Ezra’s first birthday was on October 17th and wow! Every parent ever says it but time goes so fast. As I reflect on this time, I’m overcome with bittersweet joy. This last year has been challenging, rewarding, and full of (often unseen) grace. All of the sin in my heart has been magnified, and most days I am left repenting of an impatient, irritated, selfish, and unbelieving heart. Motherhood is hard. Some days I want to run away. But I am preserved in this calling and even on the hardest of days, my source of joy remains true.
I have learned a lot about myself and being a mother throughout this first year. I have learned so much about baby sleep that I could, probably, be a certified sleep consultant. I can change a diaper in my sleep and I probably have. My day revolves around naps, playing, eating, and cleaning up the food Ezra is convinced belongs on the floor. I have experienced great darkness, felt a lack of purpose in the daily, mundane tasks of life, and I have been reminded again and again of the patience of God as Ezra up the stairs for the 10th time and as I hold his hand while he walks around house. As I spend my days pouring into caring for Ezra, the more I realize that I am not much different than him. I am dependent, weak, and small. That humble reminder is a necessary component to this season of my life.
My priorities have shifted greatly since becoming a mother. I no longer go to the gym for an hour every day. However, my arms are rock solid thanks to a year of cooking dinner with a baby on my hip. My body bears the marks of pregnancy, birth, and nursing a healthy baby. I am a perfectionist and love a clean house, but I’m working on being okay with the toys and the crumb trails. They are signs of life and blessing. My early morning coffee and devotion has been bombarded by a child who loves the hour of 5 a.m. To say I do not grow very agitated would be a lie. But at the end of the day, early wake ups mean I get the opportunity to show Ezra love and patience, even if he is a grump.
Ezra and I have spent 99% of his life together. He has only taken (maybe) three bottles in his lifetime, but I cherish the bond that we have, despite the especially demanding days. We are recently down to only morning and evening nursing, which has been strange for me. To be honest, if I didn’t offer, he probably wouldn’t ask. As we approach weaning, I think the slow pace is more for me than him.
I realize people think it’s crazy that I never leave Ezra. It’s definitely a full-time job and I have done a poor job at obeying the Lord command to have Sabbath rest. I have always felt conflicted with the idea of having my own “space” and doing what “I” want. But there is a way to take time off and rest that isn’t selfish/worldly and points us to our future eternal rest. (This “Ask Pastor John” episode was really helpful for me in understanding the need for a “break.”)
As a black and white perfectionist, I have battled anxiety for a long time. My new role as a mother exposed my need for structure and control more than ever. Structure is a good thing, but so is flexibility. Unfortunately, I lack the latter. It has exposed my lack of trust in the Lord, and has affected my confidence to make decisions. Motherhood is nothing but decision making, so you can imagine my struggle. I have failed to ask for help, thanks to my control crazed self. Also, I hate burdening people. But I’ve learned two things: 1. People want to help. 2. Even though I probably do it better, it doesn’t mean someone (*cough* my husband *cough*) is doing it wrong.
Here’s the thing. I have never been more exhausted, emptied, or emotional. But I have never relied more on the hand of God to hold fast to me. I have never been more sure that He is preserving me and filling me as I am pouring my life out for a small and needy human. I have never been more aware of my own smallness and neediness. And as I consider the unconditional love I have for Ezra – that there is nothing he could do to make me love him less or love him more – I am reminded of this faithful promise:
“For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.”