Tuesday, April 20, 2010
Moments You're Not Prepared For.
Rod and I have been married for 14 years this year. We were married seven blissful years before Abigail came onto the scene. Out of those years, we pastored youth and children for all seven, plus a few years before our marriage. You'd think that working with, counseling, and training those children would prepare you for parenting. After all, we've seen other people's kids pee off of balconies, pierce each other's ears, drink a gallon of milk and immediately throw up... we've heard stories of abuse, shame, guilt... we've housed millions of teenagers in our home... that ought to count for something. Right?
Sure, it did.
I will never forget the moment Abi was laid on my chest after I pushed her into this world. Hormones and adrenaline were running high. It was a defining moment, for sure. The next two days were filled with visitors, balloons, flowers, congratulations, and camera flashes.
Then we went home.
Nothing prepared me for the moment when Rod went back to work, Mom had gone home, and I was left all alone with a newborn.
I remember sitting on the couch, nursing my baby. I remember that Dr. Phil was on TV, and all of a sudden, I burst into tears. It was such a plethora of emotion. I was happy. I was sad. I was scared. I was thrilled. I was lonely. I was complete.
But mostly, I was scared.
I remember looking at Abi's sweet face and thinking, "What have I done to myself? I am responsible for a living thing for the next twenty years!" This wasn't a puppy I could drop off at the pound. Not a plant I could stop watering and toss. This was a human being, given to me to shape and fashion.
Nothing could have prepared me for that moment.
I look at expectant moms, bursting with baby for the first time, and I think of those beginning days... how nothing ANYONE said could really prepare me for the magnitude of the task I signed up for when I held that pregnancy test in my hand. And though I know there will be moments like these for the rest of my parenting days, I have to laugh when I think of the moments I haven't been prepared for so far. Please feel free to add yours on here, or on facebook. I'd love to hear your thoughts.
I wasn't prepared for...
...the moment when Abi looked at me at 9 months old and rolled her eyes at me the first time. On purpose.
...the fever of 104 that lasted for a month and brought words like "spinal tap," "I.V." and "meningitis."
...the moment when I didn't believe her arm was hurt that badly from a minor fall at the park, and I made her get in the van... and her arm fell limply to her side when she tried to climb into her seat.
...the first, "I DO IT BY MYSELF."
...how badly my heart ached when I left her here and flew to Africa for two weeks.
...the instantaneous weeping tears that fell down my face when I saw her at the end of that trip.
...when she asked me to lead her to Jesus while we were riding down the road.
...seeing her crawl into the bed with a dear friend who was literally dying, and hearing her whisper, "You won't hurt much longer. You'll see Jesus soon."
...seeing her at the casket of another friend, touching him and wondering why his arm was so stiff. (Yes, she was lifting his arm out of the casket... but don't worry... he would have laughed.)
...the night before the first day of kindergarten, when, with a quivering chin,she asked me to please put in her backpack a shirt that smelled like me because she "couldn't make it through the day without smelling her Mama."
...watching her sit at her desk at school the first day, as I'm trying not to die from the tears I'm choking on... and she winked at me.
...yesterday, when she said "What the hell" at school. UGH.
...the wave that hits me every once in a while of "I don't know what I'm doing."
...the wave of "I would throw myself in front of a train for you" that hits me every few days, often as I watch her sleep.
See, I know what's coming. I've seen enough to know that she'll come home someday when her first broken heart. One day, she'll hear someone tell her she's stupid. I'm not prepared for the first time I watch her drive off alone in my van. I'm not ready for her graduation, her move to college, her falling in love the first time.
I can't go there yet.
But here's the thing. The same grace that God has given me so far is the same grace that will be there when my heart is on the other side of the world fulfilling her mission.
So, new moms, you can prepare yourself... you can do the nursery, sterilize the bottles, and put in the car seat. But trust me on this. Prepare yourself to be unprepared.
Do the best you can. That's all you can offer on your very best day. And it won't be enough.
But somehow, it will be. ;-)