My initiation to motherhood was amazing and intense and everything my young girl mind had imagined. All the joys doubled and bubbled high in my lap as I tended our precious twin daughters. I am an optimist by nature, and I viewed mothering through an enthusiastic lens: If you love what you do, you’ll never work a day in your life! O, we had our moments, but I had an arm for each baby, enough wits to maintain a semblance of order, and soaring oxytocin levels to soothe minor infractions. Ahhh, life was vibrant and rich with happiness.
In due time, I found myself anticipating a seamless transition into a family of five. Just one newborn to cuddle and care for looked so easy. When our chubby blonde boy arrived five days late with colic, endless nights, and utter exhaustion packed in his suitcase, I tried to be a gracious hostess. But how could something so delightful be so difficult, I perplexed? Despite having a darling baby and plenty of help, my once bright and colorful world evaporated into a gray, murky fog. Somewhere in the tangled overgrowth of toys and postpartum hormones, I had lost my vision of enjoying motherhood in its entirety. Joy buried herself deep down in the storeroom. I dug her out for special occasions, but mostly I entertained Survival. Is it possible to thrive in these early years, I wondered? I so badly wanted to be present for this precious gift of time. I know we had our treasured moments…it’s just that they were smothered in cold coffee, sleepless nights, and exasperating preschoolers. This ‘fourth trimester’ was brutal and foreign territory to me; an adventure I certainly hadn’t bought tickets for!
What happened to my friend Joy, the one who smoothed altercations with poise and glittered even the dreariest of days with laughter and love? I prayed desperately for her return.
“If we hold them close, the hard things become less fearful” a sermon note caught my eye. “Press into the hard things!” cried the voices of experienced mothers. Jacob left his example of ‘moving at the speed of the children’ for me to reflect on. Could I do this? Embrace the chaos and learn and grow from it? I hugged my little ones a bit tighter. I looked into their eyes and saw a sparkle that I could mirror at their level. They do not worry about the future. How often do we miss what we have, by longing for something more? They do not multitask, but instead savor each experience in it’s glorious entirety. The whimsical rhythm of childhood finds happiness everywhere if we open our eyes to it! I began to claim the little joys from my children’s point of view as my own, and those trivial things blossomed with astonishing speed to yield delectable fruit. Instead of wishing for adult interactions throughout the day, I engaged in their silly conversations. I traded grown-up entrees for spaghetti, and discovered that Memory can be just as competitive as Rook. They didn’t seem to notice the cluttered house, and I could turn a blinded eye to the messes as well. A transformation began in my heart and I found myself truly enjoying my children more.
My baby’s colic improved, and I opened the door one fine day to find my old self knocking cheerfully. She bustled into the living room to set up housekeeping again. O, I had missed her ever so much! I started the coffee and we curled up on the sofa to reconnect. She whipped out her planner to set to right the unraveling ends. Then she lifted her pen. “You know, children aren’t an interruption to our work, they are the most important work.” My housecleaning agenda gulped and I glanced at the eager little faces beside me, “Let’s schedule a morning at the park!”
Joy had returned, though not in the way I had imagined she would. I miss the ‘old me’ some days, the girl who never ran out of energy or ambition. The goals I hope to accomplish in a day seldom materialize but I’m slowly learning to embrace that. If this season of life is not full of obvious successes, then I must combine all the little joys together, and they will add up to a very good day!
Carrie Cross is the wife of Zach and mom of three, residing in the lovely state of Nebraska. She savors hot coffee and the quiet moments when the children are napping, but more often is found embracing the busyness in her young family, and learning about life alongside them. When inspiration and time align, she scrawls a few lines to keep the memory of these precious years alive. She enjoys thrifting, sewing, and green plants, and she loves to chat! Connect with her at