Tomorrow my younger daughter turns one, and this milestone feels like it has silently jumped up out of nowhere. Somehow, someway, amidst all of the nose wiping and snack preparing and story reading and child raising, my infant turned into a baby turned into a whirlwind of a one-year-old.
I can’t help but think back to this day last year. The last day we were a family of three. Daddy, Mommy, and two-year-old Ruby. I spent the evening cleaning the house and trying to calm my bundle of nerves. Everyone told me that a planned c-section would be better than my first emergency c-section, but I didn’t believe them. This time I knew what to expect. I knew the vulnerability waiting me on that bed. The cold, the helplessness, the arms strapped down and the numb body. A doctor rummaging around my insides, tugging and pulling.
My first c-section came after 36 hours of labor. The baby that everyone was worried would be born too soon was content to stay inside. I worked so hard to get her to progress, but at the crucial moment of her birth I was powerless. Helpless. Overcome with disappointment and the feeling that I hadn’t become a mother, instead the doctor had just removed a baby. No effort from me required.
My first moment of motherhood was wrapped up in disappointment and the conviction that I had done it wrong. That I was not enough.
Mothering. You’re doing it wrong.
Have you ever felt that? I mean, if you haven’t are you even on the internet? One quick peek at my Facebook feed, and I learn about five ways that I’m failing my children. To vaccinate or not vaccinate. Sleep train or not sleep train. Home school or public school or private school or unschooled.
Birth is just the first of many steps that a mother can plan out to the second, and then watch as everything is turned on a dime and the tightly-held plans are thrown out the door.
With Ruby, I lived in fear of doing it wrong. I did everything by the book. And I knew how to do everything by the book because I read all of the books. Every single one.
I never expected myself to be perfect, but I sure did try awfully hard.
Mothering. You’re doing it wrong.
Before Selah was born, I knew I would need an extra grace. I felt it in my bones. Raising her is like raising wildfire – she is fierce and powerful and exhilarating and leaves me humbled. I have thrown out the books with her and pray daily for God to show me how to be a good mother.
I didn’t know how desperately I needed her.
Ruby gave me the gift of becoming a mother. Selah gave me the courage to be one.
Anyone can write a convincing Facebook post about the right way to get a baby to sleep through the night, but only a mother can hold her child and know whether she needs comfort or solitude. Anyone can tell you how to discipline a child, but only a mother can look into her child’s eyes and know whether she needs a hug or a time out. Anyone can tell you how to raise your child, but only you know how to mother her.
Selah has taught me that I will do it wrong. I will make mistakes. I will lack. But I can never fail her as a mother.
My daughters do not need my perfection. They will see the standard that I hold myself to and try to emulate it some day. If they see a mother striving for perfection and obsessed with the notion of failure, how will they learn to surpass me? How is that drawing them to God?
Mothering has taught me that I do not have all the answers, and I most likely never will. This isn’t a black and white, yes or no kind of thing. Motherhood is shades of gray and doing your best and trying again tomorrow. I refuse to live in the fear of not being enough for my daughters because I KNOW I am not enough. I have never been and I never will be. They were formed with a God-sized void, just like me. They will always need more than what this world has to offer. What I have to offer. My only role is to lovingly raise them as best I can while continually pointing them to the One Who does no wrong. Who is more than enough.
So when my plans go astray – when motherhood doesn’t look like I had hoped – when I am met with insecurity and fear and failure, I trust in this. He set the world in motion. He formed it all with His hands. And He chose to form my two little wildfire miracles inside of me. In my womb, in my heart, in my dreams. No one else.
The Creator of galaxies saw your children and knew that they needed you. With Him on our side, fear and insecurity have no choice but to leave.
Mothering. You’re doing it right.