, and your tired, grumpy toddler only wants to do the particular things that you tell him not to do. You're tired of hearing his complaints and you're tired of hearing yourself say 'no.'

This is for the days when you finally, exasperated, lug him upstairs to his room and lay him on the changing table to get him ready for bed. In your scattered, irritable state, you don't think twice about leaving him across the room to get out his pajamas -- and he rolls right off the changing table. He lands face-first with a thud and lets out a piercing wail that turns your stomach with guilt and floods your heart with terror.

What have I done?

This is for the days when you've comforted, snuggled, and consoled, but when you lay him in his crib he cries and cries, not ready to go to sleep. And it splits you in half to walk out of his room, because part of you knows he just needs sleep and part of you is sure you're the most horrible person who's ever lived.

Eventually, the crying stops. Your baby sleeps.

Another day of motherhood is complete, and you feel entirely crumpled and defeated.

Take heart, Beloved.

These seemingly endless, exhausting, heart-wrenching, strength-testing days are not endless. They are passing and fading away as quickly as your little one's blonde curls are growing; as quickly as his vocabulary of three words becomes five, as quickly as rolling turns to crawling to turns to walking.

Today you wish for quiet, but tomorrow you will ache for that impish grin and devilish giggle as your son climbs the stairs you've told him not to climb again and again and again.

You will ache for the touch of those tiny hands that, today, seem to be grabbing and pulling and clinging to you at every moment. Those tiny hands will be a young man's hands tomorrow, and they will not look for you nearly as often.

Today, you are overwhelmed with guilt when you turn away and he gets a scraped nose, a swollen lip, a skinned knee. Tomorrow you will worry and pray as he fights battles on his own.

Today he is yours, and that is both indescribably beautiful and painfully overwhelming. But soon, he will be his own, and the brunt of these long days will be behind you.

So sit down on the couch, curl up in bed, or lie down in the backyard. Take a deep breath and accept that God's grace is not just for you as a person but for you as a mother. He created you in His image, and He made you the mother of your baby. And though you will never be perfect, raising and nurturing your baby is one of the things you were designed and called to do.

You were not called to meet a standard of perfection. You were not called to be the same as the other moms you know. You were called to love your child. You will do things wrong. You are forgiven.

Breathe in again and thank God for the incredible little life that has been irreversibly linked with yours. Realize that when you think back on these years, you won't think about the sticky countertops or the whiny noises.

You will think about this baby, this child, this person, whom you love with all your heart. And that love is enough. God's love for you is enough. You are enough.

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